NEW YORK -- After a few tough games in a row, Steve Downie will be watching the Flyers like every other paying customer at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.
Downie, 26, will be a healthy scratch for the first time since being acquired by the Flyers on Oct. 31.
“I think Steve’s intensity level isn’t high enough on a shift to shift basis,” coach Craig Berube said after the team’s morning skate. “I think he’s got to find that intensity. He’s got to be playing on the edge, without being undisciplined.”
Downie has gone without a point in each of his last 8 games since returning from an upper-body injury.
Although many reports speculated Downie had possibly suffered a second concussion in as many months with a hit against Columbus on Dec. 19, a source told the Daily News that Downie had actually suffered an arm injury that kept him out the lineup for two games. It impacted his ability to win battle drills, which was part of the reason he was given two games and the Christmas break to recoup.
That may not be the only injury he's been managing. Downie admitted on Sunday that he’s still dealing with “a couple issues” but wasn’t about to let that serve as an explanation for his drop in play.
“I’m not going to make excuses,” Downie said. “I haven’t been playing my best hockey lately, that’s obvious. I feel all right. I’m OK.”
Reporters pressed Downie and asked if he “felt sluggish," alluding to a possible concussion.
“I don’t feel sluggish,” Downie said. “I feel good, I don’t feel great. It’s not an excuse. I’m not going to use it as one.”
Downie seemed to disagree with Berube’s philosophy that his game is lacking intensity. Downie said he did not speak with the coaching staff about his game, but added that it wasn’t his decision and he wants to play.
“Whether that’s intensity or not, I haven’t been playing well,” Downie said. “I’ve never really had that problem in my career before. You’ve got to come to work every day and win your battles. It comes down to my heart. I’ve got to find my game again.”
Downie began his second stint with the Flyers with 6 points in his first 6 full games - and that was coming off his concussion suffered in a fight against Washington on Nov. 1. He followed that up with another 6 points in his next 12 games. More than offense, Downie’s game has been particularly troubling with regards to turnovers and defensive zone play.
“Everybody turns the puck over,” Berube said. “You’ve got to correct it. We don’t like turnovers. They happen in games. We’ve got to talk about it. He’s got to be more disciplined in doing that. Turnovers kill you.”
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