It felt inevitable but hurts nonetheless. Matt Niskanen has been suspended for one game after cross-checking Brendan Gallagher during Wednesday’s loss to the Canadiens. Niskanen broke the jaw of Gallagher in the process, so both teams will be without key players for a crucial game 6.
Niskanen did struggle last game. He was caught napping on several occasions and it was Carter Hart who paid the ultimate price. Frustration built and if there was ever a player who was going to get a rise out of him, it would’ve been the mouthiest Canadien on the ice – Brendan Gallagher, who many compare to Travis Konecny in terms of talking trash to opponents.
Alain Vigneault defended his player after the game, saying the following:
My estimation though, Gallagher got up and seemed fine. He was talking to the referees. The whole time that he was on the bench he was talking to our players for the rest of the game. Gallagher’s a very competitive player. I don’t think it’s Nisky’s fault that he might not be as tall as some of the other guys, but he competes as big, if not bigger than anybody else. Just seemed a hockey play that unfortunately cut him a little bit.
Losing Nisky really hurts the Flyers. Through the regular season, the newcomer and former Capital had 33 points (25 assists) through 68 games. His impact on Ivan Provorov has been made inherently clear since his arrival and breaking up the duo for a game will really test the depth defensively.
Look for Justin Braun and Phil Myers to both receive a bump in the lineup tomorrow, with the return of Gostisbehere factoring into Vigneault’s adaptation plan. As far as a direct replacement, Myers may be young, but he’s shown he can chop it up with the big boys and a pairing with the Flyers’ best defenseman may only elevate his game. We’ll look into some potential lineup changes tomorrow and keep you posted with any updates, so stay locked in!
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre