Oct 25, 2013, 5:29 PM EDT
After ending their four-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over the injury-depleted Rangers at Wells Fargo Center last night, the Flyers, who have had their goal-scoring difficulties so far this season well-documented, loaned forward Tye McGinn, who leads the team with three goals, to their AHL affiliate in Glens Falls, NY.
So, wait. The Flyers, who are the not-so-proud owners of the second-fewest goals scored in the league with just 13 of them, are sending their leading goal-scorer to the minors?
Say what? You’re kidding, right?
Nope. And the move kind of makes some sense.
Scott Hartnell, who has missed the past few weeks with hockey’s ever-mysterious “upper-body injury,” has been cleared to return to the lineup and will do so tomorrow night when the Flyers travel to Long Island to square off with the Islanders.
Hartnell will fill a top-nine forward spot when he returns. At practice this morning, he reportedly skated alongside Jake Voracek and Brayden Schenn. With the Matt Read-Sean Couturier-Wayne Simmonds line actually scoring a goal last night, albeit by defenseman Braydon Coburn, it’s not expected that line will break apart.
That leaves the left-wing spot on Claude Giroux and Vinny Lecavalier’s line as the only top-nine forward position left and it looks like rookie Michael Raffl has beat out McGinn for the spot at least for now.
Raffl has shown an ability to create some plays since he’s been with the big club.
For one, he’s not afraid to shoot the puck. The 24-year-old Austrian has put nine shots on goal in the four games he’s played so far. That’s more than Giroux, Voracek and Couturier have each put up in those four games.
And shots on goal are something the Flyers desperately need. They average just 27.6 shots on goal, which is sixth-worst in the league. You can’t score if you don’t shoot. Just look at the Flyers’ failed three-on-one attempt in the third period last night where Giroux and Kimmo Timonen overpassed and didn’t even get a shot off, let alone on net.
Raffl is bringing some competitiveness and has shown the ability to use his skill to bring the puck into the zone. He’s just been a tad bit more consistent all-around than McGinn. It’s clear Flyers head coach Craig Berube likes Raffl in that spot too.
Sure, McGinn could have stayed here in Philadelphia with the big club, but it almost certainly would have been as a fourth-liner.
But a 23-year-old developing player like him needs as much time on the ice as he can get. He wouldn’t get that type of ice time here on the fourth line. It would have been a waste for both him and the team.
So, while it looks like a head-scratcher on paper to send the team’s leading goal-scorer to the minors as the team struggles mightily on offense, it makes some sense in the end. Hopefully that clears it up.
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