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Wednesday, January 23, 2013
News keeps getting worse for Flyers

By Scott Burnside


Is it possible we’re going to look back on these opening days of the 2013 season as the defining moment for the Philadelphia Flyers?

Already reeling from an 0-3 start that has seen them outscored 11-3, the Flyers got a double-whammy on Wednesday. First came the news that Brayden Schenn would be suspended for one game for his hit on Anton Volchenkov in Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils. But worse was the news that front-line winger Scott Hartnell would be lost indefinitely to a foot injury.

"Scott will be out indefinitely with a left foot injury. We will know more on this within a day or two as we await results of tests,” GM Paul Holmgren said in a statement released by the team Wednesday evening.

Hartnell, coming off a career year last season that saw him score 37 goals, is not just an offensive force for the team. He brings a snarl to his game that will be sorely missed by a team that can ill afford his absence.

A year ago, the Flyers entered the 2011-12 season with captain Chris Pronger in the lineup and a rejuvenated Jaromir Jagr stepping into top line duties with Hartnell and Claude Giroux.

That seems like a world away now.

Pronger is believed to be done playing hockey as a result of concussion-related injuries that saw him miss the second half of last season. Jagr is playing in Dallas, where he signed as a free agent in the offseason.

Veteran presence Daniel Briere is still rehabbing a wrist injury sustained while playing in Europe during the lockout and, while he skated Wednesday with Giroux, he is still a number of days away from returning to action. That means the Flyers are looking down the barrel of an 0-4 start with the defending Atlantic Division champion New York Rangers coming to Wells Fargo Center Thursday evening.

After that game, the Flyers play four straight on the road.

Now, no one loses a playoff berth in the first two weeks of a season, not even a truncated, 48-game season. But with the Flyers struggling out of the gate, this will give Holmgren and coach Peter Laviolette a chance to see who in their fine supporting cast is ready to step forward.

Last season, the maturity and consistency of a handful of young players like Sean Couturier, Matt Read, Eric Wellwood and Schenn propelled the Flyers through the season.

Couturier has one of the Flyers’ three goals, while new captain Giroux has the other two.

Someone will have to step up in the coming days and help pull the Flyers back onto the track. If they don’t, there’s a good chance we’ll look at these opening days and mark them as the point at which the season was lost.