Ever since the season started, new Flyers coach Alain Vigneault has been searching for continuity among his four lines.
He may have found it in Monday’s 6-2 victory over visiting Vegas, although, strangely enough, the only line that wasn’t productive was the top unit, composed of center Claude Giroux and wingers James van Riemsdyk and Jake Voracek, three proven veterans.
The other three lines were effective. Sean Couturier centered Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konecny; Kevin Hayes centered Scott Laughton and Joel Farabee; and Misha Vorobyev centered Michael Raffl and Chris Stewart.
The one line that has been fairly constant has been the Flyers’ best unit -- Lindblom, Couturier and Konecny -- who have been together for five of the seven games. Konecny and Lindblom scored Monday, giving them each a team-high four goals.
That line “has been effective five-on-five, and it has been effective on the power play,” said Vigneault, whose 3-3-1 team will play in Chicago on Thursday. “I really liked Kevin Hayes’ line, also," on Monday. "I thought they played a 200-foot game. They had some good looks offensively, and Misha’s line played a solid game for us.
“Moving forward, for the next game, anyway, I intend to keep the four lines together.”
He wasn’t happy with the Giroux line. For the first time in the young season, Giroux played at center for an entire game.
“They have to figure it out,” Vigneault said. “The other lines seem to have some chemistry.”
Vigneault said Giroux’s line has “three experienced guys that have been around and should know the right way to play and have to play it.”
In the home win, the line combined for nine shots but no points. Voracek had an assist while he was briefly on Hayes’ unit.
As for getting some continuity in all his lines, Vigneault hopes it happens sooner rather than later.
“We’re into Week 3 now, and sometimes it takes two weeks, a month; sometimes it takes three months to sort things out between what you have and what you have in the minors,” he said. “We’ve had some roster changes, brought up some kids, and sometimes it takes a while. You just have to be patient and know what you’re looking for, and when you see it, keep it together. At the end of the day here, we’re trying to get this team to win.”
In a twist, Vigneault had the four lines (and two defensemen) work in separate sessions with new skills coach Angelo Ricci at Tuesday’s practice in Voorhees.
Vigneault did that during his coaching days in Vancouver and in New York with the Rangers.
“Obviously, the schedule has to permit it, but I usually call this ‘Hockey School Days,’ ” Vigneault said. “Usually, the whole half-hour is just skill-oriented, but because we’re a new coaching staff, we haven’t had a lot of time to work on faceoff plays.”
Consequently, each line worked on faceoffs for 10 minutes, then spent 20 minutes with Ricci in groups of five.
“We have four games in six nights, so I thought today was the right time to have a day like this, and [Wednesday] we’ll have a normal practice and then fly to Chicago," Vigneault said.
Ricci also worked with players for 45 minutes before practice.
“All these young guys today, they all have skills coaches, and they all work with them in the summer,” Vigneault said. "What we’re trying to do is maintain some of the summer work they do.”