FRIDAY QUICK HITS
* The Flyers announced today that defenseman Nicklas Grossmann would miss approximately three weeks as a result of the upper-body injury (believed to be right shoulder) that he sustained on a first-period hit by Washington’s Tom Wilson in the first period of Thursday’s 3-2 overtime win over the Washington Capitals.
* Philadelphia reached the statistical midpoint of the 2014-15 regular season last night.
They are 16-18-7. At the midpoint last year, the Flyers were 20-17-4 (44 points) before going 22-13-6 (50 points) in the second half to finish 42-30-10 (94 points). Realistically, when the team will have to play well north of 50 points in half a season to even make the lower wildcard cutoff, this team has very little margin for error the rest of the season. As a team, the Flyers have to a take a positive, one-game-at-a-time outlook rather than thinking of the gap in the standings. The odds of climbing out of the hole they’ve dug themselves are pretty daunting, but the players and coaches can’t view things from a negative mindset.
* If the season ended today, my picks for the Flyers team awards would be as follows:
Bobby Clarke Trophy (Flyers MVP): Jakub Voracek. Runners Up: Claude Giroux, Steve Mason.
Barry Ashbee Trophy (Best defenseman): Mark Streit. Runner up: Nick Schultz.
Yannick Dupre Memorial (Class Guy, past award winners never repeat, Voracek won last year): Steve Mason. Runners up: Mark Streit, Vincent Lecavalier.
Pelle Lindbergh Award (Most improved; a player-voted, not media-voted award): Nick Schultz.
Gene Hart Award (work ethic and dedication): Wayne Simmonds. Runnner-up: Jakub Voracek.
* The three Flyers prospects who participated in the World Junior Championships have rejoined their teams. Oskar Lindblom scored a goal for Brynäs in Thursday’s 4-2 home win over Djurgården. Robert Hägg will be back in the lineup for the Phantoms as they start a set of back-to-back road games against the St. John’s IceCaps on Saturday and Sunday. On Friday night, Samuel Morin’s Rimouski Oceanic takes on Val-d’Or (featuring 2014 Flyers second-round pick Nicolas Aube-Kubel) in QMJHL action. Morin had a goal and an assist and was a plus-four in Thursday’s 5-1 win over Rouyn-Noranda.
* On Wednesday, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said he was pleased overall by what he saw from the Flyers’ three players at the WJC.
Specifically, he said Hägg recovered nicely and settled in after a rough opening game against the Czech Republic but perhaps played a few too many minutes per game over the short tourney. Lindblom is now on everyone’s radar screen after leading the tournament in scoring through the quarterfinals. However, the Swedish team as a whole was not very good in the semifinals against the Russians or the bronze medal game loss to a much hungrier Slovakian team.
Morin, used as a seventh defenseman in most games, did not get as many minutes as the organization would have liked but Hextall felt Morin handled himself pretty well under the circumstances and playing on the gold-medal winning team was an invaluable experience.
* As mentioned in a previous blog, Phantoms defenseman Brandon Manning is the team’s lone representative at the AHL All-Star Game for the second time in his career. The 24-year-old blueliner has six goals, 23 points, 80 penalty minutes and a plus-three rating through 31 games. He dressed in two games for the Flyers in the first half of the season, keeping things simple and posting an assist. With eight defensemen currently at the NHL level, the Flyers will not recall Manning even with Grossmann on the shelf for several weeks. Carlo Colaiacovo slots up to be the seventh defensemen with periodic healthy scratches Luke Schenn, Michael Del Zotto and Andrew MacDonald all occupying starting spots.
* Tonight, the Flyers and the members of the Flyers Alumni Association will work in conjunction with USA Hockey and AAA Mid-Atlantic to host a youth hockey night at the Wells Fargo Center. There will be three hockey clinics for children ages eight and under, with 60 kids apiece in each segment taking part in drills and receiving hands-on instruction.
Among the participants in the event are Flyers club president Paul Holmgren, Flyers Hall of Fame inductee Brian Propp and longtime fan favorite Todd “Fridge” Fedoruk.
The event runs from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. (there will be media availability beginning at 6:30). Along with the Flyers taking the youth players through drills and instruction, there will be Q and A sessions for parents in attendance. USA Hockey personnel will run the on-ice clinics and “Chalk Talk” sessions with the parents.
* On Saturday evening, Jan. 10, the Flyers Alumni team will play a benefit game at the Ice Works in Aston, PA.The game, pitting the Alumni against the Checkmates Charitable Association, will raise money for the fight against Ulcerative Colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs). Game time is 7:30 p.m.
All proceeds will go to benefit Woodbury Medical Plaza Gastrointestinal Associates (DiMarino-Kroop-Prieto). There will also be a fundraising dinner with the Alumni. Tickets for the game cost $25 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. Adults can also purchase tickets for the dinner for an additional $10.
Former Flyers captain Kevin Dineen nearly saw his NHL career end prematurely due to Crohn’s Disease — a form of IBD — before he was correctly diagnosed and given a treatment plan. Today, Dineen is a national spokesperson for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.
For more information on the Flyers Alumni vs. Checkmates game and the cause it will help support, click here.