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Flyers have thrived since Schenn, Raffl switched lines

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas - The Flyers are 10-0 since Brayden Schenn was shifted from top-line left winger to second-line center, and Michael Raffl replaced him on the No. 1 unit.

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas - The Flyers are 10-0 since Brayden Schenn was shifted from top-line left winger to second-line center, and Michael Raffl replaced him on the No. 1 unit.

Is their gaudy record since the moves a coincidence? Or did the changes ignite the Flyers' surge?

The numbers say the latter. The moves have given the Flyers two high-scoring lines and made it difficult for opponents to send their best checking unit out against the No. 1 line, centered by Claude Giroux.

"My back," deadpanned Raffl, who is playing on a line with Giroux and Jake Voracek, two of the league's top scorers, "is really sore from carrying G and Jake. It wears me down."

As for the recently formed lines, "I guess it's given us more balance," Schenn said after practice Friday at the Dr Pepper StarCenter, where the Flyers (19-10-3) were preparing to face Dallas (12-14-6) on Saturday afternoon. "We have good chemistry now and we have to ride it."

Schenn actually was the fourth-line center (with Chris VandeVelde and Roman Lyubimov) for the first two games of the 10-game winning streak. Since then, he has centered the second line, between wingers Travis Konecny and Wayne Simmonds.

"He's done a really good job," said Simmonds, who was teammates with Schenn in Los Angles before they came to the Flyers in the 2011 Mike Richards trade. "I just try to get him the puck and try to get open for him. With him and T.K., I think we've been doing a pretty good job together."

Raffl, formerly a third-line left winger, has been with Giroux and Jake Voracek for the last 10 games. In that span, the three players have combined for 12 goals, 32 points, and a plus-18 rating.

Raffl has three goals during the streak, including two game-winners.

"He's a big strong guy, a physical guy who hangs onto pucks," said Voracek, who entered Friday tied for third in the NHL with 33 points. "He battles his heart out on every single shift.

"If you give him the confidence, he can do other things," added Voracek, mentioning the goals Raffl scored on power moves to beat Nashville and Edmonton. "He's very strong, and if he brings it every night - it's hard to do it for 82 games - and if you find that energy for most nights, he's a big, big plus for us."

In the eight games in which Schenn has centered the second line, the players on his unit have combined for 12 goals, 22 points, and a plus-five rating.

Some of the six players' production has come on the power play, but clearly the Flyers have more balance among the top two lines since Schenn was moved back to his natural position, center.

The Flyers used Schenn's hat trick - all the goals were scored on the power play - to rally past the Stars, 4-2, last Saturday.

"They have a lot of weapons," said Schenn, referring to Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Patrick Eaves. "Our guys did a good checking job on them last time, and obviously we're going to need more of that."

Unlike many (superstitious) teams that go on long winning streaks, the Flyers aren't reluctant to talk about it.

"We talk about it a lot, actually," Giroux said. "It's a motivator . . . to keep it going."

"I've never been a part of anything like this," Voracek said. "It's been absolutely amazing and we've got to enjoy it while it lasts. We all know it's not going to last forever, but it's important we keep riding it as long as possible. And when the day comes that we lose, we've got to get another winning streak. That's how you make it to the playoffs. That's how you become a successful team."

Breakaways. During the 10-game streak, Schenn has three game-winning goals and Raffl has two, while Giroux, Voracek, Simmonds, Ivan Provorov, and Shayne Gostisbehere have one each. . . . Dallas forward Cody Eakin was suspended four games for charging Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist on Thursday night. . . . Sean Couturier and Matt Read, making comebacks from injuries, skated with the team again, but Read (oblique) left the ice early and appeared in some discomfort.