Scott Hartnell's Return Had His Team Pumped Up
Flyers forward Scott Hartnell may not have registered a point but his return was a welcome addition to the lineup.
Hartnell had five shots, a hit, and had two penalties in the Flyers' 5-3 win over the Jets. He played 14:54 of ice time which was sixth on the team in terms of that category.
The Flyers winger didn't shy away from his usual game of crashing the net and wreaking havoc on opposing goaltenders.
"I thought Hartsy played really well," fellow winger Danny Briere said. "He had a lot of spunk, a lot of emotion, some big hits, and he was always around the net. He is one of the reasons we came back. It’s his demeanor, the way he wanted it. It was fun to see, it was fun to see him back in the lineup.”
This was only Hartnell's fourth game this season as he was injured against the New Jersey Devils back on January 22. The Saskatchewan native was physical and mixed it up with nearly every Jet that crossed his path.
Hartnell's presence in the lineup should help fill the void left by Matt Read. Read is scheduled to miss the next six weeks with a muscle tear in his ribs.
Many questioned whether Hartnell pushed his return back a little sooner than the team may have wanted due to the injury to Read and the 5-2 loss to Florida on Thursday.
"I don’t think so," Hartnell said when asked about whether his return had to do with Read's injury. "They were playing so good together. I wanted to help the team and get back there and get focused and get ready. Tonight was a big comeback win for us too, being down 3-2 going into the third. Us working hard for the power plays that we got and the guys burying on it. Everyone was happy and it’s a huge, huge two points for us."
His return came to a surprise to a few of his teammates. Even though he told Giroux the night before of his return, his presence at the Wells Fargo Center early on Saturday was a welcoming shock to some of the players.
Wayne Simmonds said that Hartnell was the first person there and his presence "got everyone pumped up." He was also amazed at how fast Hartnell returned from his broken foot.
"Yeah actually that was actually pretty short," Simmonds said. "For a broken foot, what was that four weeks exactly? I’m happy for him he played a great game as well."
Like any player working his way back from an injury, Hartnell won't be back to his old self off the bat. But his presence was definitely already felt in Saturday's win.
"I feel a little rusty but I think the timing and stuff will come," Hartnell added. "I told G [Giroux] and Jake [Voracek] they have been playing so good I just wanted to get them the puck and head to the front of the net, that’s where I make a living. I had some chances, especially the first couple shifts there, Jake made a great pass and if I had been playing in all the other games, that goes in the net, but I was just happy to get through and game and no worries right now."
Hartnell's head coach was very pleased with the return of the 30-year-old alternate captain.
"Really good," coach Peter Laviolette said when asked about Hartnell's return. "You know when you’re not sure where a guy’s going to be at after missing so much time and not really getting a lot of practice time. In those 8:00 where things weren’t going well he was very noticeable for us. He was skating, he was physical and he was agitated at times."
Hartnell's return is huge for one reason other than his presence on the ice. His role in the locker room may be the biggest asset that he can bring to the Flyers.
He provides a veteran presence on a team that is still very young. Guys like Hartnell, Giroux, and Briere are extremely huge forces on this team with the Flyers losing players like Jaromir Jagr and James van Riemsdyk this past offseason.
Hartnell may not be at 100-percent right now but the fact that he's back in the lineup, bodes well for a young team that has Stanley Cup aspirations.