It’s been hard to get a grasp on the 2011-12 Philadelphia Flyers. There’s been a bit of inconsistency and the biggest reason for that is the injury bug just doesn’t seem to be going away at all for the Flyers. The long layoff between games (five days) didn’t do anything to stop another Flyer from hitting the shelf.
In the latest injury report, Chris Pronger will now have knee surgery and miss at least the next 4 weeks, putting his status for the Winter Classic up in the air. Everyone thought Pronger has just been missing time due to a virus, so it was a bit of a shock when this came up. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren had a conference call with reporters earlier today. He confirmed Pronger has been missing games because of the virus he’s had recently and not the knee, but they felt this was the time to get a nagging knee issue addressed. “Obviously Chris has played a long time. This has been an issue probably for the last month or so for him that’s been nagging,” Holmgren said. “He’s been playing through it up until this recent bout with his virus.”
Holmgren cited an issue with loose bodies in Pronger’s knee and it seems as though this is something that has been bothering Pronger for quite some time. The hysteria in the media regarding Pronger’s age and accusations of his body “breaking down” was not something Holmgren was buying into. “Any time a player has surgery, there’s concern,” stated Holmgren. “We’re worried because he’s going into surgery, yes, but long-term I still think Chris has a lot of miles left on his body, and based on his attitude about this and the way he takes care of himself and prepares, I think he’ll be fine.”
Chris Pronger is the latest Flyer to join the Flyers injury club. Jaromir Jagr has missed time with a nagging groin injury lately, and fellow defenseman Andreas Lilja will be also be placed on the long term injury list according to Holmgren. This is on top of injuries to forward Brayden Schenn and more recently James van Riemsdyk.
One piece of positive information is that it doesn’t seem like Jagr, van Riemsdyk, and Schenn will be out too much longer. Jagr could possibly return this weekend. JVR most likely won’t, but the Flyers aren’t expecting a “long term” issue.
As far as Brayden Schenn, many speculated would be called up with all of the injuries (and sudden cap room created by players going on LTI). Paul Holmgren confirmed this on Monday. “Yes, he will be [called up],” Holmgren said. “He was in town today to get a follow-up on his foot with Dr. Raikin and everything looks good there, he made it through the three games [with the Phantoms], so we will recall Brayden. “
This Flyers team is sort of reminiscent of the 2009-10 Flyers with the parade in and out of the lineup. The Flyers ended up 2 games short of a Stanley Cup victory that year. That team seemed to have their lineup healthy heading into the playoffs before losing Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter to injuries during the run. In the final game the Flyers had their lineup intact but they were extremely banged up.
There is a lot of talk regarding possible trades right now to bridge the gap until the Flyers can recover from these injuries. Sources say Holmgren has had some chats regarding possible moves, but nothing concrete as of yet.
One thing that is known for sure is Holmgren probably will not make a move until he absolutely has to. Translation: Until the Flyers start playing for a longer stretch like they did against the Rangers the other night, Holmgren won’t make any significant deals. The Flyers cap situation is one of the ugliest in the NHL and ANY move no matter how small the significance would cause a lot of headaches trying to get an NHL contract to fit under the cap.
While everyone has been trying to get a grip on this 2011-12 Flyers team and their identity, it looks as though it will have to wait even longer. With all of the injuries no one knows how big of a threat this team may be in the playoffs. Nobody knows how the goaltending will hold up if the defense is inconsistent.
After the five day layoff, the Flyers will play the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night in Southern California. While the Flyers are sure to juggle personnel soon, this next swing of games will determine how big (or how little) of a dealer Holmgren will be. I’m sure he’d prefer the latter. We may just see a glimpse of the team’s identity after all.
Flyers Side Notes:
To alleviate some of the cap trouble, the Flyers have waived forward Andreas Nodl. Holmgren cited Nodl hasn’t been playing much and it seemed as though he was most expendable. The Flyers will find out Tuesday if he clears waivers or not. If he does, it gives the Flyers the option to send him to Adirondack.