Hartnell understands why he was benched in Tampa

Hartnell understands why he was benched in Tampa

March 21, 2013, 3:00 pm
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They had two full days to conduct their own personal introspection and figure out where they go from here.
 
Starting Sunday, the Flyers have five games in eight days, beginning with a trip to Pittsburgh. Given they’re already five points out of a playoff berth, that might all that’s left of their chances if they can’t string some wins together.
 
For Scott Hartnell, the two days off meant a chance to think about being benched and then removed from Claude Giroux’s top line with Jakub Voracek.
 
“I knew I had not been playing that great,” Hartnell said after a lengthy double-session practice at Skate Zone. “To be on the top line, you have to be able to keep up with them. I can’t be the one to slow them down. I was doing both of those things. Obviously, I have to play better. Get back to doing simple things.”
 
He’s still not on the top line.
 
Coach Peter Laviolette broke up all four lines – then tried to advise not to read anything into that - but Hartnell is now playing with Ruslan Fedotenko and Zac Rinaldo.
 
Since his benching, Hartnell and Laviolette met to discuss what’s going on and what’s expected.
 
“We had a good talk,” Hartnell said. “Kinda about my start, I guess you could say. You play for eight months, you come back for three games. Starting to feel better and then you sit on the couch for four weeks watching the guys play and struggle.”
 
Hartnell missed 16 games with a fracture in his left foot.
 
“A couple good games, and this and that,” he said. “I don’t know how many games I have been back since cleared to play (it's 11), but I’m still not where I want to be and it’s frustrating. Couple bad penalties here and there. A message has been sent so it’s how I react to that a go forward from today.”
 
When he returned, Hartnell gave the Flyers instant jump with three points in three games, two of which the Flyers won.
 
Since then, he’s fallen off the board with just a goal and two assists.
 
More significantly, however, in the 11 games since coming back, he has 32 penalty minutes. He picked up 12 alone in the third period against the Rangers in New York and four in the third period at New Jersey last week.
 
His unnecessary roughing call Monday night in Tampa is what got him benched. It’s not the first time Laviolette has used him as an example to the team.
 
Laviolette seems to use Hartnell more than others.
 
“I wouldn’t say 'whipping boy,' but it’s definitely, there’s been in the past, especially with Lavy, a message sent to me,” Hartnell admitted. “I don’t mind. I think I needed it, to be honest. Sit on the bench and watch the guys play. I had a couple shifts. Some of my best shifts in a half dozen games in the third period. It’s about how you respond to [adversity].”
 
Right now, every Flyer is being re-evaluated because with only a 6 percent chance to make the playoffs, management has to think long-term, certainly beyond April.
 
“I think so,” Hartnell said when asked about re-evaluation. “I’ve been on some non-playoff teams with Nashville in the beginning of my career and that’s one thing. You are playing for jobs, you’re playing for contracts, where you want to be next year and all kinds of stuff. We need to collectively play better individually and together. The results will come if everyone improves their game.”
 
A couple players said the biggest issue stopping the Flyers is that not enough players are raising their level in unison.
 
Or as Simon Gagne said, having one or two guys per night do it won’t cut it given how far back the Flyers are in the standings.
 
Although there weren’t a lot of smiles, players still said the playoffs can be had with a winning streak.
 
“We gotta win,” Hartnell said. “Playing teams and losing in the last eight minutes of the game like we did in Tampa Bay, we got to find ways to win.
 
“Find ways to get points. I don’t know how many one-goal games we’ve lost. Half of those if you go into overtime, that’s 4-5 points right there.
 
“We’re right behind [the eighth seed]. We are going to have to shut teams down, play great defense and pick up everybody.”
 
They need to do it right now, too.
 

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