Jason Akeson on the back page of tomorrow's Philadelphia Daily News: pic.twitter.com/BBDaKDZgWG
— Frank Seravalli (@DNFlyers) April 18, 2014
If the Philadelphia Flyers eventually lose their first-round playoff series with the New York Rangers as they did Game 1, Jason Akeson’s four-minute high-sticking penalty will live in infamy as one of the turning points.
Should the orange and black go on to win, the penalty and resulting outcome will be as good as forgotten. Or, should Akeson ever develop into a productive NHL player, the transgression might turn out to be nothing more than a footnote in his career. Maybe.
If the Flyers are knocked out—especially in six or seven—the name Akeson will forever become a part of Philly sports lore. Only his having a hand in winning a future Stanley Cup here could erase that.
Otherwise, people will always wonder how a player who had not dressed until the final day of the regular season, who had only two career NHL games under his belt, found himself on the ice in the third period of a tie game during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They’ll ask how Akeson could make such a stupid, careless mistake, never mind he just lost his balance and the high stick was clearly an accident.
The passage of time will undoubtedly forget Akeson was actually the best, most active forward on the ice that night.
Revisionist history won’t recall the ineffectiveness of Claude Giroux and the captain’s top line. Akeson along with Michael Raffl paced the stagnant Philly offense with three shots each, each more than the entire G line combined.
Akeson’s blunder will be talked about as if killing off at least half the power play wasn’t an option. One day, it will seem almost as if the Flyers didn’t go the first seven minutes without a shot on goal, or the entire third period with only one, or 15 total for the whole game.
Jason Akeson will just be that dude who clumsily whacked Carl Hagelin in the face while falling down. And it just happened to draw blood, an arbitrary rule that causes a double minor. And the Rangers scored on both ends of it to seal the Flyers’ fate.
Yeah, the kid messed up. He got overly aggressive and used poor technique, a combination that directly led to the mistake, a penalty in a spot Philadelphia could ill-afford one. Akeson doesn’t get left off the hook for showing poor judgment.
The stick wasn’t the reason the Flyers lost though. Nor was Ray Emery starting in goal in place of Steve Mason, out with an upper-body injury.
New York plain dominated the game from start to finish. Akeson just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The perfect scapegoat.
It will be interesting to see whether head coach Craig Berube has the fortitude to go with the 23-year-old in Game 2, or again at all this postseason.
It wasn’t like he was the only player wearing orange and black who appeared to have his skates laced up tight or anything. Jason Akeson was just the rookie who made the dumb rookie mistake that predictably brought down the entire house of cards, the one that was leaning already.