Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Waiting for the shoe to drop

The NHL's holiday roster freeze on Saturday presents an interesting dilemma for Flyers management. Do they wait until after the freeze ends on Dec. 27 to make a move or pull the trigger now and hope for change?

Waiting for the shoe to drop

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

That noise?

Oh, that’s the ticking time bomb inside the Flyers’ locker room.

You may not need to wait much longer for the shoe to drop with this Flyers team; they could be within hours of a major implosion.

The NHL holiday roster freeze goes into effect on Saturday at 12-midnight and doesn’t lift until Dec. 27, which would leave the Flyers’ hands tied during an entire five-game stretch. During the freeze, teams are restricted from trading or making any types of call-ups, demotions or moves on the waiver wire so players can rest easy during the holiday season.

They have won just three times in their last 14 games and have dropped into a tie for 14th place in the Eastern Conference.

At the Flyers’ optional practice on Wednesday – less than 12 hours after returning from a 6-1 drubbing in Pittsburgh – Scott Hartnell must’ve felt the pressure. Hartnell was one of the only non-injured Flyers that skated, with the exception of new goaltender Michael Leighton and Riley Cote.

“Call it what you want,” Hartnell told the Daily News. “You have to pay the price. Sooner or later, heads are going to roll.”

He joined Simon Gagne, Blair Betts, Darroll Powe, Cote and Leighton to “wheel around” on the ice.

Like his team, Hartnell has had a particularly rough stretch of games: his three penalties on Monday nearly cost the Flyers a big win and a late turnover (combined with uninspiring play) resulted in Pittsburgh’s fourth goal last night. That’s why his name has been circulating through the rumor mill.

With a salary that pays him $4.2 million, Hartnell could be hard to move.

Another name that has been mentioned is Jeff Carter, who is scoreless in his last four games. Though his play has been lifeless of late, the Flyers could be reluctant to move a 46-goal scorer from last season.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said on Wednesday that he doesn’t think a trade is warranted, yet. He said that he has had general manager Paul Holmgren’s full attention over the last few days and after lengthy chats about his new team, Laviolette has left “nothing bottled up.”

Still, Laviolette isn’t the one that pulls the trigger.

Holmgren may have his finger on it. Or he may give Laviolette a chance to turn things around from within the four walls of the Flyers’ morbid locker room.

It’s just that five more games may put this team in a spot where it could be hard to challenge for the playoffs – let alone a high seed.

Nodl, Backlund reassigned
The Flyers sent forward Andreas Nodl and goaltender Johan Backlund packing for Adirondack yesterday, fresh off a three-game road trip.

Nodl has one assist in 10 games this season. He could very well be out of chances with the Flyers, who harped on his lack of scoring touch this summer.

Leighton, acquired from re-entry waivers on Tuesday, will dress in Thursday’s game in the place of Backlund. Backlund did not see a single minute of action – starter Brian Boucher has started the last six games.

Blair Betts is expected to take Nodl’s spot in Thursday’s rematch with Pittsburgh. He has been out since Nov. 21 when he dislocated his right shoulder for the sixth time in his career. The Flyers are 10-3 with Betts in the lineup this season.

Gagne met with a doctor on Wednesday and is waiting news on his status while Powe (shoulder) may be able to play as soon as this weekend.

Read more in Thursday’s Daily News.

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.

About this blog
Frequent Flyers is your home for news and analysis of all things orange and black. Reach Frank at seravaf@phillynews.com.

Frank Seravalli Daily News Sports Columnist
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