Results this week: Hurricanes 2, Flyers 1; Devils 5, Flyers 2; Flyers 2, Senators 1 (SO); Flyers 3, Capitals 2 (OT)
Current record: 16-18-7, 39 points
Record at this point last year: 20-17-4, 44 points
Upcoming schedule: Jan 10 vs Bruins, Jan 12 vs Lightning, Jan 14 at Capitals, Jan 15 vs Canucks
It’s a play that happens thousands of times a season: players from opposing teams go into the corner to fight for the puck. There’s contact. One emerges with the puck. Only this time, a skate blade happens to come up.. it clips Claude Giroux’s lower leg… he goes to the ice in obvious pain.. tries to get up… can’t put weight on it.. goes back down… they’re motioning for help as opposing players rush over to assist him…
…and suddenly, this brutal season-to-be-forgotten wasn’t so important.
It’s scary to see anyone get hurt like that, hurt to the point where colors and logos disappear and all that’s left is co-workers on the ice assisting one of their own. Scarier still was that it was the man who wears the C for us; like Eric Lindros getting crushed by Scott Stevens or Mikhail Grabovski’s stick hitting Chris Pronger in the face, this had the potential to be a complete destiny-changer for the Flyers.
The immediate scare was the skate had cut Giroux’s Achilles tendon. It’s a serious injury that can end careers; Flyers prospect Eric Wellwood suffered a horrific accident in 2013 when his right skate got caught behind his left leg during an AHL game and severed three tendons and cut through seventy percent of his Achilles. He never played again.
Fortunately for the Flyers, Giroux came out after the game and said it didn’t hit his Achilles and that he’d be okay eventually, but this was a reminder how dangerous the game is and how fragile future plans can be for a team. For Flyers fans, it was a chance to exhale and realize that they wouldn’t lose yet another captain to some on-ice incident and have it set them back as a franchise for years yet again.
As for the games themselves? They lost to the Hurricanes and the Devils (and allowed old friend Jaromir Jagr a hat trick in the process), two teams they had a good chance to beat. The Flyers bagged their first shootout win in forever against the Senators by playing a strong third period and riding a pair of Wayne Simmonds goals, one in regulation and the winner in the shootout. They continued that play through to the Washington game, where they controlled most of the game, fought hard, and won in overtime thanks to a Voracek slapper on a 4 on 3 power play.
About the Washington game: Nick Grossmann went out due to an upper body injury, and it was a perfect storm of a lot of things Flyers fans had been calling for: the removal of Zac Rinaldo (injury), Andrew MacDonald (coach’s decision) and Nick Grossmann (injury) from the lineup. The Flyers defense was dynamic, Nick Schultz had two assists, and it seemed like both of the Washington goals (an Ovechkin blast from the wing on a power play, and a Backstrom tip that seemed to be above the crossbar) weren’t the kind to be blaming on anyone.
It’ll be interesting to see if Berube goes with some kind of combination like we saw after Grossmann went out, especially since it was working so well. I’d even take him putting MacDonald back in instead of Grossmann. We’ll see.
-Bellemare watch: busting his rear like he’s a blue-collar worker.
-Speaking of blue-collar, the Flyers organization may be losing sight of the fans who helped make them the franchise they are. I’ve spoken with several families who normally go to the Flyers Wives carnival but just can’t afford it now because the prices keep creeping upwards. People are already balking at season ticket prices now that the Flyers are bad; rising prices and falling performance are not a healthy combination for ticket sales. Fans will still show up as they did after the debacle of 2006-7; there will be no wholesale abandonment, but the Flyers could throw the loyal fans a bone by dropping prices a tiny bit.
-Wasn’t Paul Holmgren put in charge of the business end of the Flyers last year? Can we blame this on Homer? Let’s blame it on Homer. Works for me.
-Hockey writer Risto Pakarinen (@puckarinen on Twitter) found this exciting nugget in a Finnish article about Kimmo Timonen’s charity golf tournament: “I may have to wait for a couple of weeks to be cleared to skate, but it may come sooner, too.”
-I’ll repeat that: HOLY SMOKE, KIMMO MAY BE CLEARED TO SKATE.
-If the Flyers are going to embrace the advanced metric world, they probably want to hire a coach who doesn’t say things like “we’re going to play Luke Schenn tonight because of Washington’s big forwards”. Size doesn’t make the player, Chief. It’s like he’s never seen a smaller defenseman like Kimmo play and frankly, it’s embarrassing.
-There’s a nice piece here about the cap the Flyers present to a deserving player after each game. Berube has gotten a lot wrong this year, but he got this one right.
-To their credit, the players have not quit on this season or their coach. The Flyers were fined $50,000 for flying to Nashville on 12/26, a designated player holiday, for a game the next day. The reason they flew out a day early? The players went to the organization and asked to, feeling that if they got there early, they would have a better chance to win. While the decision didn’t yield any points (they lost 4-1), it shows that they still care about winning each game.
-How bad have the defensemen been overall this year? Steve Mason is fourth in the NHL in 5v5 save percentage, the Flyers have two people in the race for the Art Ross trophy, and they’re STILL a bottom 10 team.
–CapGeek is down for good due to the personal health of founder Matthew Wuest. I know for one I used the site a lot and will miss it, and wish Matthew all the best with whatever he is dealing with.
-A brief programming note: next week we’ll be bringing Kara and Dan back to get their take on the Flyers at the halfway point, along with the usual snarky, hard-hitting analysis that you crave every Friday.
Let’s Go Flyers!