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Robert Hagg scratched for tonight’s game, Brandon Manning returns to lineup

Hakstol says that Hagg, who’s played in two games since returning from injury, is a healthy scratch.

Philadelphia Flyers v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

On the day after Travis Sanheim was most recently called back up to the Flyers, Robert Hagg was announced to be out for two weeks with an injury. He would miss the team’s next four games, before a surprisingly aggressive timeline to return saw him playing again this past Sunday in Washington, just eight days after that initial injury announcement. Hagg would go on to play in both that game against the Capitals and Tuesday’s game against the Red Wings in Detroit.

Apparently Hagg will miss a little more time than that after all, as Dave Hakstol has announced Hagg as a healthy scratch for tonight’s game against the Rangers, with Brandon Manning drawing back into his spot.

This is the first official healthy scratch of Hagg’s NHL career; he had played in all 66 games prior to his injury a couple weeks back. He was on the ice for two Detroit goals in that game on Tuesday, the one that supposedly led to his getting scratched tonight.

There are a couple of different ways to look at this. On the one hand, Hakstol could be somewhat stretching the truth regarding the “healthy” part of Hagg’s healthy scratch. He was, after all, supposed to miss two weeks due to injury, but actually returned after just one. Even though he played in two games since Sunday, it’d be reasonable to guess that he’s not 100 percent healthy.

Perhaps the Flyers want to rest him some more, and/or they didn’t love what they saw from him in his first two games back and figure that a fully-healthy Brandon Manning may be better for them than whatever Hagg is right now, and they don’t want to come out and say “hey, we played him because we thought he was good to go but he actually wasn’t”. If that’s the case, there may not be a ton to read into it, and Hagg will be back whenever the team deems him fully healthy and good to go.

But it’s at least possible that the Flyers haven’t been thrilled with what Hagg’s been up to when he’s been on the ice, even beyond consideration of how his recent injury may have affected him. A quick look at the ice time per game of the team’s defensemen on the year does unmistakably show that Hagg has been getting less responsibility as the season’s gone on.


The big jump in Hagg’s ice time around games 10 to 20 was likely a product of circumstance — that was in late October/early November when Andrew MacDonald, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Radko Gudas were all hurt at various times; when they were all healthy, Hagg was never going to continue getting that much responsibility — but even acknowledging that, Hagg’s slide down the depth chart is hard to miss. Of note here is the shift around game 55, when Manning started to eclipse Hagg in minutes; at that point, Hagg was pretty clearly becoming the team’s sixth defenseman.

And to be clear, his on-ice results have been poor lately: in the seven games he’s played in March, Hagg has been on the ice for a whopping 5.86 goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 — far more than any other Flyers defenseman. Is that entirely his fault? Probably not; while he’s been on the ice, the goalies behind him have stopped only 84.38 percent of the shots they’ve faced, a laughably low number that won’t continue over any meaningfully large sample. But still, within this month he’s among the team “leaders” in a bunch of categories that you don’t want to be leading in:

Robert Hagg, March 2018

Measure (Per 60:00 at 5-on-5) Amount Rank (Among Flyers' Top 7 D)
Measure (Per 60:00 at 5-on-5) Amount Rank (Among Flyers' Top 7 D)
Shots On Goal Against 37.48 1st
Unblocked Shot Attempts Against 51.53 1st
Shot Attempts Against 65 1st
Scoring Chances Allowed 32.21 2nd
High-Danger Scoring Chances Allowed 12.3 3rd

(All statistics in the above table and paragraph via

Of course, the complicating factor here is that Hagg’s on-ice shot and chance prevention measures have been poor for most of this season, and it hasn’t earned him a spot in the press box until today. In fact, since the season began, his lineup status has never seemed even remotely in doubt until this moment. There are only two major differences right now: Hagg was recently hurt, and the pucks are finally going in to the net behind him. Is it one? The other? Or some of both?

We’ll see how long Hagg remains out for, and whether this is a one-time thing or if Hagg will be spending more time off the ice during the stretch run. There’s precedent for young guys getting one-game teaching lessons (see: Shayne Gostisbehere last season) and longer trips away from the ice (see: Travis Sanheim this season), so this could go either way. That said, the Flyers have generally shown a good amount of confidence in the 23-year old Swede this year, so it’d be a jarring shift for them to drop him from the regular lineup at this point of the season. But anything’s possible. It’s the Flyers, after all.