The Philadelphia Flyers can claim their style of play isn’t a throwback to the Broad Street Bullies days, but the number of suspensions handed down to them by the NHL this season may indicate otherwise.
With Scott Hartnell the latest to be the suspended, the Flyers (13-8-2) will try to move into sole possession of the Atlantic Division lead when they meet the Southeast-leading Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night at the RBC Center.
Hartnell was suspended two games by the league on Tuesday for checking Boston defenseman Andrew Alberts in the head during the second period of the Flyers’ 6-3 loss to the Bruins on Monday night. He was given a boarding major and ejected.
Hartnell, who had a goal and an assist Nov. 21 when the Flyers won 6-3 at Carolina, said he wasn’t trying to injure Alberts.
“If you look at the video and the time of the game, I wasn’t trying to hurt the guy,” Hartnell told the Flyers’ official Web site. “I pulled up and did just try to rub into the guy, but his head was right on that dasher board there.
“It was unfortunate. It was a split decision to make a play, and unfortunately he was down.”
In the preseason, Downie got a 20-game ban after a high hit to the head of Ottawa’s Dean McAmmond. Boulerice was dealt the longest single-season punishment in league history - 25 games - for hitting Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler across the face with his stick.
Jones received a two-game suspension after he sent Boston’s Patrice Bergeron face-first into the boards on Oct. 27. Bergeron hasn’t returned to action since he broke his nose and sustained a concussion as a result of the hit.
Despite the suspensions, the Flyers are tied with the New York Rangers atop the Atlantic with 28 points. Mike Richards has been a key for Philadelphia with goals in three straight games to continue a breakout season. Richards has a career-high 14 goals in 23 games, after tallying just 10 in 59 games in 2006-07.
Carolina (13-8-3) has dropped both matchups against the Flyers this season. Eric Staal, the Hurricanes’ leading goal scorer with 14, has played well versus Philadelphia, with two goals and two assists during a four-game point streak.
Though they hold a six-point lead in the Southeast, the Hurricanes have struggled to find consistency recently as they’ve alternated losses and wins in their last five games. On Saturday, Erik Cole and Ray Whitney scored in a 5-2 loss to Washington.
Carolina, which leads the league with 80 goals scored, may get a boost with the return of right wing Scott Walker, who was activated from the injured list on Tuesday after missing 17 games with a torso injury. Walker had 21 goals - including a career-best six game-winners - in 2006-07.
Now in his 14th season, Walker had a goal and two assists in seven games before suffering the injury.