Defense, defense, defense. It seems as if the only thing Flyers fans care about is defense right now. Rightfully so. Their offense is rolling, Couturier is absolutely thriving as the top line center now, and the fourth line could quite be the best fourth line in the NHL right now talent-wise. The offense has nothing to worry about.
The defense has been about as mediocre as it can get. You have your good games, like the night they beat the Caps 8-2. You have your bad nights, when the Ducks come into town and just skated circles around them. All in all, it could be much worse. Could it be better, however?
Recently, many fans and analysts alike have been calling for a familiar name to rejoin the Flyers blueline. A towering familiar name that just recently reminded Bobby Farnham that he’s one bad SOB. That bad man’s name is Samuel Morin, and he’s not knocking on the door, he’s knocking down the door to get to the NHL.
Morin is a physical monster. He is six feet six inches tall and weighs over 200 pounds. He towers over opponents. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that the type of player that the Flyers lack so desperately? Don’t they need someone who can sit in front of their netminders and keep the line of sight clear to give them a chance at the puck? I know I’m not the only one who notices these things. Clearly, many Flyers fans have been calling for Morin to get promoted to the big club since he got sent down at the beginning of the year.
When you look at who the Flyers have manning the blueline, pun intended, nobody is impressed. Sure, we have some exceptional young talent with Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere, and a guy in Robert Hagg who doesn’t excel in any one particular aspect of the game, but is solid across the board. Sanheim I am reluctant to put up in the same category due to the slow start. He is young, yes, and he will take a little more time to develop into the stud defenseman that we all know he will be, but that time may not be now.
This is where it gets messy. You have three guys in Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning, and Andrew MacDonald. MacDonald is out for a little over a month due to an injury, Gudas just got superman punched into 2018 (thanks for that one, Austin), and Manning has been flat out uninspiring. You have two easily replaceable defenseman in Manning and MacDonald, and one that if you really needed to, you could.
For argument sake, we are going to say that one needs to go. Morin is the person in question, and if we are looking to replace one player on the Flyers’ blueline, it has to be Manning. Manning’s play has been flat, he brings little to nothing to the table in terms of ability, and he just flat out sucks right now.
One big reason that Manning would be the one to go, and some will disagree with me, is that MacDonald is too valuable to the organization. There is a reason that he is wearing the “A” on his chest. Obviously his teammates value him in a leadership role with the squad, or else he wouldn’t be an alternate captain. Manning isn’t at that level yet, even though he is considered a veteran of the organization.
Another reason that Manning goes is that Gudas was given that extension. Sure, Manning was as well, but one year is enough to sure him up and deal him at the deadline as a rental utility guy. If he isn’t dealt, he walks out the door and maybe to another team. His deal was low risk, high reward, plain and simple. So far, the reward has been nonexistent. Unless his play does a complete 180 degree turn, don’t expect Manning to be donning the orange and black next year, or even after the deadline comes and goes.
My third and final reason for Manning being the one to go is pretty simple, he just isn’t that good. No Flyers fan can name a time other than when he went after McDavid, that they actually cheered for him. He is a homegrown talent, having come up through Lehigh Valley, and has put his time in and paid his dues, but the time that he put in, he didn’t put in fast enough because now, younger and better prospects are coming up through the pipeline faster than ever, and leaving Manning in the dust.
So does this all add up to a call up for Morin? I believe that it will. Right now, the Flyers are sitting at six defensemen on their roster, and that isn’t enough. Not to mention, 10 of their next 11 games are against western opponents, typically known for their size and strength advantage over sometimes faster eastern adversaries. Come their game against Arizona next week, that would be the perfect time to bring Morin up and have him make his debut.
You have a big, strong, physical guy who can scrap when need be, who is sitting, waiting in the wings for his chance to prove himself. What about that doesn’t scream “Give this guy a shot!”? How motivated do you think Samuel Morin is right now, knowing that he essentially had a roster spot locked up at the beginning of training camp, and ended up being the last one sent down, yet again, for the second year in a row? Talk about motivation.
You fans are justified in wanting Morin playing with the Flyers. The fact of the matter is, is that the Flyers do not have a big strong guy who can clear the crease. Our goalies are struggling with these smaller defensemen who are unable to push the big forwards out of the way for Neuvy and Elliott to see the puck. You have one question, and the answer is sitting in Lehigh Valley right now, biding his time until Hextall makes the call and brings him back up.
Morin’s time is coming. He will end up with the Flyers at some point this season, and when he does, expect nothing short of fireworks. You’re going to see a man possessed, someone who is going to give you a performance night in and night out that proves that he was worthy of a roster spot all along. Morin belongs in Philadelphia, and soon enough, that will become a reality.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports