Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossman was arguably the worst player on the Flyers this season, literally. He was awful; he scored one measly goal, worst on the team for players with some legitimate playing time this season. He also had the worst shooting percentage on the entire team with 1.4 percent (one goal off of 71 shots). Among defensemen, he was tied for last with a plus/minus rating of -6. He was also, well, you see where this is going.
So, why all the sudden is his absence going to hurt the Flyers more than people think? The answer is simple — veteran experience.
Grossman is a guy who has seen the ups and downs and the pressures of playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Of all the defensemen on the Flyers’ roster, only Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen have played in more playoff games than Grossman’s 27. Technically, Hal Gill has played in more as well, but if it wasn’t for the Grossman injury, Gill would never be on the current roster.
Grossman doesn’t have the best offensive ability, and that’s obvious. However, his experience showed in Games 1-4 in the Flyers’ current quarterfinal matchup with the New York Rangers. Among the Flyers’ defensemen, only Luke Schenn (+1) has a better plus/minus rating than Grossman’s even (zero). Grossman also leads the team in blocked shots this playoff season and is tied for second in the NHL for that stat with a number of other players.
It’s not always about scoring. When it comes to the playoffs, the scoring tends to be a heck of a lot more scarce. It’s that way because of players like Grossman. The Flyers pretty much replaced a spring chicken with an ancient relic. Grossman’s 29 years of age may not seem young, but compared to Gill’s 39 years of age, that’s a boatload of a youthful difference in hockey years.
There’s no word on Grossman’s status for Tuesday’s Game 6 in Philadelphia. It’s obvious though, the sooner he gets back, the better.