The Philadelphia Flyers lost again this afternoon, falling 7-4 on the road to the New York Islanders.
Based on the box score, the line of Sean Couturier between wingers Matt Read and R.J. Umberger had a particularly tough outing. Couturier and Read each finished minus-5; Umberger was minus-4.
Now, granted, plus-minus is an extremely flawed stat; however, when a trio is that deep in the red, it’s going to be a topic of conversation. (And that it was on Twitter.) The line also had poor Corsi numbers, and in the non-statistical department, left coach Craig Berube questioning their effort level.
There’s an argument to be made that Umberger, 32, has dragged Couturier, 22, and Read, 28, down. Last season, Couturier played mostly with Read, but also spent a good deal of time with Steve Downie, now with Pittsburgh.
Both Couturier and Read had better possession numbers last season.
Anyway, feel free to chime in, Flyers fans. Do Couturier and Read need to be freed from Umberger, or do they just need to play better?
Blue Jackets get Hartnell back, but lose Bobrovsky (illness)
The Columbus Blue Jackets can’t seem to catch a break this season. They will get back Scott Hartnell tonight after a roughly two week absence due to a broken finger, but now number one goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is out of the lineup, per the team’s Twitter account.
Bobrovsky is dealing with an illness, or more specifically a “stomach issue,” which is a noteworthy detail in the midst of the NHL’s mumps outbreak. Netminder Anton Forsberg, 22, has been called up to serve as Curtis McElhinney’s understudy tonight.
Hartnell will play alongside Ryan Johansen and Jeremy Morin in his return. He’s replacing Nick Foligno, who was knocked down to the third line.
Columbus has been battered by injuries and fell behind early this season as a result. However, the Blue Jackets went on a 9-0-1 run before finally losing in regulation to Nashville on Monday. Even after that hot streak, they’re still nine points shy of a playoff spot, so it’s important that they avoid falling further behind when they take on the Boston Bruins at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Hartnell’s been streaky in his first season with Columbus. His 17 points have come unevenly as he’s suffered through a 10-game pointless streak. He currently has a goal and two assists in his last four appearances, with Dec. 11 representing his last game played.
Even if the offense comes and goes, the banged-up Blue Jackets would love to have Hartnell back soon. Depending upon how his rehab continues, he could indeed return in a mere week.
Apparently the “hockey gods” finally made their rounds back to the Columbus Blue Jackets, as they announced that forward Brian Gibbons was placed on IR on Friday. The Blue Jackets recalled Alexander Wennberg and Cody Goloubef as well today.
The Blue Jackets estimate that Gibbons, 26, will need about two-to-three weeks to recover from a knee injury that he suffered against the Washington Capitals last night.
Depending upon healing speed, the Blue Jackets could be quite a bit stronger at the end of Gibbons’ recovery window; the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports that Scott Hartnell could also be back from his finger injury in a couple weeks.
The bright side is that there might be some benefit to getting another look at Wennberg, 20.
Both Gibbons and Wennberg have played 21 games apiece so far in 2014-15, and while Gibbons has two more assists (five versus three) in that frame, the Blue Jackets obviously must expect bigger things from Wennberg long-term.
(He was the 14th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, after all.)
As much as this injury narrative has dominated the Blue Jackets’ headlines this season, the team recently went on a seven-game winning streak and has recorded at least one standings point (7-0-1) in December. Their next game is against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.