Losing Read is "No Excuse"
Matt Read will be out for the next six weeks due to torn chest muscles. This latest development proved to be the exclamation point to an already disappointing start for the Philadelphia Flyers, especially how Read had shaken the sophomore slump and scored seven goals and six assists in 18 games.
The Flyers already have to deal with Scott Hartnell out of the lineup for the next 7-10 days, and Andrej Meszaros out for about that length of time as well. Each of these losses seem akin to a blow-by-blow beatdown. When will the bleeding stop?
Read, a consistent goal scorer, and a player that found a different level this season, left the game against Pittsburgh on Saturday. Paul Holmgren announced he would just miss the game—that is, until the bad news came before the game on Thursday that it would be a long-term injury. Not to mention, this proved to be an uncommon injury as well.
Flyers forward Danny Briere mentioned how injuries to big players seem to be following the team like a plague over the last few seasons.
"We have to keep going, keep moving forward," Briere said. "I don't think [losing Read] is an excuse we can use."
Head coach Peter Laviolette used Read in a top-line capacity this season, especially after he broke out with a hat trick against the Florida Panthers on January 16. His latest masterpiece came just a few days ago with a three-point effort against the New York Islanders.
"It's tough. That line had gotten put together and there was so much chemistry with it," Laviolette said. "You go to the end of the game and look at all the scoring chances that line created and they were in the teens together."
Laviolette has been unafraid to employ the speedy forward in any situation on top of top-line duty, including in all forward positions, and on the power play and penalty kill. Losing Read is a monumental blow to the reeling Flyers, who would love a bit of good news this season. When will said good news arrive?
"There's no feeling sorry for yourself or the team," Flyers forward Mike Knuble said. "It's all part of the way things are rolling this season. It's too bad for him. He was off to a good start."
"It's too bad for us. We're going to miss him, but again, there's not a lot of time to worry."
Seems to be a common theme, but how the Flyers move on from this latest development will prove what this team is made of. After all, they must face stiff conference competition due to the shortened schedule.
Read will miss around 18 games due to this injury. Seven of those 18 games will be against divisional foes—once against the Islanders, twice against the Penguins, twice against the Devils and two more against the Rangers to round it out. Five of those games will be against the parity-filled Northeast Division.
Easy enough, right?
Fans will just have to cling to the age-old cliche that Claude Giroux used at the end of last night's game. Giroux said the team must make do with what they have, and that he is confident in the team that takes to the ice on a nightly basis.
As frustrating at it seems, it is Giroux himself that must be the "next man up." His lacking production has hurt this team more than Read's absence ever could. It seemed that he was back on track after two strong performances against the Islanders and the Penguins, but he pulled a frequent vanishing act against the Panthers on Thursday.
Losing Read hurts, but if it is any indication, the players are prepared to move on and work towards building a winning record. That journey will not be easy, but it could prove to be that galvanizing moment that brings this group together. By the same token, it could be the moment that tears everything apart.
Next up is Winnipeg, coming off of a big 4-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes. The journey towards winning starts with that game. If the Flyers put forth an effort like in Pittsburgh, great. If the effort lacks like it did against the Panthers, not good.
Until April 3, the Flyers will have to claw and scratch for any point. Losing him may be no excuse, but outsiders can only hope they truly believe that on top of just saying it.