Del Zotto returns to Flyers' lineup; Read goes to top line
DENVER: After two straight losses, the Flyers are making changes to their lineup for Wednesday night's game in Colorado.
Saying he wanted more speed on defense and the top line, coach Craig Berube is putting defenseman Michael Del Zotto back in the lineup after scratching him for nine straight games, and he is moving left winger Matt Read next to center Claude Giroux (42 points) and right winger Jake Voracek (46).
Michael Raffl, who had been playing well on the highly successful top unit, will slide down to the third line with Sean Couturier and R.J. Umberger.
"It's just to add a little bit more speed there. I think with Reader, he played there before and he's had success there with them," Berube said after the morning skate at the Pepsi Center. "It was only for a short period of time, but I've made that switch before … popped him up there and it kind of added a different element."
Read has scored just three goals _ seven fewer than Raffl. Read has one goal in his last 20 games.
"Jake and G have been getting checked hard the last couple of games," Berube said. "I thought I'd add a little bit more speed on the line, a little bit more puck ability and things like that."
Read called it a "new challenge" and a "great opportunity" to play alongside the league's Nos. 1 and 3 scorers.
Del Zotto will be paired with Andrew MacDonald, and Luke Schenn will be scratched. Schenn was plus-5 in the nine games he has played since an earlier benching.
Berube said Schenn has played well, but that he wanted Del Zotto in the lineup because of Colorado's speed. "Tough decision, obviously, to take Luke out," he said.
Del Zotto, who has eight points and a minus-6 rating in 29 games, called it a "relief" to return to the lineup. "It's always tough watching, especially nine in a row," he said. "I'm really excited to get back in and can't wait for tonight."
The 24-year-old Del Zotto said the most difficult part of his benching was staying upbeat "and not losing your swagger and confidence when you do get back in there."
Del Zotto was occasionally scratched with the Rangers and Nashville last season, but he got off to a strong start with the Flyers before going into a bit of a tailspin.
"I was feeling pretty good about my game, and feeling like I was getting my confidence back," he said of his early-season play. "That was the toughest part" about the benching.
Berube said Del Zotto was playing too much "one on one" and that led to his benching.
Briere, Talbot vs. ex-mates. Colorado's Danny Briere (six goals, eight points) and Max Talbot (two goals, eight points) will face their ex-teammates tonight.
Talbot had a goal in the Avs' 4-3 loss to the Flyers earlier this season; Briere did not play in the game.
"I still have a lot of friends on the other side and that's probably the toughest part when you have to face friends and battle against guys that you really went to battle with in the past," Briere said. "But once you're on the ice you've got to do your job."
Breakaways. Berube on the Flyers spending New Year's Eve in Denver, where marijuana is legal: "They do a good job of picking their spots and doing the right things."…."Braydon Coburn played in his 600th career game, and Nick Grossmann in his 500th.....Steve Mason 6-11-5, 2,52 GAA, .919 save percentage) will face the Avs' Semyon Varlamov (5-7-5, 3.01, .912)….The Flyers have lost six straight in Denver since a 2-1 overtime win here on Dec. 27, 2002….Tonight, Braydon Coburn will play in his 600th career game and Nick Grossmann in his 500th ….Claude Giroux needs three goals to pass Mike Richards for 23d on the franchise's all-time list…Colorado defenseman Nate Guenin played 12 games with the Flyers from 2006-09.
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