October 20, 2016
When the puck drops at around 7:21 tonight, it might be difficult for Brayden Schenn to keep his emotions in check. Not only is it the Flyers home opener (which will feature a pregame tribute video that honors the late Ed Snider), but the 25-year-old was suspended three games to begin this season by the NHL for this play on T.J. Oshie in last season’s playoffs.
Friendly reminder that this hit is the reason Brayden Schenn is suspended three games and we have to see Chris VandeVelde in the lineup. pic.twitter.com/VSzjd0Ctx5— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) October 15, 2016
(Man, that was vicious.)
Anyway, Schenn will find himself in his normal spot against the Anaheim Ducks, lining up at left wing on the top line next to Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds. And the message, from both player and coach, is that Schenn doesn’t have to try to stand out early.
“I’m excited to play tonight but I got to play the right way early on and not get too excited,” Schenn said. “Have your head in the right spot, put your emotions in the right place, and the rest will take care of itself.”
Schenn, who said he had “a partner along for the ride” in the similarly suspended Radko Gudas, credited assistant Ian Laperriere for keeping him in the best shape possible while he was out of the lineup. With the rest of the team already having three games under their belt, the Flyers understand that there will likely be an adjustment period.
“He’s coming in three games late here, everybody has a little head start on him in terms of regular-season level, regular-season play,” Dave Hakstol said.
“He’s just got to go out and do his thing. He’s a power forward that’s got to have a nose for the net for us.”
Schenn agreed to a four-year, $20.5 million contract in the offseason, the biggest piece of business that Ron Hextall and the front office did in the summer. He was also fairly encouraged (“not great, not bad either”) watching the Flyers opening three-game road trip (1-1-1) from the press box.
For a team suddenly without the services of Michael Raffl for a few weeks, tonight is a pretty good time for the Flyers to add a player coming off a career-high 59 points in 2015-16.
“He’s worked hard the last couple of weeks to stay ready so it’ll be a good night to get him back,” Hakstol said.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann