Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Hartnell Down" back on tap after 32-day absence

Good news for the Philadelphia Flyers in this season of constant twists and turns.

Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette declared Scott Hartnell ready to return as the club welcomed the Winnipeg Jets to South Broad Street on this rainy Saturday afternoon.

Hartnell had missed the last 16 games after suffering multiple injuries to his left foot, the last and most obvious of which was taking a shot off his skate from teammate Kimmo Timonen on January 22 in a road game
against the New Jersey Devils. He actually beat his own timetable of 7-to-10 days from earlier this week, when he was able to partake in a lengthy practice and test out his mended foot on skates.

It's the best possible shake-up, given that the team had to face the puck drop on Thursday knowing that leading goal-scorer Matt Read would be lost for six weeks after suffering torn rib-cage muscles.

“Hartsy is a big part of it but we haven’t had a practice with him yet, so it will be good to get him back on the ice in a game and get him moving forward,” Laviolette said before the game. "It’s been a long time without him. Certainly we could benefit with him in the lineup. He brings a lot to the table.”

Hartnell was slotted on the top line along with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, the latter of which recorded three assists.

“Well, I wanted to play Thursday night as well, but talking with Homer and Lavy it was probably better to give it a couple more days," Hartnell said after a 5-3 win over the Jets. "I don’t know if the guys needed a boost or a mental boost, but just being in the room it’s the one thing I probably miss the most. Watching the games on TV you don’t get to be a part of it and help the guys and get them lose and focused. I was pretty excited to wake up this morning, have a nice breakfast and get here and play.”

The 30-year-old ended up playing almost 15 minutes, was a minus-one with five shots on goal and played all but six seconds of his ice time at even strength.

A late bit of news surrounding the move, was that defenseman Andrej Meszaros was placed on LTIR to make room for Hartsy's return. Meszaros is expected back soon from his shoulder surgery.

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