The Silver-Lining from Thursday's Turd, & Matt Read's Injury

by Michael DeNicola

Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 --

Skating into Thursday night's contest versus the Florida Panthers was almost doomed from the final second of Wednesday's emotional victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Last night kicked off a five-game homestand after the Flyers went 3-3-0 on their longest road-swing of the season. Kimmo Timonen, who's not one to make excuses, spoke to the media in the locker room after suffering a 5 - 2 loss to the Panthers, and told us that we saw a tired Flyers team out there. 

It's understandable, really. And frankly, we sort of expected the Orange & Black to come out a little sluggish against an inept opponent. Usually these types of competitions are known as "trap games" -- in this case, a game played after a theatrical win to a rival, virtually sucking all of the energy and attention away from the Flyers before battling the Florida Panthers.

Despite going down 3 - 0 in the opening frame and failing to score a Flyers goal until midway through the 3rd period, there are still some positives to take away from a loss like this. For starters, we're still 1-point out from 8th Seed in our Conference, and have loads of time left to dig into competitive positioning. 

"Just get into the dance," as they say. The Los Angeles Kings proved that theory not even a year ago. 

Another inspiring tidbit is the continuance of Jakub Voracek's hot streak. The 23-year old winger has tallied 4-goals and 9-points in his last five outings, including one of the Flyers lit lamps from last night's third stanza. Because of the season being an abbreviated one, and condensed at that, each Club will need a player and/or a line to get in the groove of contributing nightly to the scoresheet. Voracek and captain Claude Giroux have hooked up on 6-goals through the last 180-minutes of regulation, and momentum seems to be chugging alongside the two linemates.

It's no mystery why the two are clicking. Throughout last season's schedule, Giroux had Jaromir Jagr opening space in the offensive zone by forcefully carrying the puck over the blue line, using his size and stick-handling to absorb contention long enough for Giroux to position himself effectively. 

Jake Voracek is similar in size as Jagr, and his "keep away" skills also mirror the late #68 in Orange & Black. Unlike Jaromir though, Voracek adds speed to his agility. Both he and Giroux combine to create loads of playmaking potency. With Scott Hartnell being 7 - 10 days out from returning to the active roster, Jake and Claude are setting the tone at just the right time. Hartnell could be plugged on that sovereign assault, and shake the cobwebs outta his ginger fro almost immediately. 

Speaking of perpetuating success, Kimmo Timonen and Luke Schenn remain this team's top tier defensive pairing. The both of them combined are a plus-7 rating this season, and lead the Club in average on-ice time as a d-pair (Timonen 21:22, L. Schenn 19:59). Though most of their shifts begin in the Flyers end, their heavy-lifting minutes contribute offensively with just the right mixture of smart decision making, physical play and surgical passing throughout our zone. 

Luke put the Flyers on the board in the 3rd period in last night's game, his second goal of the season, after Danny Briere set him up at the top of the slot --

So, it's one loss on the board that the Flyers need to forget and put behind them. Starting Ilya Bryzgalov against the Panthers wasn't the wisest decision, in my humble opinion. I'm no expert, but Bryz never looked comfortable from the get-go in last night's tilt. 

After allowing the fourth goal against his guard, our franchise netminder was pulled in the 2nd period and replaced with backstop Brian Boucher. 

Ilya's save-percentage has taken quite a raping from these past two contests. Behind him, the lamp's been lit a total of nine times  since 7:30, Wednesday night --

He's now sporting a .900 SV%, and his goals-against average fattened to a bleak 2.76, the highest it's been all season. Still, you can't forget that Bryzgalov's started off this season in terrific fashion, and any wins we've tallied thus far could widely go credited to his performance between the pipes.

I wouldn't let this get you down. Not the loss, anyway. We have more important things to worry about.... the loss of our leading scorer, Matt Read, who exited Wednesday night's game in the 1st period after suffering a check along the boards delivered by Chris Kunitz. 

Some of us were expecting to hear an update on his status a little earlier, but right before last night's contest opened up, Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren broke the awful, awful news --

Just when you thought the hockey gods couldn't flatten our balls anymore under their boots, Matt Read has been diagnosed with torn muscles in his ribcage. 

His fucking ribcage....

The ribcage consists of 24 curved ribs that arrange in 12 pairs. Each of these pairs stem back and attach themselves to the vertebrae of our spine. This array of curved bones is kept together and supported by ligaments and muscles that sew themselves together in between the ribs. Their purpose is to not only keep the bones together, but to also expand and contract depending on a person's breathing and movement. 

Blunt force is one of the most common causes of rib injuries, and that's exactly what Read suffered. Kunitz's hit more than likely caused Matt Read's intercostal muscles to stretch suddenly, and then tear.*These muscles can be strained by any activity that involves extreme or forceful twisting of the body or swinging of the arms [*BetterHealth]. 

Since the ribcage protects your body's most vital organs (minus the brain, of course), this can be considered a very serious injury, not to mention extremely painful....

Matt Read is more than likely experiencing the following symptoms (try not to vomit thinking about this):

  1. Pain at the injury site. Well, duh....
  2. Pain when the ribcage flexes – with movement, with a deep breath or when you cough, sneeze or laugh. He better stay away from pollen and Bill Murray flicks.
  3. Crunching or grinding sounds (crepitus) when the injury site is touched or moved. "CRUNCHING"?!?!?! Seriously, you'd have to put me in a 6-week induced coma. If I felt my ribs crunching and grinding -- or any bones, for that matter -- I'd beg for a cyanide pill. 
  4. Muscle spasms of the ribcage. Oh, good! So when the crunching and grinding of your bones is trying to be avoided at all times, your own body makes you involuntarily spasm at the site of the injury. Thanks, brain! dick.
  5. Deformed appearance of the ribcage. So, suddenly Matt Read could look like Marshall Bell in that scene from Total Recall when he had Kuato sticking outta his stomach.....
  6. Breathing difficulties. I guess with all the crunching, grinding, inability to cough, sneeze or laugh, having difficulty breathing seems to be the least of the issue. 

Like I had mentioned before, it's great to hear Scott Hartnell is on the verge of returning to the lineup. Not only because Giroux and Voracek are firing on all cylinders, but because they lost their line's right-handed sniper. I'm not saying Hartnell's a sniper by any means, and he's certainly not right-handed, but Jake and Claude could use some size and veteran presence in the crease to steal even more attention off themselves. 

Tye McGinn's filled in as Giroux's left-wing pretty well, but there's no arguing Hartnell will give that line, and this team, a big boost offensively. 

I guess the question now is..... With Read sidelined until (perhaps) the beginning of April, are the Flyers put in a position where they have to make a move via trade?

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