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Flyers’ New Third Line Playing Playoff Hockey Down the Stretch (+)

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Sam Ersson, Garnet Hathaway, Philadelphia Flyers
Garnet Hathaway has been the catalyst to the Philadelphia Flyers' recent successes. (Photo: AP)

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Philadelphia Flyers have made a name for themselves this season as one of the NHL’s best teams in scoring and creating off the rush.

Conversely, creating off the cycle and the forecheck is, markedly, a weakness. That is, until the alchemy was altered over the last few weeks.

In the Flyers’ Feb. 12 game against the Arizona Coyotes, head coach John Tortorella rolled the dice on a different third line combination. Noah Cates, Ryan Poehling, and Garnet Hathaway formed a new trio for Philadelphia that night, playing 3:31 together at 5-on-5 and out-attempting Arizona 9-3 in the shot column.

Three days later, on Feb. 15, they were equally as good at 5-on-5 against the vaunted Toronto Maple Leafs, out-attempting their opponents 11-5. Hathaway scored a goal as the unit created three high-danger scoring chances to the Maple Leafs’ one while owning a 9-2 advantage in scoring chances overall.

No other Flyers line had a positive shot differential against their opponents that night.

The story stayed the same in last weekend’s Stadium Series matchup with the New Jersey Devils, as Cates, Poehling, and Hathaway out-attempted the hosts 9-3; scoring chances were about even that contest.

After Hathaway’s second goal with this line, which he scored on Wednesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, you had to wonder why the Flyers haven’t used this arrow they’ve had in their quiver this whole time.

What’s in the past is in the past, but Cates and Hathaway have theories on why their new line is dominating, night in and night out.

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