When the Flyers announced this morning that winger Taylor Leier had been returned to the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Nick Cousins was recalled, it was obvious they were going to tinker with some things in Friday's game - a 3:30 p.m. start - against the Nashville Predators.
An afternoon media session with coach Dave Hakstol two hours before the game revealed that change and more. Cousins will replace Leier on the same line Leier played with Wednesday night. But Cousins will center and Scott Laughton will move over to the left wing. Colin McDonald remains on the other wing and Vincent Lecavalier stays a healthy scratch in the press box.
Cousins leads the Phantoms with 18 points (5 goals) in 15 games.
"I think he's competitive as hell," Hakstol said of Cousins.
Laughton has played center for nearly the entirety of his professional career.
"Probably the last time he played left wing was back in the World Juniors (2014)," Hakstol said. "Things haven't come easy for him over the last couple of weeks. Let's change it up a little bit, give him a little different look."
An additional change for the Flyers' Friday lineup has defenseman Evgeny Medvedev back on the ice in game action. Medvedev, 33, signed this summer to a one-year, $3 million deal, has been a healthy scratch for the last six games entering Friday.
Medvedev takes the spot of Brandon Manning and will be paired with rooke Shayne Gostisbehere, who has four points in six games since being called up from Lehigh Valley.
Hakstol has been critical of Medvedev's play without the puck and in the defensive zone. But the Flyers need a kick offensively, and Medvedev - who is playing in his first NHL season - could very well help provide that playing with the Flyers' best offensive defenseman in Gostisbehere.
"Meddy's gotta do a good job defensively," Hakstol said. "That's one of the real focuses. He's gotta be a little bit harder to play against. He's gotta be a little bit cleaner in his own zone and take care of that end of things. Whether he's new to the NHL this year or not, he's the veteran on that pairing. He has to carry himself that way."
Michal Neuvirth will start in goal for the Flyers, which means Steve Mason is likely to start Saturday afternoon, when the Flyers travel to New York for an afternoon matchup with the Rangers.
Nashville (12-6-3) followed up a three-game goalless drought - all losses, of course - with a 3-2 win over Buffalo Wednesday night.
"They do what they do," Hakstol said. "There's a couple guys on their D corps that are up ice a lot and real good at it. They get up ice, produce a lot from back there. Even in the games they weren't scoring, I thought they were transitioning with a ton of speed. That's the way they play."
The Flyers (7-10-5) are desperate to get into some sort of rhythm. Friday is the second game in a stretch of three games in four days, finishing up Saturday in New York. Wednesday's loss in New York against the Islanders saw the Flyers miss out on winning their first set of back-to-back games since Oct. 24.