At some point in this roller-coaster of a hockey season, Flyers followers might begin to realize Nick Seeler is more than just a handy substitute for more high-priced/sidelined defensemen.
The 28-year-old Minnesota native jumped on board as a free agent last summer with the intention of either playing for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms or filling in when the Flyers needed a spare.
Turns out Seeler has yet to play a game in Allentown because he’s been too busy filling in for Ryan Ellis (long-term injury) or COVID victims Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim.
Actually, Seeler had to deal with COVID himself and just came off protocol for Thursday night’s game against Pittsburgh. He was back in the lineup for Saturday night’s game against the Sharks.
The Flyers are glad he’s available. He’s had 171 games of NHL experience and knows his ways around important aspects of the game, such as the penalty kill. Natural-born shot-blockers are welcome on any NHL roster.
“That has always been a strong part of my game,’’ Seeler said in a media Zoom call prior to the game. “I really enjoy penalty killing. . .blocking shots, that’s a big part of the penalty kill. I’m looking forward to the challenge.’’
Philadelphia was minus-4 on special teams against the Penguins so interim head coach Mike Yeo felt it was best to keep Seeler in the lineup. He paired him with veteran Justin Braun.
“With his (Seeler’s) defensive presence, his physicality, I’m hoping that can be a real tough, frustrating pair to play against,’’ Yeo said.
>Brassard status in limbo
Derick Brassard’s return to the lineup after a month off due to COVID and an ongoing injury lasted all of one game (Thursday night vs. Pittsburgh). He was scratched for Saturday night’s game against the Sharks and his status remains cloudy.
Of note, before the Penguin game, Brassard did not have a chance to take part in a full practice and only skated with the team the morning of the game at the Wells Fargo Center.
This is the second time Brassard has experienced a false start and the Flyers sound determined to make sure he’s right before he attempts a third comeback.
“From what I heard, it sounds like he had a good (doctor’s) appointment yesterday,’’ Yeo said. “He got kind of a better read what’s going on. I’m hopeful and optimistic going forward that we can put a good plan in place when he does return to play.’’
Brassard is another one of those multi-tool players who is sorely missed when he’s out of action.
“I thought early in the game he added something to us,’’ Yeo said. “He’s got the ability to make plays, the ability to play the power play, the ability to play both wing and center.’’
The Flyers entered Saturday night’s game with some rather glaring poor statistics.
For starters, they were a collective minus-28, including a rather ridiculous minus-21 on the road. The minus-28 is tied for next to last with Buffalo and Ottawa. Only Montreal’s minus-50 is worse.
On special teams, the Flyers were 28th on the power play at 15.5 percent; the penalty kill was a little better at 19th (79.4 percent).
Another sore spot: A losing record, 6-7-2, at home. Goaltenders Carter Hart and Martin Jones have struggled of late: They have a collective goals-against average of 3.28, which ranks 26th in the NHL. One bright spot: Joel Farabee’s 22.2 shooting percentage is tied for ninth in the league.