The Philadelphia Flyers are struggling to make the playoffs and they don’t need any more issues.
Injuries are never good for any team. They cause holes in the roster and sometimes lead to slumps in a team’s performance. The Philadelphia Flyers are just the latest team to be struck by the injury bug. The team is coming off of an overtime win in Toronto that saw their star rookie Shayne Gostisbehere score the game winning goal. Yet the Flyers won without two of their star centers and that might not be a good sign, regardless of how it might sound. Toronto has some of the fewest wins in the NHL and while a win is still a win, the Flyers can’t move forward with injured players. The team needs to earn as many points as they can in the next few weeks if they have a chance of clinching a position.
It’s not as if the team has a easier schedule. They face the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night, a team who is one point ahead of them in the standings. A win would be critical but there is an issue. While the team is lucky enough to welcome back Sean Couturier, they’re still without Claude Giroux and Michael Del Zotto. Couturier is a welcome relief for the Flyers. His nine-game absence due to a foot/ankle injury was felt by the team. Speaking to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Gostisbehere said “Having him back is huge,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said after the morning skate here. “I don’t think you realize how much you miss him until he’s actually gone.” Couturier has 16 points in his past 16 games and has been a top producer for the Flyers. The team doesn’t do as well when he’s out, having gone 3-3-3 with him out. His return Tuesday night might just be the push the team needs to move up in rankings.
A huge loss for the team is of Michael del Zotto. He had been performing well with the team but the defensemen was injured on February 13th in the Flyers’ 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils. He has previously injured his left wrist and re-aggrivated the injury. The first injury had occurred back in December 2015 and he missed two games. It’s been hit or miss with del Zotto’s wrist since then but the latest injury seemed to be more severe. He was a significant force in all areas of the Flyers’ game and it will hard proceeding with the rest of the season. Del Zotto is going to be undergoing surgery for Friday in Philadelphia to repair ligament damage. He’ll likely be out 3-4 months and the injury deals a big blow to the Flyers’ playoff hopes.
Despite the return of Couturier, the Flyers still have to deal with the loss of their other center, Claude Giroux. His absence is just another setback for a team making a playoff push. Giroux was out with an upper-body injury against Toronto and will also be out against the Hurricanes Tuesday night. Hakstol has been considering Giroux day-to-day but with the type of injury undisclosed, it’s hard to see a time frame for his return. He’s been a dynamite player and is one of five Flyers who have played in every single game during the NHL season.
Giroux is also leading the team in scoring, with 16 goals and 33 assists for 47 points thus far. He’s strong on the ice for the Flyers during face-offs and currently ranks third in the NHL for face-offs taken and won. The fact that his condition is uncertain laves the Flyers with a big hole. Their first line will need to be re-arranged to find someone who can work with the rest of his comrades. The sooner Giroux can return to the roster, the better it would be for a team who needs to bring their best in order to win a playoff spot. If the Flyers can overcome their disadvantages, they might just be a team worthy of a playoff position.