It goes completely against Ville Leino’s nature. But for the Flyers to get the most out of what has arguably been their top line — put together out of necessity during last year’s remarkable playoff run — it’s critical.
The 27-year-old Leino, who’s racked up 16 assists this year coming off setting a Flyers rookie postseason record with seven goals and 21 points, is starting to realize he can’t always pass.
For the Danny Briere-Scott Hartnell-Leino line to really thrive, the man from Finland knows he has to shoot the puck more.
If only because teams aren’t expecting it, due to his playmaking ability.
“I have to shoot more,” conceded Leino, looking forward to tomorrow’s first-place showdown with the Penguins, who’ve won their last 12. “I think a lot of times I have more room to shoot than I think.
“If I hold onto the puck longer I’m gonna get a good shot.”
Leino’s slick turnaround in Wednesday’s 5-4 shootout loss to San Jose was only his third goal in 14 games. He followed it up with another the next night in Toronto. He’s trying to make it a point to fire the puck on net whenever possible, rather than wait for his linemates to break free.
But having that line together from the start of the season has clearly paid dividends. Briere leads the team with 16 goals, while Hartnell has added seven and chipped in 13 assists.
“I think the three of us feed off each other real well,” Briere said.