Last night I was personally handed my crow to eat after Scott Hartnell produced two goals and an assist on Toronto's netminder Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson. Simultaneously, those who doubted Jaromir Jagr had a large foot to swallow of their own after the 39-year Czech potted his first and second goal of the season, while assisting on one of Hartnell's lit lamps.
I guess you could say Jagr's got Hart? (Sad Trombone)
All joking aside, the two struggling forwards were the only Flyers players whose sticks contributed to the final score of 4 - 2. Sergei Bobrovsky got the nod and stopped 22 of 24 Maple pucks. Our very own ginger, Claude Giroux assisted on Jagr's first goal which was a breakaway fed by Giroux's unbelievable thirty foot pass through neutral ice.
The waiting Jagr took the puck on the end of his stick, split a couple of Toronto defenders and then deked The Monster out of his pads. Of course it was capped off with the official first Jagr Salute of the Flyers season.
However, one man's (or should I say, two men's) great game may be another's nightmare.
And no, I am not referencing any one Leafs player. I'm singling Chris Pronger out who caught a 1st period stick blade to the face and eye, which made the 6'6" captain crumple to the ice in pain....
What's very unsettling is Pronger's screaming. Our captain's cry in physical suffering crashed through our home attendance like ripples on a pond. It quelled the crowd and sent many to the cell phones awaiting a report -- ANY report -- on our star defenseman.
Judging from many spectators' reactions, it was the man's physical well-being we were most concerned with.
Philadelphia is no stranger to our boys in Orange & Black taking an unpremeditated trip back to the locker room with a serious injury occurring in or around the eye....
It's extremely unfortunate. In the case of Mikhail Grabovski's stick hitting Pronger in the face, it was deemed a legal, unfortunate accident. Naturally, from Chris' gut wrenching reaction, the Flyers fans wanted a four minute minor for high sticking (Keep in mind the additional two minutes added for making Pronger bleed).
When nothing was called....the crowd went insane. Boo-birds hailed from the mezzanine and lower bowl like waffles.
But, ladies & gents, it was indeed the right call. Or should I say no-call? Whichever.
If I may refer your attention to the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement, Rule 60.1 on high sticking:
High-sticking - A “high stick” is one which is carried above the height of the opponent’s shoulders. Players and goalkeepers must be in control and responsible for their stick. However, a player is permitted accidental contact on an opponent if the act is committed as a normal windup or follow through of a shooting motion. A wild swing at a bouncing puck would not be considered a normal windup or follow through and any contact to an opponent above the height of the shoulders shall be penalized accordingly.
"However, a player is permitted accidental contact on an opponent if the act is committed as a normal windup or follow through of a shooting motion," and there's the key sentence from the ruling.
What happened was displeasing, of course, but it's hockey. This is the type of thing that happens. There's thousands of elements happening at once in such a confined area.
The good news is Pronger never lost his eyeball. Lucky for him, lucky for his family, and lucky for Flyers fans. We feared the worst.
However, Pronger has been put on three days bed rest so the swelling on his orbital bone can go down. He's expected to miss 3 - 4 weeks, per Flyers GM Paul Holmgren.
It's a long sigh of relief. When the accident happened I was legitimately worried that I just witnessed a full grown man skate screaming into a locker room clutching his actual eyeball in the palm of his hand.
Could a visor have prevented this? Should the NHL mandate that all NHL players, rookies to vets, begin wearing protective visors on their helmets?
The Orange And Black Pack's very own Sir Joseph Bogle has his opinion on the matter, and plans to share it in article form tomorrow. So stay tuned, fans.
Good day. Good hockey.