Flyers Hope Line Changes Jump Starts Gagne, Hartnell

Bleacher ReportAnalyst IOctober 24, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 22:  Scott Hartnell #19 of the Philadelphia Flyers warms up before playing the Boston Bruins on October 22, 2009 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Flyers will feature a new set of lines in Saturday's rematch against the Florida Panthers with the hopes of jump starting two struggling forwards.

Simon Gagne is off to his worst start of his career, and John Stevens has Gagne on a line with Claude Giroux and Ian Laperriere. Gagne, who scored 34 goals last year, has yet to tickle the twine this season after seven games, which is the most games he's gone without scoring a goal in his career.

In seven of his nine seasons playing for the Orange 'n Black, Gagne has scored at least 20 goals, and his career-high is 47 tallies when he was playing with Peter Forsberg in the 2005-06 season.

Gagne suffered a groin injury at Team Canada's Orientation Camp, and he admitted a week or two ago that it's still a little tight; however, it's not bad enough for him to miss any time, but one has to wonder if it's hampering his goal scoring ability.

Through seven games, Gagne has four assists and a plus-3 rating, but the Flyers desperately need him to start doing what he does best, find the back of the net. In his last game, Gagne registered five shots on goal, which is a good sign of things to come.

If you are looking for a perfect compliment for Gagne, it's definitely Giroux. Ask any goal scorer whether they like playing with other guys who like to shoot the puck as well or a guy who looks to create plays, and I'm almost certain the ladder would be the answer.

Giroux has excellent playmaking skills along with an ability that not a lot of players are blessed with as he knows where the plays is going to be, not where the play is. This move may get Gagne going because Giroux will look to get him some scoring chances.

Scott Hartnell finds himself playing with Mike Richards and Arron Asham as he's struggling in the early going with just a goal and two assists. Against Boston, Hartnell found himself demoted to the fourth line because he wasn't having a good game and was a minus-2.

Hartnell has been in a funk all season long, and actually found himself demoted to the fourth line against Boston because Daniel Carcillo was outplaying him. He was a minus-2 with two hits against the B's.

The trio of Hartnell-Richards-Asham will provide energy at the very least, but it will get Harts going as soon as tonight against the Panthers.

Van Riemsdyk will now be on a line with Jeff Carter and Danny Briere.

For more Flyers' coverage, please go to my blog: Operation Orange Crush