The Scott Hartnell injury is only the latest occurrence in a string of incredible bad luck for the Philadelphia Flyers. After starting the season 0-3, Peter Laviolette was fired and Craig Berube was brought in to right the rapidly sinking team. While he won his debut by edging out the Florida Panthers, the Flyers dropped tonight’s contest to the Phoenix Coyotes.
Making matters worse was the loss of Hartnell, who left the game early in the first period and didn’t return. The team called it a lower-body injury. As per Philadelphia’s official website:
After the first period of Friday’s Flyers-Coyotes game, general manger Paul Holmgren announced that Scott Hartnell suffered a lower-body injury and will not return to the game.
Hartnell appeared in just four shifts for a total of 3:38 of ice time. Through the first four games of the season Hartnell is scoreless, while averaging just over 17 minutes of ice time per game.
The power forward was drilled from behind by Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who was ejected from the contest for the hit.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 9, 2013
While the loss is a tough one, it could open the door for this scrappy team to discover its identity. Look at what a rash of injuries did for the Ottawa Senators last season, or the Detroit Red Wings the year before. It could be wishful thinking for Flyers fans at this point, but things simply can’t get any worse.
With young players like Brayden Schenn, Matt Read and Sean Couturier in the fold, the opportunity is there for a few forwards to step up and leave their mark on this young season. It’s not too late for the team to turn things around, and oddly enough, this run of injuries could end up helping them in the long run.
Digging for a silver lining? Sure, but the kids can’t prove what they’ve got if they aren’t being given opportunity. Holes in the lineup (no matter how they materialize) can lead to rock solid players emerging as they cement more clearly defined roles. While it’s unclear at this time how serious Hartnell’s injury is, the chance to be a difference maker is there for the Flyers forwards who have been under-producing so far.