Earlier in the week, Flyers coach Alain Vigneault didn’t sugarcoat words when talking about the line of James van Riemsdyk, Claude Giroux, and Jake Voracek.
Simply put, he wasn’t happy with the unit.
“They have to figure it out,” Vigneault said. “The other lines seem to have some chemistry.”
Vigneault said Giroux’s line had “three experienced guys that have been around and should know the right way to play and have to play it.”
On Thursday, they responded.
Van Riemsdyk, who has been among the NHL’s leaders in shots per game, and Giroux each scored their first goals of the season and the line was a combined plus-4 in the Flyers’ 4-1 win in Chicago.
Vigneault said he never doubted that the unit would get going.
Still, there was a feeling of relief from both van Riemsdyk, who had his first two points of the the season, and Giroux after going seven games without a goal.
“Certainly, it’s challenging, especially since I feel like I was getting a lot of good chances, a lot of good looks,” van Riemsdyk said. “Obviously, I’m here to create offense and score goals, so it’s definitely tough on you mentally when that doesn’t happen. I’m trying to just stick with it.
“You don’t want to go through that, but you just have to respond the right way and have a good approach and a good process," he added.
Unlike van Riemsdyk, Giroux had points (four) in the first seven games.
“You want to try to help the team win, and sometimes when it’s not going in, you have to do the little things right” to compensate for it, Giroux said.
The Flyers (4-3-1) will host Columbus (5-3-2) on Saturday night, attempting to stretch their winning streak to three games.
“The last four games, I think we’ve been playing the right way,” said Giroux, whose team is 2-2 in that span. “We didn’t always get the (right) result … but we’re playing the way we want to.”
Surging Blue Jackets in town
The Flyers will face a Blue Jackets team Saturday that has a six-game point streak (4-0-2). In the series against the Flyers, Columbus has won five straight games and the last three at the Wells Fargo Center.
Vigneault called the Jackets a “heavy forechecking team" whose defense jumps into the attack.
Cam Atkinson usually is unstoppable against the Flyers. The right winger has a total of seven goals over his last five contests against the Flyers, including three multi-goal games.
Brian Elliott (2-1, 2.09 GAA, .933 save percentage) will make his third straight start for the Flyers and is expected to face Joonas Korpisalo (5-2-1, 2.72, .901.) ). In his last six starts, Korpisalo is 4-1-1 with a 2.47 GAA and .915 save percentage. He has replaced Sergei Bobrovsky, who signed with Florida as a free agent.
Vigneault said he talks daily with goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh about Elliott and he will not overuse him because of his past injuries.
“That’s definitely something we talked about after the last two games, but since we didn’t
skate yesterday, we thought it was the right thing to do," Vigneault said about playing Elliott again. "We are aware of the situation, but Brian is telling us he’s never felt this good.”
Carter Hart will play Sunday against the host islanders.
Second-year left winger Oskar Lindblom has five goals in eight games to pace the Flyers, who are using him in all situations — even strength, power play and penalty kill.
“I didn’t know much about Oskar before coming here,” Vigneault said after Saturday’s morning skate, “but what I found is a real smart two-way player, a hard-working young man who has good hockey sense to play that 200-foot game and he has a real good skill level. ... He’s become a real important player on our team.”
Left winger Michael Raffl, who blocked a shot late in Thursday’s win and hobbled off the ice with a lower-leg injury, will play Saturday, Vigneault said, adding he was not limited in what he can do on the ice.
"What I loved about that play, it’s 4-1 and you pay the price and block the shot, " Vigneault said. “Great message for our team — you have to play the right way from the beginning to the end, and that’s what he did.”
Travis Konecny (team-high 11 points) has points in seven of the eight games; the RW has 10 points in 11 career games vs. Columbus. ... Former Blue Jacket Jake Voracek needs three goals to reach 200 in his career. … Columbus’ last eight games have been decided by a goal. The Jackets are 5-1-2 in those contests. … The Jackets’ Pierre-Luc Dubois has six points, including four goals, in his last eight games. He has goals in each of the last three road games. … Three Flyers — Joel Farabee, Connor Bunnaman and Carsen Twarynski — have made their NHL debuts this season.