Briere Demoted, Read Bumped to Second-Line Combo; I See A Problem >

by Michael DeNicola

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 --

So, Danny Briere's been bumped down to the third line while Matt Read's been promoted to the second line combo. Read will take the left-wing, centered by Brayden Schenn and mirrored by Wayne Simmonds at right. Danny Briere joins Simon Gagne and Sean Couturier on the third wave. 

Everyone, including myself, seems to be very excited about the potential chemistry that the second line could produce. You have net presence in Wayne Simmonds, who's otherwise been one of our Clubs deadliest offensive weapons. Brayden Schenn continues to get stronger from the middle position, and his on-ice awareness progresses as well. A healthy Matt Read is the perfect addition to a line in need of a sniper. Before sidelined with injury, Read was on pace to be the Flyers first skater to break the 10-goal mark. 

Here's to that second line dominating tonight's tempo in New Jersey! 

But there's cause for concern, and I'm highlighting Briere's presence on the third combination. 

When Simon Gagne was acquired, it made sense pairing him next to Sean Couturier. The hope was that Gagne would spark Couturier's offensive output, all the while sustaining a two-way style of play from that third line. Simon is a two-way player, and even at his age and proneness to injury, he can still provide defensive support in our zone while aiding to Sean's scoring curve in the opposite end. 

The demotion of Danny Briere to this line -- since nicknamed "The French Connection", *ugh* -- worries me slightly. I'm skeptical because you're adding one of our team's largest defensive liabilities to arguably the most important defensive forward combination. 

Couturier starts 62 per cent of his shifts in the defensive zone. His on-ice time are heavy-lifting minutes, to say the least. Say whatever the hell you want about his disappointing productivity in the offensive zone, Sean Couturier remains our most lethal neutralizing weapon. When facing an opponent like the Devils and their forechecking, you know the puck could spend a great deal of time in our zone. If that becomes the case, then we'll be seeing Couturier out there a lot. If Couturier's out there, Briere's out there. And even if Briere's held on the bench until the Flyers go on the scoring chance, then we're gambling with another possibility of getting caught on a sloppy shift change. Knowing our defense's inability to stretch the chance through mid-ice, that possibility ventures into probability. 

Perhaps I'm over-thinking this too much, and my skepticism is just loaded with years of negative bias towards #48. Nevertheless, it's still something to think about. Sure, that second line combo appears to be deadly on paper, but could Briere's demotion prove to negate the very purpose of Couturier's line?

Or, maybe I just have my head up my ass? Like I said, the addition of Read to the second combo strengthens the line's scoring chances. Briere being on the third line only reinforces our scoring depth, even with his tendency to be absent through patches of the regular season. Perhaps Briere's presence on the third line will add more offensive flare to a defensive medley?

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Briere Couturier.jpg 

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