The injuries for the Philadelphia Flyers have gone from bad to worse.
Just last week, the team revealed that Chris Pronger will be out indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms. Now, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has revealed that superstar forward Claude Giroux has not been feeling well over the last few days and has been diagnosed with a concussion. As a result, he will also be out of action indefinitely.
So to address the question in the title, should the team panic over the loss of their two most valuable players?
The easy answer would be yes. Most teams would be in big trouble after losing their best forward and their best defenseman for an undetermined amount of time.
However, the Flyers are a team with plenty of depth, especially with their forward group. Combine that with the fact that these injuries have thankfully occurred earlier rather than later in the season, and Philly should still be at least in the hunt for a playoff spot by the time both Giroux and Pronger return to the lineup.
It’s understandable for the fans to panic in an unfortunate situation like this, but the organization can’t afford to. As a team, when you panic you’ve already admitted defeat. It sends the message that you don’t think you’re good enough to win without your best players, and if you’re not sure if you’re good enough, then you’re probably not.
The only thing that would be worse is if Paul Holmgren panicked and made a short-sighted trade. The Flyers don’t need to mortgage their future in order to pick up a rental player while Giroux and Pronger are out action.
As I stated, as tough as these injuries are to swallow, the Flyers and their fans should be thankful they’ve occurred in December instead of March or April. Of course, if Giroux is out for as long as fellow superstar center Sidney Crosby was then it won’t matter as he’ll miss the playoffs anyway, but that’s unlikely.
The Flyers should view this as a challenge and their other young forwards like James van Riemsdyk and Sean Couturier will need to step up.
Couturier, in particular, will have an increased role with Giroux out of action, as he will fill in on the top line.
Another person who will finally be forced to earn his big contract is goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Conventional thinking would tell you that the Flyers won’t be scoring quite as many goals with Giroux out of the lineup and they’ll also likely give up a few more scoring chances without Pronger holding down the back end.
Finally, head coach Peter Laviolette will need to look no further than the Flyers in-state rivals from Pittsburgh for his inspiration.
Last season, without Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Pittsburgh Penguins remained near the top of the Eastern Conference standings for the entire second half of the season. If the Pens can do it, then Laviolette can surely convince his Flyers team that they can do it as well.
So while the fans in Philly may be a bit nervous with the Flyers two best players out of action with no timetable for their return, the team itself should remain calm and embrace the challenge that has presented itself.