Simon Gagne Responds to Hit by Alexei Kovalev

Chris DiFrancescoAnalyst INovember 17, 2008

The Flyers beat the Atlanta Thrashers 4-3 last night in a whirlwind game.

Yes, Antero Niittymaki added to his career undefeated record against this squad to 11-0, but in all honesty the real story of this game was how Simon Gagne was going to respond after the cheap-shot check to the head from Montreal's Alexei Kovalev.

The answer: very angry.

"We have to do something to stop these hits," Gagne said. "And right now I'm ready to be that guy. I'll talk to the league, to anybody."

Gagne wants answers and he is going to get them himself from the NHL offices who said there will be no action against the hit.

"It's not going to come from the NHL, it's not going to come from teams, it's got to come from the players," Gagne added last night. "If you let those hits happen and players see that on TV, that's going to be a no-brainer and they are going to do it again.

"He hit me pretty hard right to the head, and after what happened last year I was concerned. Until I was going to play [last night] I didn't know what to expect. I was nervous coming here."

So were the rest of the Flyers faithful.

Coach John Stevens revealed he was concerned about the status of his star winger when he arrived this morning from Montreal. "Well, you always get worried when a guy like Simon, who has had a past with head injuries, gets hit like that. He came in like the rest of us around 2:30 in the morning and looked a little groggy, but I'm assuming that it was because he was tired." Stevens said.

Gagne netted his 11th goal of the season 53 seconds into the first period on a beautiful breakaway goal. It appeared he was fine after making that play. He also added two assists to make it a three-point night. Gagne, who is now fourth in the league in points with 22, is on pace to have one of the best seasons of his career.

Coach Stevens reflected back to the beginning of the road trip to now as his team gained seven out of a possible eight points. "It stung a little bit leaving Pittsburgh when we had the lead and we gave up a point and gave them two," Stevens said. "I love the way we responded in Montreal and I love the way we started the hockey game (last night).

"I thought we played a great two periods and probably as bad a way as we could start the third period," Coach John Stevens said. "They got a goal, they were rested and we were tired. That was probably the worst-case scenario for us. Now it's a one-goal game and they are going to hang around."

The Flyers now get four days off before they play the Sabres in Buffalo on Friday night, then come right back to Philadelphia on Saturday to play Phoenix.

With the team surely banged-up, these days off will really let them heal up and get back to working on this hot streak.