After writing my article on Flyers’ forward Zac Rinaldo a couple weeks ago, he unfortunately got injured. (I feel like I was bad luck for Rinaldo, seeing as I wrote that post about him, then he got injured at the game I went to) The Flyers seem to be playing with less energy these past couple games since Rinaldo has been absent. We are seeing the effect he has on the Flyers lineup and gameplan as a whole, providing energy with his hits and motivation with his 110% attitude. Not to mention all the chirping he does to get under the other teams skin. His absence was most noted in the Flyer’s 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers on January 12th. There was no energy, no jump in their step, no nothing. The Sabres game as well as the match against the Predators seemed the same way – they just are not playing a full 60 minutes of hockey. They are playing less physical and not showing up some periods, especially the 3rd period in the loss to the Islanders. Someone has to step up and fill Rinaldo’s spot until he gets back, and the best person for that job is Steve Downie.
Unfortunately, Downie has kind of fallen out of favor of both the Flyer’s coaching staff as well as the fans. I was a huge fan of the trade when it happened, I was utterly stunned that Colorado made that trade at all. However, since Downie has arrived it has not gone as well as I had hoped. First, he got socked in the face in that Capitals game we will never forget. Then he came back and just wasn’t acting as gritty and nasty like Downie normally would. Couturier was standing up for Downie in scrums, its supposed to be the other way around. But then he got hot with that line of him, Coots, and Read. That line was on fire, but then they had to change up the lines because all of the other lines were not performing to well at all. Since then Downie has been a ghost during the games, he just has not been noticeable at all. He got scratched for 2 games and then came back for the Predators game and wasn’t all too noticeable in that game. That is, until the last couple minutes of the game, his last shift.
Downie’s last shift of the Predators game he threw two pretty big checks that could have definitely been the Wells Fargo Great Check of the game, but for some reason they do that in the 2nd period. (And there is almost always two PowerBack Rehabilitation Comeback Goal of the game) That is how he needs to play every shift. He has to accept the fact that he isn’t going to be a 1st line player on this team, at least right now he wont be. He has to show the fans and the coaches that he is going to go all out every shift and that he isn’t afraid to chirp up the other team and annoy them into taking a bad penalty, which he has done the past couple games against the Islanders – he also took a bad penalty late in the game again, but that was a whole team collapse.
Steve Downie is vital to this teams success. I have no doubt that he could manage to score 15 more goals by seasons end if he gets on a hot streak. He is currently at 3, 2 of which were with the Flyers. He is the kind of guy that can get on a streak and start scoring goals. But right now he needs to focus on playing fundamental hockey the Steve Downie way: hitting hard, chirping the other team, get into scrums, and get into fights. He has to prove that he wants to be a part of this team, and with Rinaldo out of the lineup, there is no better opportunity than now for Downie to play his game and make sure he doesn’t get scratched again this season. Downie has to step up now in order for this team to succeed.