Andrew MacDonald Out 4 to 6 Weeks
To the delight of some Philadelphia Flyers fans Andrew MacDonald will miss the next four to six weeks due to a lower-body injury. The former Islander most likely suffered the injury blocking a shot against the Edmonton Oilers Saturday on the penalty kill.
Most Philly fans see MacDonald as a liability on the ice, which isn’t much of a stretch, but replacing him will be tough. Coach Dave Hakstol plays the veteran a ton — an average of 19:35 minutes a game this season to be exact — which will have to be replaced by rookies and/or Brandon Manning.
Also, MacDonald has been better this season than he ever was last year. He’s still not a top-pairing blueliner, but he’s cut down on mistakes over the first eight games.
The logical move for the Flyers is to play Manning, who the team has shown confidence in this season and prior. Of course, recalling Sam Morin would be the more popular option, though.
That opens a new can of worms too. General manager Ron Hextall has said rookies won’t be healthy scratched (more on that later) and there’s definitely a chance Morin will sit in favor of Manning.
So far, the Flyers have not made a move to replace MacDonald’s roster spot.
Jori Lehtera In The Lineup
After sitting out the first six games of the season, Lehtera was inserted into the Flyers’ lineup due to an injury to Jordan Weal. He played two games over the past week and even picked up an assist against the Oilers.
But it was easy to see why Lehtera was scratched to begin with. Philadelphia is trying to get faster and the Finnish forward is the opposite of fast. He’s also not a natural winger, but has been forced to the outside with the depth at center.
Despite all that, Hakstol played Lehtera on the second line with Valtteri Filppula and Wayne Simmonds. The line struggled over those two contests, but finished on a high note with the game-winning goal Saturday.
Originally, I thought Lehtera should be playing over Dale Weise, but Weise is even faster and maybe more effective than Lehtera.
Defense Lineup Confusion
After the 8-2 shellacking of the Washington Capitals last Saturday, no one should have been surprised Hakstol kept the lineup, except his goalie, in tact. That meant Manning was playing again over Travis Sanheim Tuesday.
The move continued to work — or at least not hurt — as the Flyers dismantled the Florida Panthers 5-1. But Wednesday, general manager Ron Hextall had some interesting thoughts regarding Sanheim:
“I think it’s not going to continue, he’s not going to sit on the bench and continue here for long-term, things are going to change so that’s something that I said at the start of the year,” Hextall told NBCSN Philly. “I don’t believe in young players sitting, nor having a really small role. … But Travis has played well for us and we’ll see where it goes and we’ll evaluate on a day-to-day basis.”
He went on to say that there are merits to sitting and stepping away from the game to get a different view, but there seems to be a disconnect somewhere between the coach and general manager.
Unsurprisingly, Hextall got his way and Sanheim played Thursday against the Nashville Predators. The Flyers lost, but the rookie was still playing Saturday.
It seems any difference in young player development has been put to bed between Hextall and Hakstol for the time being. However, it’s definitely something to keep an eye on as the season progresses — and especially with MacDonald’s injury.