It's been a weird past 24 hours and change for the Flyers. If you haven't been following along and/or have been a little confused, let's quickly recap.
On Monday, a little after 6 p.m. ET, the Flyers -- a number of hours removed from their Monday morning practice, and two days clear of their most recent game -- sent out the following tweet.
Claude Giroux is unable to attend tonight's Season Ticket Holder event. He is being evaluated by team doctors.— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) November 17, 2014
Oh. Well, y'know, nothing to liven everyone's Monday up quite like a cryptic tweet mentioning a possible problem with your best player out of nowhere and without giving any further details, am I right?
Pretty much everyone was stumped, given that Giroux was reportedly fine following both Saturday's game and Monday's practice, and none of the beat writers seemed to have much of a clue what was going on either.
Fortunately (well, maybe not quite as much so in hindsight), a couple of hours later, we received this news:
Claude Giroux was evaluated by team doctors tonight and he is fine, according to #Flyers GM Ron Hextall.— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) November 18, 2014
Thanks for getting us all excited, guys. Nothing to see here ...
No Giroux yet ...— Tim Panaccio (@tpanotchCSN) November 18, 2014
... until this morning, when Giroux was nowhere to be found at practice. Cool stuff, Flyers. Hey, Craig Berube, do you know where your captain is?
Berube on G situation: "I'm in the dark." #Flyers— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) November 18, 2014
Word. Well, earlier this afternoon, Ron Hextall finally announced that Giroux has a "lower-body injury" and will miss a couple of games, or at least Wednesday night's game against the Rangers.
Per #Flyers GM Ron Hextall, Claude Giroux suffered a lower-body injury yesterday during practice and will not play tomorrow.— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) November 18, 2014
Hextall, per the team, also said that Giroux will "most likely" miss Thursday's game at home vs. Minnesota. He said that Giroux suffered the injury in practice on Monday, went to the team doctors and things looked good, and then came in this morning and felt off again, prompting the team to shut him down for a couple of days.
Let's get a couple of quick things out of the way:
- As you assuredly know, Claude Giroux is an incredible hockey player and this already-mediocre team would be thoroughly screwed if it was without him for any remotely extended period of time. The fact that this injury came out of absolutely nowhere does nothing to quell fears of the possible implications here. However...
- Hextall has said he expects this injury to be a matter "of days as opposed to weeks", per the team. The team plays Wednesday night in New York City, Thursday night at home, Saturday night at home, and then Monday night on Long Island. So depending on the schedule, if Hextall's telling the truth here and we guess that the injury takes Claude out no longer than one week, Giroux could realistically miss anywhere between one and four games. Let's pray that it's not longer than that.
- Nothing was revealed about the specifics of the injury other than the ever-so-specific "lower-body" descriptor; however, CSN Philly's Tim Panaccio did say that Giroux was seen in "crutches and a walking boot". So, once you're done breathing into a paper bag for a while, draw your own conclusions.
So while that news was announced and we were left pondering the (rather scary) lines from Tuesday's practice that had R.J. Umberger skating on the top line with Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek, the Flyers dropped this on us:
Laughton, of course, is the team's 2012 first-round pick and its top forward prospect. He's played in five NHL games, all at the beginning of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, in which he got fourth-line minutes and scored no points. He was sent back to juniors after that, then again shortly after the 2013-14 season began, and he was sent to Lehigh Valley this past fall towards the end of training camp.
Alright, so let's re-take inventory here.
- First and foremost: if we learned one thing from Shayne Gostisbehere's emergency call-up -- and, more importantly, Ron Hextall's reactions to it -- it's that Hextall was serious when he meant that he wanted his prospects to take their time in the AHL and get some seasoning at the professional level. Hextall repeatedly said that he was unhappy that injuries forced him to call Gostisbehere up, and he sent Ghost back down as soon as he had the chance. While the fact that Blair Jones (an adequate fourth-line center, albeit not much more) was sent down in tandem with Laughton's promotion makes one wonder a bit, chances are that Scott Laughton is not going to be at the NHL level for an extended period of time.
- However, whether or not Laughton is 100 percent NHL-ready right now, Hextall calling him up makes it clear that he believes that Laughton's got a better chance at making a difference for the Flyers at the NHL level than any of their other readily available options. And that's almost certainly correct. He's had a strong start to his first AHL season, with six goals and five assists in 13 games. With the team's lower forward lines being the issue they have been of late, Laughton instantly improves this team's forward groups over the alternatives (say, Blair Jones).
- It's unclear, as of now, where exactly Laughton will fit in the lineup. While the team practiced on Monday with an Umberger - Schenn - Voracek top line, they (a) have to know that Umberger has simply not played well enough to deserve a spot on that line, and (b) have kept Schenn in the left-wing spot all season long so far. So Laughton could just slide right in between Schenn and Voracek. Alternatively, if they wanted to ease him in, he could play in the bottom-six, possibly jumping right into Blair Jones' spot from practice, in between Chris VandeVelde and Jason Akeson. Or they could just completely change up the lines from Tuesday and do something else. Who knows.
Chances are, we'll find out more about how this effects the forward lines before tomorrow's game in New York City. Oh, also, Luke Schenn and Andrew MacDonald won't be back tomorrow. Guess maybe we buried the lede a little bit on that one.
Never a dull moment here, right?