The Flyers drafted Steve Downie in the first round in 2005 and re-acquired him in a trade with Colorado on Thursday. (USA Today Images)
It’s been a wild 24 hours for Steve Downie, who learned less than a day ago he had been traded to the Flyers by the Colorado Avalanche -- and, by 10:15 Friday morning, was on the ice at the Wells Fargo Center.
And now the biggest question is: Where does he fit into the lineup tonight against the Washington Capitals?
“There’s options right now,” coach Craig Berube said. “Got to think about it a little bit.”
The Flyers didn’t practice line rushes at their morning skate, but the assumption is Downie will get a chance on the team’s top line with Claude Giroux and Vinny Lecavalier. He knows both players, but actually spent a significant amount of time playing on a line with Lecavalier while with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It was great,” Lecavalier said. “First of all, he’s a great team guy, he’s a real nice guy. You guys have seen him here, too. He works really hard, smart player, makes plays. He can do everything -- he can score, he can pass. His work ethic, how hard he plays, it’s definitely something that he does very well.”
Downie last suited up for the Flyers in November 2008, and was known to Flyers fans as an energy guy who sometimes took that energy too far.
He still “plays with some fire in the belly,” Berube said, but has reigned in the behavioral issues, at least a bit.
“Seven years ago, so I’ve grown, I’m a little bit more mature,” Downie said. “I still play the game hard, I still play with an edge. Just going to bring my energy.”
The hope, then, is that the 26-year-old forward will add a much-needed spark to the Flyers’ flat offense.
“Especially a guy like Steve,” Berube said. “Some of the guys know him in here, and played with him, and know what he’s all about and what he’s like. He’s going to bring some jump to our game.”
Downie was selected by the Flyers in the first round of the 2005 draft, and said he had always hoped he'd return to the Flyers. There's no guarantee he stays here beyond this season, but he's thrilled to start Part II of his Flyers tenure tonight.
“Putting on the jersey again this morning was something special,” Downie said. “I’m going to have fun here.”
There’s been plenty of debate about the Flyers’ decision to trade Max Talbot, but one area in which there’s been complete agreement is this: The Flyers lost a very skilled penalty-killer.
Filling in for Talbot tonight – and likely for the foreseeable future – will be Adam Hall.
“He’s a good penalty killer, and can play different positions and stuff,” Berube said. “He’s a good versatile guy, good penalty killer.”
Hall had been a healthy scratch the Flyers’ last two games. He has no points in the nine games he’s played, in which he’s averaging 8:26 on the ice.
No Ovie, no problem?
The Flyers are fortunate that they’ll be facing an Alexander Ovechkin-less Capitals squad tonight.
Ovie has an impressive 10 goals in 12 games – almost a third of the Caps’ total scoring (32 goals) and half the Flyers' total (20 goals). He is a very big part of the reason the Caps’ power play, at 24.4 percent, is fifth in the league.
However, just because the Flyers are facing a team that’s lost it’s top weapon doesn’t mean they’re taking tonight’s task lightly.
“They’re going to work hard – they’re going to work even harder without him,” Berube said. “I can guarantee that. It’s going to be a tough game. We know that – got to be prepared for it.”
Mason goes again
Another start for goaltender Steve Mason tonight – his 10th of the season.
The Flyers’ goaltender has been consistent and impressive, despite his 3-6 record, posting a .928 save percentage and 2.25 goals against average.
The Flyers play again Saturday night in New Jersey, though, so Ray Emery will likely find himself the team’s starter in Newark.