At just 18 years old, Patrik Laine leads the NHL with 12 goals.
Mark Scheifele, only 23, is tied atop the league with 21 points.
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When it comes to the Jets, though, Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol sees much more than just a scary scoring tandem.
“Their top point-producing line tends to get a lot of — and deserves — the spotlight,” he said, “but [they are a] pretty damn good four-line team.”
The Flyers will be up against those lines on Thursday night when they host Winnipeg at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com) (see game notes).
Laine, the No. 2 pick in the June draft, and Scheifele, the seventh overall pick in 2011, have combined for 22 goals and 16 assists. The two alongside 21-year-old Marko Dano, another former first-round pick, make for one heck of a matchup against the Flyers’ second line of Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek.
“Every team has a great line,” Voracek said after morning skate. “With Coots on our line, we usually end up playing against those lines. If you play with the puck, they’re not going to score. That’s the way I look at it.”
“We need to make sure we make the night miserable for them.”
Voracek is impressed with Winnipeg’s red-hot line and Laine, labeling the 6-foot-5, 206-pounder’s dangerous shot as top three in the league. The Jets enter 4-1 in their past five games, outscoring the opposition 20-9 over that stretch. Making the task tougher for the defensive-weary Flyers is Hakstol’s surprise benching of blueliner Shayne Gostisbehere.
“It’s also part of our group in terms of accountability in our play overall,” Hakstol said (see story). “You can’t make too much out of it. It’s not a small thing to have Shayne out of our lineup, yet I think it’s a good thing for him, in his growth, in his development and in a few things that we’re asking him to concentrate on.”
The Flyers’ morning skate was optional. Forward Matt Read and defensemen Radko Gudas and Michael Del Zotto were not present.
Voracek and defenseman Mark Streit, who missed practice Wednesday for maintenance reasons, skated on Thursday.
With an optional skate, the Flyers did not practice line rushes or defensive pairings, so here is our best educated guess at tonight’s lineup:
F: Brayden Schenn-Claude Giroux-Wayne Simmonds
Travis Konecny-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Michael Raffl-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Dale Weise
Chris VandeVelde-Nick Cousins-Matt Read
D: Andrew MacDonald-Michael Del Zotto
Ivan Provorov-Mark Streit
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas
G: Steve Mason
Scratches: Defensemen Shayne Gostisbehere (healthy) and Nick Schultz (healthy), and forward Roman Lyubimov (healthy).