Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren can’t sit idly by while his team continues reeling.
“I’m concerned because we’re falling behind here,” he told CSN Philadelphia. “We got to get going here.”
The penalty-prone Flyers lost six of their first eight games this season to sink to the Eastern Conference basement. CSN Philadelphia notes the last time they occupied 15th in the East for any sustained period of time was during the 2006-07 season.
Players have fallen to injuries left and right. Power forward Scott Hartnell may miss another month with his broken foot.
Power forward Wayne Simmonds could miss time, too, after taking a nasty elbow to the face from John Erskine of the Washington Capitals. He left the game with a bloody nose and a possible concussion.
Hartnell and Simmonds define the Flyers playing style. Both players hit, fight and score.
“If we lose Wayne for any stretch of time, that’s another big hole,” Holmgren said. “It’s hard to replace those kind of guys.”
Embattled coach Peter Laviolette will have to keep shuffling lines until he gets No. 1 center Claude Giroux going. Daniel Briere, Brayden Schenn, Matt Read, Jakub Voracek and newcomer Mike Knuble all need to get it going.
The NHL’s concussion epidemic claimed another superstar. Flyers captain Chris Pronger will be sidelined until next season, at least, due to severe post-concussion syndrome.
Pronger, 37, should think long and hard about returning from such a serious injury. This time it's not a knee or wrist that is ailing him, but his brain.
This news was a huge blow to the Flyers, a Stanley Cup contender. They are also dealing with the loss forward Claude Giroux, the NHL’s top scorer when he got hurt, and young center Brayden Schenn to concussions.
“Certainly, the news is not what we wanted,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “It's hard to replace a guy like that. He plays 26, 27 minutes a night, and there's not one person in the organization we can find somewhere to replace him.
“In saying that, we've been moving forward here for a while now without Chris and recently without Claude . . . Those injuries are tough to take, and our team has responded very well. That's evident in the fact we continue to win hockey games.”
How did it come to this? The Flyers are a bit mystified.
Maple Leafs forward Mikail Grabvoski inadvertently struck Pronger in the right eye with his stick back on Oct. 24. Initially the team only expressed concern was for his vision.
He missed six games, then returned to play five games. Then he bowed out with what the team termed a virus. The Flyers later announced that he was suffering from a concussion. The came Thursday’s bombshell about long-term disability.
“He’s a presence,” Scott Hartnell told CSNPhilly.com. “That’s the best I can say about him. He’s a presence in the room, a presence on the ice and he was a big factor in our run a couple years ago. When he’s in the lineup, he brings a lot of intangibles other guys can’t bring.”
For more on Pronger and other NHL news, check out this story on STLToday.com.
Should Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher get arrested for playing a trapping defensive scheme against Philadelphia?
Apparently he should, judging from the shrill complaints on Twitter and on the Versus telecast of the Flyers-Lightning game.
To expose the passive nature of the Lightning zone trap, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette had his defensemen simply hold the puck in their zone and burn some puck. The Flyers on their bench did their part by standing and taunting the Lightning for staying back in defensive formation.
Is this good for hockey? Of course not.
But I'm Boucher and my team is down a couple defensemen AND it isn't great defensively when at full strength, I'm doing what I have to do to win the game.
Wrote Greg Wyshynski: "Yeah, (Mike) Milbury, the 1-3-1 is 'wrong.' I'm sure those Tampa fans who were able to attend three rounds of the playoffs were offended.
Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson has struggled in several outings this season, so he probably didn't mind the lengthy gaps in action.
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