Just when the Flyers seem to have reached their pinnacle of offensive output last night, another bit of good news on the scoring front has come their way. Jeff Carter, who led the Flyers with 33 goals during the regular season, is recovering faster than expected from a broken foot he suffered in the Flyers’ first round victory over the New Jersey Devils a little less than a month ago. News of Carter’s return was first reported by Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s John Boruk during the second period of last night’s 6-0 Game One win over the Montreal Canadiens.
While many – such as Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Scott Morrison of Hockey Night in Canada, and hockey guru Darren Dreger of TSN – suspected otherwise, there was Carter this morning, skating about fifteen minutes according to CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio. The skate was simple: a few laps around the rink and some heavy skating to test out the foot, and Carter was off. He skated before the Flyers even took the ice for practice at noon.
Since Carter’s skate this morning, speculation has begun amongst the media as to how available Jeff Carter may be for the Flyers moving forward in this series. Obviously, a broken foot is a serious injury and it takes about four to six weeks to heal depending on the severity. However, if Carter showed the Flyers and their fans anything earlier this season, it’s that he is certainly a quick healer, having broken his foot in late March and somehow made the early return for the Flyers’ regular season finale against the New York Rangers that dramatically ended up vaulting the Flyers into the playoffs. If Carter is to return in this series, and I honestly can’t see how it would be before Game Four (that would mean it would have been about a month), it leaves Peter Laviolette with some line juggling to do. Obviously, you don’t want to not put arguably your best scorer into the line-up, but there is also the danger of messing with the seriously good chemistry the Flyers’ four units have right now.
And, if Carter comes back, who goes out? It can’t be Ville Leino, he’s been playing tremendously well, and seems to gain more confidence with each game. Even Andreas Nodl, who was called up from the Phantoms to replace Carter in the first place, has shown himself to be very reliable as a fourth line checking player in the absence of Ian Laperriere and Peter Laviolette has even had him on the ice to kill penalties last series against Boston. There are tough decisions awaiting Laviolette with Carter’s impending return, but the fact of the matter is, if he’s ready to go, there needs to be a spot in the line-up awaiting him.
The Flyers playoff lives may depend on it.
Check out Tim Pannacio’s story that he posted today on Carter at CSNPhilly.com: FLYERS’ CARTER SKATES FOR FIRST TIME SINCE INJURY