The National Hockey League has reported an increase in concussions over the past few weeks and the Philadelphia Flyers are one of the teams hit hard with two key players being lost to concussions.
The Orange and Black first got the news that their captain, Chris Pronger, would be out for the rest of the season including playoffs due to severe post concussion syndrome. Then the teams’ leading scorer, Claude Giroux, was accidentally kneed in the head by teammate, Wayne Simmonds, and the team found out that Giroux was also out indefinitely with a concussion.
The Flyers seem to be a resilient group this season especially with all of the injuries they have had. It just seems like whoever is plugged into the lineup makes the most of their time with the big club. For some players, it’s just taking advantage of increased ice time after getting bumped up to the first or second line. Marc-Andre Bourdon and Kevin Marshall have played solid since coming up from the Phantoms and filling in for the injured Andreas Lilja and Pronger.
Defenseman Matt Carle has also stepped up his game since Pronger went out with the concussion and knee injury. He has played more minutes per game and is proving that he can be pretty good without Pronger as his defense partner. Jake Voracek has also been playing better since he has gotten more ice time playing at even strength, on the power play and on the penalty kill with both Giroux and Sean Couturier out of the lineup.
If the same guys that were here last year still played on this team then they would have fallen apart by now and would probably have a long losing streak by now. The veteran leadership has really kept this team together and going in the early part of the season.
There are reports saying that Giroux could return to the lineup as early as Wednesday night when the Flyers take on the Dallas Stars. Hopefully, the organization keeps him out of game action until after Christmas. A few more games without Giroux won’t make or break the season for the Orange and Black. The veteran leaders and Peter Laviolette have really kept this team from falling flat on their faces with all the injuries to star players.
The power play is where the Flyers really miss Giroux and his ability to weave through traffic and get the puck in the zone so the power play can get set up. The units just can’t get the puck in the offensive zone. If someone does manage to get the puck in the zone, the shot is usually blocked from the point or the Flyers get outworked by the opposing penalty kill unit and the puck get cleared down to the defensive end of the ice.
Giroux is the quarterback of the power play, staying on the half boards and making the pass or taking the shot with traffic in front of the net. They will miss Pronger on the power play too because there is no one else on the team that has his hard shot from the point that can manage to hit the net.
The Orange and Black can’t win a championship with both Pronger and Giroux out of the lineup. They’ll miss Giroux more if he’s out for a long stretch of games during the regular season. Pronger is a big loss come playoff time because he plays that gritty style and is willing to do whatever it takes to win. He can play physical along the boards against the other team’s top lines, he’ll keep his own team in line by saying what need to be said and he’s a big physical presence that’ll eat up ice time on the blue line.
Laviolette will probably just stick with the three assistant captains with Pronger and Giroux both out right now. If he does decide to name a captain with both of those players out, most likely it will be Danny Briere. He has the experience from when he was a captain in Buffalo with the Sabres and he already is wearing an ‘A’ on his jersey for the Flyers.