Flyers getting early season boost from thriving new line

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers have plenty of offensive weapons to choose from. From Claude Giroux to Travis Konecny to James van Riemsdyk, Alain Vigneault has a lot of depth on his offensive lines. However, the biggest key to the start of the new 2021 NHL regular season has been the chemistry and production from Vigneault’s second line, Cam Atkinson, Derick Brassard, and Joel Farabee.

In a 6-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night, the Flyers received three goals and three assists from the Atkinson-Brassard-Atkinson line, continuing what has been a positive start for the trio together. Atkinson has been a breath of fresh air to the Flyers offensive unit, chipping in three goals and one assist following his arrival this offseason from Columbus.

He chipped in two goals in Wednesday’s win, while Farabee added one goal and one assist, and Brassard registered two assists as well. It was the Flyers most successful line at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, continuing the growing confidence among the bunch going forward.

“Well, I talked to Brass, and him and Cam have some chemistry going way way back, they knew one another from Columbus and Joel can just play with anyone,” Vigneault said about the line. “So am I really surprised? Not really. I think all those three guys have one thing in common, they’ve got great hockey saves and they all love to compete. So there’s no doubt that tonight that they made some big plays at the right time. It should’ve been 3-2 going into the third, but its 3-3 I love the way we responded, came right back out. Playing on our toes, playing hard, scored, made it 4-3 then 5-3 and we were able to bring the game home.”

Atkinson and Brassard are both veterans in the league, coming to Philadelphia as the latest chapter in their respective careers. The 32-year-old Atkinson has played his entire career to date with the Blue Jackets before being acquired in a trade this summer, which saw fan favorite Jakub Voracek head to Ohio in return. It was a veteran swap that has paid off for the Flyers in the early going this season.

Brassard, 34, is with his ninth team of his career, looking to stay active in the sport after seeing his individual numbers drop over the last few seasons. He played with Atkinson for two seasons in Columbus before eventually embarking to later stops in New York, Colorado, and Pittsburgh among others. Brassard might not light up the stat-sheet every game this season, but he’s another veteran presence which the Flyers desperately needed after last season’s struggles.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

“I am obviously very comfortable playing with Brass,” Atkinson said. “When I was a rookie for a couple years he was my centerman and we are obviously best buddies so we are always talking always staying positive. You add a guy like Beezer who is obviously very skilled and can make plays and shoot the puck. I think it took the first game to get going. We had one preseason game together and we did some good things. I had a feeling we were going to click. Staying positive and working at the little things in practice and talking and I think we are doing a really good job at that.”

Farabee has picked up where he left up last season, leading the team with three goals and three assists, and playing scrappy hockey on both ends of the ice. The New York native led the team with 20 goals in 2020-21, 12 more than his rookie season, showing he is ready to accept the latest step in his development. Now with two veteran players next to him on the Flyers second line, the pressure won’t be just on No. 86 to deliver on the offensive end.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

“Yeah I think it’s a number of things, but it’s just simple hockey.” Farabee said about the line’s success. “We’re not really trying to do too much.  We’re getting it in and getting it in on the forecheck and I think for us it’s creating a lot of turnovers and just using that as offense. When you’re kind of cheating the game that’s when you tend to give up stuff. Just trying to play simply, get it behind their D and go to work.”

Vigneault will hope for more success from his second line as the Flyers aim for a third-consecutive home win on Saturday night. After scoring six goals in each of the last two victories this week, the Flyers will be full of confidence to down the Florida Panthers and keep moving up the standings in the NHL before next week’s first road trip.

You can follow Larry Henry on Twitter (@lhenry019) and e-mail him at

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