Two games in, the second line of Brooks Laich, Tomas Fleischmann and Alexander Semin has combined for three goals, eight points, 11 shots and a plus-5 rating. On paper everything looks positive, but like much of the lineup this early in the year, there have been bad shifts and turnovers as they work out the kinks.
"They can be better," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I thought the first period in Atlanta they were good, then they had some defensive miscues. I thought again the same thing yesterday: Some parts were really good; some parts were not so good.... But I could go down the list and say everybody's been responsible for some not-so-good plays. I think that's what you get at the beginning of the year is a little inconsistency everywhere. They'll get better."
Pre-existing chemistry between the trio, as Laich and Semin played on the same line all of last season while Fleischmann joined them for stints throughout the year, goes a long way in determining how quickly they can get up to full speed this season, and so far, so good.
One of the key attributes of the combination thus far though has been the ability to create sustained pressure in the offensive zone, something Laich attributed to their collective hustle and also that the players all know their roles alongside each other.
"I know what my job is on the line. It's to chase pucks and get in on the forecheck and try to open ice for those guys," Laich said. "Something I think our line does a good job of is never letting the play die. Both of those guys have really good stick skills that even if we lose the puck, they can pull it out of feet, they can lift someone's stick to get it back and then we just back pressure through the middle and try to turn pucks over."
Fleischmann echoed Laich's sentiment, adding that it cannot be underestimated how much that established chemistry and complementary nature of the line have contributed to the trio's early success.
"We feel really good on the ice right now as a group," said Fleischmann, who has won 11 of the 20 faceoffs he's taken. "It's easy to play with those two guys and for us to produce some offense."
As for working out the hiccups in their game, Fleischmann said: "I played just two games in the preseason and it took a little bit. ... I think we'll have to see how it goes today, but I think we're back where we were. We just have to keep pushing forward."