Flyers facing off with issue of too many centers?

This article can be found published on MVP Philly.
The Philadelphia Flyers are stacked down the middle with players like Mike Richards, Claude Giroux and Darroll Powe. (AP)

The Philadelphia Flyers are stacked down the middle with players like Mike Richards, Claude Giroux and Darroll Powe. (AP)

A problem that many teams would like to face is now plaguing the Philadelphia Flyers. What do you do with too many centers?

Head coach Peter Laviolette is trying to find the answer. The Flyers are stacked down the middle with six different players who can easily fill the role of center: Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Danny Briere, Claude Giroux, Darroll Powe and Blair Betts.

Laviolette started the season with Richards, Briere, Giroux and Betts down middle, placing Carter on the wing with Richards and Powe on the wing with Betts. But the captain, Richards, was lacking in production, having only three assists in six games. The team, as a whole, fell into a scoring slump the previous three games.

To shake things up, Laviolette switched the lines for Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He moved Carter off the wing and centered him between James van Riemsdyk and Nikolay Zherdev. Giroux and Powe were moved to the wings on Richards’ line.

Richards’ doubled his points total against the Leafs on his new line. He scored his first goal of the season and added two more assists as the Flyers buried Toronto, 5-2.

But problems still arise from each of these new and previous line combinations. Richards and Carter can be huge factors in games, but it seems they thrive better when separated. Carter can produce better at a center position. In only seven games played as a winger in the playoffs last season, Carter scored only 5 goals and 2 assists.

However, if Carter is put at center, then more than likely Giroux will be the one who is moved. Giroux, who is listed as a winger, shows his creativity and vision with the puck as a center.

What about Briere? The Scott Hartnell-Briere-Ville Leino line has become untouchable. The line has continued to produce as it had in the playoffs. Briere and Leino both have 5 points in seven games and Hartnell has contributed 3 points.

So what move is best for the teams and for the players?

Here’s a breakdown of point productions for the lines:

Through the first six games:
Carcillo/Nodl-Richards-Carter = 6 points (2G, 4A)
Hartnell-Briere-Leino = 10 points (5G, 5A)
Van Riemsdyk-Giroux-Zherdev = 8 points (4G, 4A)
Shelley-Betts-Powe = 5 points (2G, 3A)

Saturday’s game against Toronto:
Powe-Richards-Giroux = 4 points (1G, 3A)
Hartnell-Briere-Leino = 3 points (3G, 0A)
Van Riemsdyk-Carter-Zherdev = 0 points (0G, 0A)
Shelley-Betts-Carcillo = 1 point (1G, 0A)

Who suffers? Should Carter be reunited with Richards and hope that the two learn how to work together and start scoring? This would allow Giroux, who is poised to have a breakout season, the opportunity to continue to dazzle the opposition and goaltenders. Or do you keep Carter and Richards separate and limit Giroux’s offensive abilities by placing him on wing?

These are questions Laviolette is facing and Flyers fans can only hope his decisions better the team in the end.


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Categories: Ice Hockey, NHL, Sports

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