The NHL announced today that it will suspend its current season in wake of the recent coronavirus developments across the country. With the NBA deciding to press pause on their season after Rudy Gobert was deemed to have the virus, the NHL soon followed suit, issuing the following reasoning:
“Given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point – it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time.”
“Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup. Until then, we thank NHL fans for your patience and hope you stay healthy.”
So what does this mean for the NHL’s hottest team?
The Philadelphia Flyers had their nine-game winning streak buried by Tuuka Rask and the Bruins a few short nights ago and were set to clash with the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight. Instead, the Flyers will stay the night in Tampa before returning back to Philadelphia and waiting for further updates.
The calm before the storm
Every cloud has a silver lining and for the Flyers, it comes in the way of a breather. Although they’ve been slicing through the NHL like a Hot Knife through Butter, they’ve picked up some bumps and bruises along the way.
James Van Riemsdyk suffered a fracture to his right index finger in the team’s monumental win over the Capitals. His timetable was previously uncertain, with some optimism around a possible return for what was to become an inevitable playoff push. That now becomes far more likely with the league currently on hold.
This could be huge for the Flyers. Van Riemsdyk had tallied 19 goals and 21 assists for 40 points this season, making 65 appearances for the Flyers and manning their third line.
He’s not the only one who could benefit from the break, either. Philippe Myers is out for four weeks with a fractured Patella (knee). With 16 points in 50 games, the 23-year old was really beginning to come into his own and there’s no doubting that this loss hurt the team. However, there is now a slight chance that Myers will return to action in time for a playoff charge.
Recently-acquired center Nate Thompson was set to miss around two weeks with a knee sprain. This was originally going to push Connor Bunnaman into an important role, but the season’s suspension buys Thompson, and the team, some much needed time.
Finally, this will do two currently healthy players the world of good. Due to the injury to Myers, Shayne Gostisbehere played in just his second game since returning from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, in the loss to Boston. His performance was pleasantly surprising. Some extra time to make sure his body is at 100% can’t be seen as a bad thing. Ghost had previously spent a conditioning stint down at Lehigh Valley, but if a few weeks working his way back to peak condition can help his performance on the ice as opposed to what may be a more gradual process with the pressures of in-game action, then again, this is a positive.
Carter Hart is the other Flyer who may benefit from this break. The wonderkid has been red-hot as of late, most recently being named the NHL Next Gen player of the week. Hart suffered an abdominal injury back in January and even though he may be back to (and beyond) his best, he’s seen plenty of action since his return. Reducing fatigue and ensuring he’s ready for what promises to be a fast and frantic end to the season and his first taste of playoff hockey.
Just the *however many there are* of us
Team bonding is always fun, right? Probably not. But it’s important and especially so in sports. The Flyers have a very young core and most recently acquired two players at the trade deadline in the way of Derek Grant and Nate Thompson.
While winning is the best medicine and the Flyers have had a strong dosage, being able to gel without the pressure of playing one night, traveling a day later and repeating that same cycle all week could do wonders.
When the Flyers travelled to Prague for their home opener, Jake Voracek took the team out to dinner and to view some of the gorgeous sights of his home country. The energy that instilled in the team was obvious. Ivan Provorov told me how exciting he found the soccer match he attended, while Kevin Hayes spoke about fun he found it all. After all, the now-iconic ‘winning song’ was first instilled with that season-opening win over the Blackhawks…
While the Flyers won’t be galivanting around Tampa Bay (or anywhere for that matter), some extra time to bond, especially after the win-streak slowly fell off following a deflating win over Buffalo and a tough loss to the Bruins, could be of real benefit to Vigneault’s team.
We don’t know how long the league suspension will last, but we urge you all to stay safe, wash your hands, and smile. We’ll still be pushing out as much Flyers content as we can in the meantime, so stay locked in!
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre