NHL Playoffs 2012: Can the Flyers Overcome Injuries?
The Philadelphia Flyers are preparing for a deep playoff run starting with cross-state rival Pittsburgh Penguins. While the Flyers are preparing, they need to look at the team’s current injuries and how the team will be affected by missing players.
The injuries are not only going to affect the team during the first round, but the severity of the injuries could have an impact on the team for the entire playoffs. Many playoff series are altered by the injuries that a team has.
A healthy team has the best shot at winning a series. The Flyers are not completely healthy, but they might be healthy enough to win.
The first and most obvious missing link is the team’s captain Chris Pronger.
Pronger has been out for the majority of the season, and the team has not been expecting his return any time soon. Because of the extent of his injuries, the Flyers have planned to play without Pronger.
While the team is ready, they will still be missing one of the top defensemen in the league. Not only is Pronger one of the best at his position, he is a veteran with lots of playoff experience who could have been an important asset to the team’s young players.
The Flyers are also missing another strong defenseman in Andrej Meszaros.
Meszaros has recently had surgery to remove a small disk fragment from his lower back. Because of the surgery Meszaros is going to be out for several more weeks, which rules him out for at least the first round.
Meszaros might not be as big of a force as Pronger, but he will be missed in the playoffs. Meszaros is a fast and physical defenseman who will be hard to replace. The biggest impact the loss of Meszaros will have is the loss of depth on the Flyers' blue line.
James Van Riemsdyk
The Flyers will also be missing forward James van Riemsdyk.
James van Riemsdyk has been out with a broken foot that he received after blocking a shot. It was expected that van Riemsdyk would have been out of his walking boot last week, but setbacks have kept that from happening.
Van Riemsdyk is still several weeks from playing, and his absence hurts the Flyers' scoring depth. In the playoffs, it is important to have multiple scoring threats, so a team is unable to focus on stopping a single source. With van Riemsdyk out, the Flyers will need to continue to get production from other young players.
The most significant injury among Flyers forwards in Danny Briere.
Briere has been out with back spasms since being hit by Pittsburgh’s Joe Vitale. The Flyers have Briere listed as out indefinitely and have no time table for his return.
The loss of Briere for the playoffs is possibly the most significant injury for the entire team. Briere is a playoff veteran who has had several deep playoff runs and could really help the young players adjust to the playoffs.
Along with his experience, Briere has averaged a point per game in the playoffs during his career. Just the loss of Briere’s scoring production will be hard for the Flyers to overcome.