Flyers Skate Update: Changes in Store for Game 4

VOORHEES, N.J. - Head coach Dave Hakstol wouldn't confirm it when asked.

"A lot of ifs there. I'm not going to talk about those too much."

Claude Giroux was mum as well.

"I don't know yet. We don't know yet."

But if Wednesday morning's skate in Voorhees was any indication, the Flyers, hanging on for dear life down 3-0 to the Washington Capitals in this first-round series, have some line changes in store for Game 4 in an attempt to spark a dismal offense that has generated just two goals the 180 minutes played so far in this series.

Brayden Schenn skated with Giroux and Wayne Simmonds on the top line.

Michael Raffl moved to the center spot on the second line with Sam Gagner and Jake Voracek on his wings.

"Something had to be done," said Voracek, who has one of the Flyers' two tallies in the series. "I mean, we scored two goals in three games."

The Flyers have had their chances in the series. Through three games, they've outshot the Capitals by a 93-81 margin. But all that counts is the bottom line and the bottom line says the Caps have outscored the Flyers 12-2 in the series.

Special teams issues have contributed to that goal-scoring discrepancy, and Caps goalie Braden Holtby has been spectacular, but with the Flyers' backs against the wall in Game 4, the line changes were inevitable.

"We've played with everyone all year long," said Simmonds, who is pointless in the series after scoring a team-high 32 goals in the regular season. "We're all used to playing with each other, so it's just a line change.

"It's up to us. It doesn't matter if the coaches change our lines. We've got to go out there and play."

While Hakstol wouldn't flat-out confirm the changes, read between the lines and you can tell changes are coming when the puck hits the Wells Fargo Center ice on Wednesday night.

"You're going to potentially see different line combinations. I know everyone wants to look at what we had in morning skate. … Not that either team has scored a lot at even strength in this series, but we need to generate more."

With Sean Couturier out, Schenn played center, his natural position, on the second line with Gagner and Raffl.

But Schenn's potential move to the top line isn't surprising. He scored a career-high 26 goals this season and played very well on the wing with Giroux and Simmonds when with them during the last few months of the season after Voracek missed time with an injury.

"Brayden's had success at both spots when called upon," Hakstol said. "He's been good up the middle, as well as when he's been on a line with Giroux. They've had some good chemistry."

Voracek sounded excited to potentially play with Raffl, who has the Flyers' other goal in the series. The two played together the majority of last season when both had career years - Voracek had 22 goals and 81 points and Raffl had 21 goals.

"He's strong on the puck and he's fast," Voracek said of Raffl. "He's been playing well during these three games. He can make a lot of plays."

But Voracek also summed up the feeling of the Flyers' forwards best.

"We've got to find a way to win a game. That's all. It doesn't matter who plays with who."

McDonald in for Bellemare
Even if the Flyers had scored more than two goals so far in the series, another lineup change was coming no matter what.

Veteran forward Colin McDonald, who was called up from Lehigh Valley earlier this week, will play tonight on the fourth line in place of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who is serving a one-game suspension for an illegal hit on Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov in the third period of Game 3.

"I just feel the playoff-type game suits my style really well where I can just jump right in," said McDonald, who served as captain of the Phantoms this season. "I can just play the way I always play and I know I can be effective in a series like this."

The six-year pro has playoff experience against the Caps. With the Islanders last season, he played in two postseason contests vs. Washington, so he knows what he'll be up against tonight.

In five regular-season games with the Flyers, McDonald recorded a goal and seven penalty minutes. In 51 games with the Phantoms, he posted 14 goals and 18 assists.

Goalie change
Michal Neuvrith confirmed on Wednesday morning that he will start Game 4 in place of Steve Mason (see story).

Projected lineup
Based on what was seen at morning skate, here is the Flyers' potential lineup for Game 4

Forwards
Brayden Schenn-Claude Giroux-Wayne Simmonds

Sam Gagner-Michael Raffl-Jake Voracek

Matt Read-Nick Cousins-Scott Laughton

Colin McDonald-Ryan White-Chris VandeVelde

Defensemen
Mark Streit-Nick Schultz

Shayne Gostisbehere-Andrew MacDonald

Radko Gudas-Brandon Manning

Goalies
Michael Neuvirth

Steve Mason

Scratches
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (suspension)

Sean Couturier (injury)

Evgeny Medvedev (healthy), Jordan Weal (healthy), R.J. Umberger (healthy)

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