PHILADELPHIA – When Scott Hartnell came back from a fractured foot last season, he decided to wear skate guards to protect his feet for the remainder of the season.
But, old habits die hard, and Hartnell started this season without the guards – a plastic outer shell that surrounds the soft part of a skate boot – once again tempting fate.
Considering what happened in Buffalo Tuesday, he's got to wonder if he's got a little rabbit DNA, because the status of his left foot can only be described as lucky.
Hartnell was again hit on the foot while blocking a shot and was immediately in pain as it caught him just below his left ankle.
He left the ice, not to get checked out, but finally to swallow his macho pride.
“I put [skate guards] on after I blocked the shot last game… how convenient,” Hartnell said. “I think they will stick this time.”
“Probably, yeah,” he said, before realizing that he would be matching up against Nashville’s Shea Weber tonight. Weber has one of, if not the hardest shots in the NHL. “I’ll definitely be wearing them tonight since I’m a left winger and he’s a right point shot and I’ll be in the lane a couple times on him.”
Hartnell had his foot looked at twice – both after the game in Buffalo and again yesterday back home. The Flyers listed him as day-to-day, but after taking the morning practice it appears he’s good enough to go.
“I felt good on the ice - better than I thought it would,” Hartnell said. “Any time you block a shot it’s going to be sore, but I was a little bit more worried about this one, but I’m ready to go. It feels better in my skate than in my shoe.”
And that’s a good thing for the Flyers, who have been getting strong production out of Hartnell as well as linemates Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds since the trio was put together by coach Craig Berube five weeks ago.
“We weren’t sure yesterday, but the injury could have been a lot worse,” Berube said. “You don’t want to lose anybody for that length of time. That line’s been good so it’s good that he’s ready to go.”
Now that he’s been dinged in his feet a few times and he’s dodged another fracture that would keep him out a longer term, Hartnell has finally seen the error in his ways when it comes to protecting his feet.
“Skates have changed a lot,” Hartnell said. “They’re lighter and softer. Some guys go through pairs every few games because they break down so fast. Guys shoot a lot harder too and when you have softer skates it’s going to lead to more foot injuries. [Wearing skate guards] is a lot like wearing a visor. It’s stupid not to wear a visor with sticks going everywhere and pucks being deflected. I bet in a few years you’ll see a lot more guys wearing [skate guards].”
NOTES: Although Berube called Steve Downie a game-time decision, it looks like he’ll be back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for two games. Berube reiterated that Downie had gotten away from what makes him an effective player. “To me it was intensity in the game,” Berube said. I talked to him about it. His fight on the puck and his style of play wasn’t there. He says he’s fine so everything’s good. It’s just mental. He needs to play an intense game He needs to be an in-your-face player but play disciplined at the same time.” If he plays, he’ll likely get fourth line right wing duty with Adam Hall and Chris Vandevelde… Steve Mason gets the start in goal. He is 16-4-3 in his last 21 starts… The Flyers have had the second best record (20-9-3, 43 points) in the Eastern Conference in the past nine weeks behind only Pittsburgh (23-7-2, 48 points). Only three teams out West have been better as well: Anaheim (23-5-4, 49 points), St. Louis (22-6-3, 47 points) and Chicago (20-6-7, 47 points).
To contact Anthony SanFilippo email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers