COMMENTARY | Perhaps the most ironic thing about the Philadelphia Flyers 7-0 drubbing at the hands of the Washington Capitals on November 1st is that -- as of this writing -- the biggest injury they suffered from it didn't come during the now infamous line-brawl that escalated in the third period. It came from a good-old fashioned bout of fisticuffs between newly re-acquired forward Steve Downie and Capital winger Aaron Volpatti.
While getting their "scrap on," Downie caught a left hand from Volpatti so flush to his face I'm amazed his nose didn't shatter like a Faberge egg on impact. I've been watching hockey for a long time, and seldom can I recall a punch landing so squarely on someone's face. (Then again, this is probably aided by the high-speed cameras producing crisp super-slow motion replays in this day and age.) The result of the punch was Downie suffering a concussion, which will keep him out of the lineup indefinitely. While he was released from the hospital and is doing well according to a recent update from general manager Paul Holmgren, as per the NHL's protocol put forth pertaining to concussions, he will have to undergo multiple tests before he will be allowed to step back on the ice.
Now the obvious problem with Downie out is who is supposed to help us fix our scoring woes now, which was the primary reason we re-acquired Downie from the Colorado Avalanche for Maxime Talbot. (Downie was originally drafted by the Flyers back in 2005, and his initial stint with the team lasted until he was traded to Tampa Bay in 2008.) Now the smart aleck answer is "everyone", as our scoring as a whole has been dismally suspect, with captain Claude Giroux still having yet to tally a goal this year. While he wasn't exactly burying pucks into the back of the net every night with Colorado, Downie is currently tied for first on the Flyers in scoring points on the year with 7 -- tallying a goal only once, but setting up teammates six times with assists.
So who should they look to attempt to foster similar production in Downie's abscence? Personally, I would peg Tye McGinn as someone the Flyers should and likely will look to in the wake of Downie's absence. McGinn was called up from the Adirondack Phantoms to fill the roster spot vacated by Downie, but one would probably wonder why he was even sent down in the first place. In the 5 games he's made appearances in this season, he's shown a bit of a scoring touch (3 goals on 7 shots) and knack for finding open spaces in the offensive zone. He also plays with the grit and physicality that is always beloved in a depth forward, while so far only having four penalty minutes to his name.
If and when Downie returns, perhaps it might be ideal for the Flyers to waive or send down some other dead weight and see what McGinn can produce for them along with Downie. With head coach Craig Berube's philosophy of putting players with similar styles together, it might not be farfetched to say McGinn and Downie could be on the same gritty, goal producing forward line in the near future.
D.G. Williams lives in the Philadelphia area and is an avid hockey fan. A recreational goaltender when his spare time allows, he has been following the Flyers for the better part of the past 20 years.
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