What Went Wrong in 2013 Part 3: Decimated By Injuries
This is the third of a five-part feature series on TCL Flyers titled "What Went Wrong in 2013."
By Chris Bengel (@DurtyPuckhead)
In sports, the phrase "injuries are part of the game" is used quite often. However, the popular phrase took on a whole new meaning for the Philadelphia Flyers during the shortened 2012-2013 regular season.
To put things into perspective, the Flyers lost 264 man games to injury or illness.
Some things were known heading into the season such the fact that defenseman Chris Pronger wouldn't see any action as he recovers from a concussion. The Flyers didn't have quite as much depth at the forward position as they did the season prior.
In an effort to improve their often lackluster defense, general manager Paul Holmgren shipped fan favorite forward James van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Luke Schenn. They also lost veteran winger Jaromir Jagr, who was signed by the Dallas Stars (but is now playing for the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals).
With not quite as much depth this season, the Flyers couldn't afford to suffer many significant injuries.
Unfortunately things got off to a rough start.
Veteran winger Scott Hartnell missed 16 games with a broken left foot. The Canadian native was hit in the foot by a Kimmo Timonen slap shot in just the third game of the season.
The Orange and Black posted a mediocre 8-8 record during Hartnell's absence. Hartnell only registered 11 points (eight goals & three assists) last season after recording 67 points including a career-high 37 goals during the 2011-2012 season.
Veteran center Danny Briere was once-upon-a-time a huge offensive weapon for the Flyers organization but certainly didn't live up to that billing this season. He started the season on the IR with a broken hand suffered in Germany.
The Quebec native only registered a mere 16 points (six goals and 10 assists). It was Briere's lowest goal total since the 2000-2001 season when he scored 11 goals for the Phoenix Coyotes.
Briere also suffered a concussion in practice around the trade deadline and wasn't the same after that, scoring just one goal in seemingly his final 22 games as a Flyer.
Forward wasn't the only position that suffered significant injuries for the Flyers.
Defenseman Andrej Meszaros missed 37 games due to a ruptured Achilles and torn left rotator cuff. He had surgery for the injury and missed a vast majority of the season.
Meszaros had been one of the Flyers' better defensemen since coming over to the club after he was traded from the Tampa Bay Lightning in the summer of 2010.
In five of his eight NHL seasons, Meszaros registered at least 25 points and dished out his fair share of hits. He also had at least one game-winning goal in all eight seasons, proving that he is not afraid to contribute on both ends of the ice.
But injuries claimed all of Meszaros’ seasons. He suffered two shoulder injuries, a back injury, wrist surgery and an Achilles injury. These injuries have prevented him from being the impact blueliner the Flyers thought him to be.
Nicklas Grossmann also missed significant time in his second season with Philadelphia. Grossmann was held out of 16 games due to a concussion.
The loss of defensive cogs like Meszaros and Grossmann was felt in a big way. The Flyers had to dress 13 different defensemen during the 2012-2013 season. There is such a thing as having a few injuries but this travels into snake-bitten territory.
Those injuries included Kimmo Timonen playing on a broken foot, Braydon Coburn's separated shoulder, and Kent Huskins' concussion.
Of course the season may have gone a little smoother if the Flyers had landed Nashville Predators defensemen Shea Weber. Philadelphia signed Weber to a massive offer sheet last July, but the Predators matched it and the Flyers were left standing out in the cold.
Flipping the page to next season, it would be wise to assume that Philadelphia beefs up in several areas.
Clearly, the talent level at the forward spot wasn't up to par with the losses of van Riemsdyk and Jagr. Injuries aren’t something that teams can avoid but if the Flyers can improve their depth across the board, they can be right back in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
Coming tomorrow in Part 4, John Russo writes about the effects of a shortened season.