There was a palpable buzz at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday morning.
It wasn’t just the usual, opening night buzz - but that was heightened by the fact that Peter Laviolette named goaltender Steve Mason his opening night starter. Most were banking on Ray Emery making his first start for the Flyers in almost four years.
What should not be as much of a surprise is that Laviolette is bulking up his lineup against Toronto.
And it isn’t any sort of response to the Maple Leafs’ 4-3 rock ‘em, sock’ em win in Montreal last night. In fact, Laviolette notified tough guy Jay Rosehill and gritty forward Adam Hall that they would be in the lineup before Guy Lafleur passed the torch to Danny Briere in Montreal to kick off the season.
Rookie Scott Laughton is the odd-man out.
Last year, Toronto led the NHL with 44 fighting majors. Columbus was second with 34.
The Leafs are off to a good start this year, too, with 5 fights against the Canadiens on Tuesday - including one which gave the league’s opening night a black eye.
In his 211th career professional fight, Princeton Univ. grad George Parros got tangled up with Colton Orr and couldn’t break his fall as his face smashed into the hard ice surface.
With his wife in the stands, Parros, 33, was carted off the Bell Centre ice and taken to the hospital. Laying there with blood dripping from his face, Parros couldn’t move. He tried to stand up with the help of teammates and trainers but quickly fell back to the ice.
Fortunately, Parros was alert and talking when he left the Bell Centre in the ambulance.
Against the Maple Leafs tonight, the Flyers don’t want to be caught without any sandpaper in the lineup.
Enter Rosehill, who used to play for the Leafs, with 22 NHL bouts on his card. He signed a two-year, $1.35 million deal with the Flyers last season to be their enforcer du jour.
“Guys in my position that do the same job always feel for a guy like that,” Rosehill said. “There’s not much you can do to avoid it, it wasn’t anyone’s fault or anything. Thankfully it doesn’t happen all that often.”
Rosehill, 28, recognized that Parros’ injury has reignited the entire movement to take fighting out of hockey.
“It’s tough to do and there are dangers that go along with it,” Rosehill said. “We all know that. If it were easy, I think a lot more people would be doing it. Hopefully he will be fine and we can just move on from it.”
For the Flyers, having the 19-year-old Laughton sit out also ignites a debate about whether he should be sent back to junior hockey. The Leafs also kept 19-year-old Morgan Rielly out of their lineup on Tuesday.
Laughton played five games with the Flyers last season before being sent back, including the opening night lineup against Pittsburgh. He can play a maximum of nine games before burning a year on his contract.
Regardless of how the opener plays out, both Laughton and Emery could be in the lineup a soon as this weekend, with back-to-backs in Montreal and Carolina. It’s unlikely for Rosehill to be needed in all 82 games - and we know Emery will get his fair share.
Hartnell - Giroux - Voracek
Simmonds - Lecavalier - B. Schenn
Talbot - Couturier - Read
Rosehil - Hall - Rinaldo
Streit - L. Schenn
Coburn - Timonen
Grossmann - Meszaros
Scratched: Laughton, Gill, Gustafsson.
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