The Philadelphia Flyers were off to a solid start this season. Sitting nicely at 5-3 after a hard fought 5-1 win last Saturday against the reeling Edmonton Oilers. One would have thought it was a sign of good things to come. Unfortunately, the injury came at a big cost. Longtime ridiculed defenseman for good reason, Andrew MacDonald was injured after blocking a shot on the penalty kill late in the game.
MacDonald managed to clear the puck down the ice on one leg, but received some bad news after the game. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks due to a lower body injury. One would have thought young stud defenseman Samuel Morin would of had his shot in the NHL by now, but he didn’t receive a call up until late Sunday evening.
After the orange and black lost on Tuesday 6-2 to the Anaheim Ducks, and then again Thursday night 5-4 against the Ottawa Senators. It became apparent the Flyers defense misses Macdonald. Who would have thought the defense would look that leaky after Macdonald’s injury? Some thoughts that are running through my head are I am dead wrong about Macdonald as he is important to the Flyers after all, and will the Flyers survive without him?
MacDonald was a catalyst who struggled to clear the zone on a nightly basis during the months of December through February in the 2016-17 season. His overall numbers were not too shabby, finishing the year with 2 goals, 16 assists for a total of 18 points, and was -5. However, he struggled with turnovers when he had to clear the puck from his own zone. This led to odd man rushes and breakaways on the goaltenders, thus placing them into really tough situations night in and night out. It really made the Flyers defense look leaky.
Let’s take a look at the final Corsi ratings for Flyers defensemen. Second year blueliner Gostisbehere had the highest Corsi rating finishing with 53.7%. To no one’s surprise, MacDonald finished with the worst Corsi Rating for a Flyers defensemen with 48.0%. Although, a Corsi rating is not contributed to takeaways and giveaways. A player with a lower Corsi rating often finds themselves chasing the puck more. It also places the team more often in defensive situations.
With the cards stacked against MacDonald coming into this season. It’s truly nice to see him put a decent year together. His overall numbers have vastly improved, as he is second to last in Flyers defenseman with a Corsi Rating of 47.7%. More importantly, he isn’t turning the puck over as often. MacDonald in turn has been a solid stay at home defenseman this season. He has registered 1 goal, 0 assists, and is a plus 1 in 8 games played. If your a plus player, then it means your doing things right on the ice.
The orange and black are 2 goals below the league average of 33. A lot of this is contributed to the solid pairing of Ivan Provorov and Macdonald. They seem to work well together as a unit. In MacDonald’s three game absence the Flyers have allowed 13 goals, and have a record of 1-2. That’s an average of over 4 per game. Of course, some of this is contributed to the goaltending, but it’s mind boggling that Macdonald may have been the glue that held the defense together. Head coach Dave Hakstol had this to say following his injury.
“Yeah, he makes a lot of those plays during a hockey game. That one, obviously is a highlight type of play. Not just to block the shot, but then to make a play after that as well, to stay out there and make a play at a critical time of a hockey game. Those are the kinds of things that give your bench a little bit of momentum and a bit of a lift.”
This important character person in MacDonald was voted by the players to wear the “A,” for assistant captain all season. I again was shocked, as I never knew that he was that type of guy. Macdonald appears to be a low key type of guy, not the outspoken leadership type. However, it’s evident the players love him as they gave him the “A.” Moreover, Jakub Voracek had this to say about Macdonald following the injury.
“Yeah, those are the sacrifices you got to make. Mac is one of the best in blocking shots. So kudos to him and I think the PK was good all game.”
I’m going to come clean Flyers fans. I was wrong about Macdonald being done as a Flyer, and that there was no hope for him. He has performed solidly this year, and I have to admit it. They miss Macdonald on the blueline, so hopefully he comes back 100%. One thing is certain Flyers fans, the future is bright in Flyer land.
Stay tuned for an injury update to defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. Ghost’s injury must be significant, as the Flyers called up Samuel Morin late Sunday evening. With the call up, Morin will be in the lineup for Mondays contest against the Arizona Coyotes. It’s an unfortunate injury to Ghost, as he played very well with Ivan Provorov against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports