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Hartnell’s Eventual Return Creates Interesting Decision: Who to Sit?

 

Scott Hartnell’s return to the Flyers lineup is inevitable.

Certainly it’s going to be a huge bonus getting back the team’s leader in goals scored last season with _. But a bit of a dilemma will hit head coach Peter Laviolette when his star left-winger does return.

Unfortunately for the Flyers, the guys for them who are playing their best hockey are the guys who aren’t doing the scoring. And those who need to step their game up and perform better are those relied upon to put the puck in the back of the net.

Claude Giroux’s name has already been thrown around quite a bit for his lack of contribution in the scoring department. Then there is Danny Briere, who has four points in 11 games this season, and currently has one point in his last six games.

Fortunately for those two, one is the team’s captain and best player while the other is one of their top scorers when healthy. Their little run of bad luck is hardly anything to make drastic decisions over, and eventually they will both shake off their frustrations.

When Hartnell does come back it will mean one of a handful of players could possibly lose valuable ice time that they have earned so far this season.

Recently re-acquired Mike Knuble, rookie Tye McGinn, enforcer Zac Rinaldo and off season addition Ruslan Fedotenko have all had their names thrown around as to see some healthy scratch time with Hartnell returning.

Laviolette loves having Rinaldo in the lineup. He’s been an absolute spark plug on the fourth line, throwing his body around and agitating the heck out of other team’s players.

McGinn has been playing tremendous hockey, using his size to get to loose pucks down low and win battles along the boards. He even fights, proving to be a good protector for his linemates when needed.

That leaves the decision down to Knuble and Fedotenko, who benefit the Flyers on the special teams.

Fedotenko has been a key member of their penalty kill unit along with Max Talbot, Sean Couturier, Giroux and Matt Read. And though he’s been a part of a fourth line that has been a huge spark on the ice, his 12 minutes are replaceable.

Knuble has been a minor contributor on the power play, mainly when the Flyers need a big body in front of the net. But he’s also been incredible on a line with Read and Couturier, and has been as valuable as a leader as Jaromir Jagr was last season.

There is also the possibility another Flyers goes down to injury. In a shortened season with little time to prepare, we’ve seen star players going down left and right to injuries already including Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson in Ottawa, Gabriel Landeskog in Colorado and Max Pacioretty in Montreal to name a few. 

And if no one gets hurt, then Laviolette will have to make a decision. And when he does, it will be scrutinized no doubt if the team doesn’t turn things around.