5 Reasons the Philadelphia Flyers Can't Wait for the Return of Scott Hartnell

Michael Pizzutillo@@Mike_PizzutilloCorrespondent IIIFebruary 21, 2013

5 Reasons the Philadelphia Flyers Can't Wait for the Return of Scott Hartnell

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    According to CSN, Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Hartnell could be returning to the ice within five to seven days, and the team is anxiously awaiting his return.

    Hartnell, who suffered a broken foot four weeks ago against the New Jersey Devils, was finally cleared to skate and participate in a full practice with the Adirondack Phantoms. Hartsy admitted to CSN that he was little tired but is pushing through the process to quickly return with the Flyers.

    At the time of his injury, the Flyers were 0-2 and would eventually lose the Devils game to open the season with three straight losses. The team was lost and heading down a deep, downward spiral to the bottom of the league.

    January was a brutal month for Philadelphia, as the Flyers ended 2-5 overall and sorely missed their emotional player. The injury bug was also contagious, as two additional Flyers, Wayne Simmonds (concussion) and Andrej Meszaros (shoulder injury), would miss games. Meszaros has yet to return with the team.

    Fortunately, young players have stepped up their games, specifically forwards Jake Voracek, Matt Read and Brayden Schenn, and the Flyers are riding a two-game winning streak and are now tied for eighth in the playoff hunt heading into a five-game homestand.

    Read, who's been the most consistent Flyer, has potentially been ruled out for Thursday against the Florida Panthers with an upper-body injury, so Philly could use Hartnell's services more than ever moving forward. 

    Here are five additional reasons why the Flyers can't wait for Scott Hartnell's return.

1. His Power-Play Potential

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    I recently wrote an article describing how the Flyers power play has drastically improved from the beginning of the season and should continue to be strong. 

    Scott Hartnell is a key reason for such projected success. Last season, the All-Star forward not only led the team in total goals (37) but also PP goals (16). He's a beast on the man advantage.

    Hartsy has an incredible ability to scrap in front of the net and capitalize on loose pucks in the goal area. He is a tough, physical player, much like Wayne Simmonds, who can create havoc for defenders and goalies.

    The Flyers are currently ranked 11th in the league on the power play and this number should only improve once Hartnell hits the ice.

2. His Physical Approach to the Game

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    Scott Hartnell has never been labeled a coy player on the ice. The athletic goal scorer can also unleash fury upon opposing players.

    Since joining the Flyers in the 2007-2008 season, the Flyers forward has averaged 147 penalty minutes each season and bruised many egos along the way. 

    Philadelphia is currently the most-penalized team in the NHL, which is not a positive stat to be leading, but the Flyers are living up to their "Broad Street Bully" reputation.

    With Hartsy's return, Philly will likely continue to pile up penalties, but his dominating, physical presence could be a game-changing quality down the stretch.

    There's no telling if Hartnell will ever be 100 percent during the short season, but he will give 100 percent every time he wears the orange and black sweater.

3. Presence Will Help Claude Giroux

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    Claude Giroux suffered the most from Hartnell's setback. The Flyers captain has been mired in a massive slump ever since Hartsy went down with his injury. Many were questioning everything from G's maturation process to the curse that has long plagued Philadelphia captains.

    Or he just simply missed his dominant linemate and their connection on the ice.

    With Jaromir Jagr leaving this offseason for the Dallas Stars and then Hartnell's injury, Giroux was pressing to make plays and overcompensate for their absences. 

    Hartnell's return will have an enormous positive effect on G and should only elevate his play this season. As of late, the line pairing of Giroux-Voracek-Read has been filthy, but with Read's status unknown, Hartnell could step back on the first line and pick up from where his stellar prior season left off.

4. He Is a Locker Room Leader

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    There is no denying Hartnell's teammates love him on and off the ice. He is a clown with the media, a prankster with players and the most dependable player on the ice.

    He is everything the Flyers need to continue their hot streak while playing aggressive Philadelphia hockey. A "Broad Street Bully" at heart, Hartnell's play exemplifies the leadership, dedication and passion that are carried through the entire organization.

    He is an extremely vocal player who can walk the walk and is deserving of the "A" on his jersey.

    The Flyers cannot wait to get their All-Star forward suited up and back on the ice as they forge ahead in their playoff surge.

    Hartnell will bring a much-needed jolt of energy and make an immediate impact with his team.

5. The Fans Love Him

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    The fans love him. Period.

    Hartnell possesses everything a Philadelphia sports fan can dream of in a player. He is tough, loud, aggressive and extremely talented.

    Flyers fans have been riding along this roller-coaster season with the team and are due for good news. And what better news than welcoming their star player back to the lineup?

    The Wells Fargo Center thrives off of intense and emotional hockey, and Hartnell should bring both elements to the rink.

    As the Flyers forge ahead with only 30 games remaining, the fans will be hoping Hartsy can return to form and help push their beloved Flyers into the playoffs.