Philadelphia’s Unsung Hero’s
By Conor Hassard
On every team, you’re going to have the stars: Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Ryan Miller and the Sedin’s. There are a bunch of them. While all those guys are piling up the goals and making highlight-reel saves, there are also players who aren’t talked about so much.
For the Flyers, you have guys like Blair Betts, Sean O’Donnell, and Darroll Powe. None of these players are big playmakers or top scorers, but they are very instrumental to the team.
Blair Betts – I’m going to start off talking about Betts by stating this fact: Last year, the Flyers had an overall record of 41-35-6. Without Betts in the lineup, the Flyers were just 5-14. So with Betts, the Flyers were 36-21-6. Seems pretty impressive to me. Yeah, I know, it’s just a stat. A lot of people want to know how the player actually plays. If you look at stats only, you wouldn’t know how the players act. Some people could be the laziest people in the league and not play with any compassion, but they might have 20+ goals and have a good +/- rating.
If you follow the Flyers like I do, you’ll notice how much Betts can help on the PK. The man blocked 83 shots last year, ranking 3rd among all Flyers forwards. He won 435 faceoffs, ranking third among all Flyers forwards. He only has 8 goals and 10 assists, but 83 blocked shots are 83 less shots that the goalie has to face. Winning faceoffs can be huge whether it happens on the PK or not. Obviously, if you win the faceoff on the penalty kill, you can keep the puck for some time and then clear it into the offensive zone. You also see loads of goals scored from a faceoff win and a shot from the blue line.
Sean O’Donnell – The 39-year-old played on the amazing ‘Legion of Doom’ line. He was…………Oh, sorry. I’ve mistaken Sean O’Donnell for John LeClair. O’Donnell, who looks much like LeClair, was picked up by the Flyers this past offseason. It seemed like the Flyers goal this offseason was to have a solid defense, as they added O’Donnell and Andrej Meszaros. O’Donnell, even though 39 years old, is still playing in the NHL after 17 previous seasons. He’s willing to drop the gloves, too, as he showed us in preseason. Having tough defenders is a key to the game when you’re playing guys like Mike Knuble. The former-Flyer likes to stay in front of the net. He’s great at screening the net minder and redirecting the puck into the back of the net. You need someone to keep those guys away from the net and to protect your goalie. O’Donnell is perfect for that. He’s tough so he’ll have no problem fighting if you won’t stay out of the crease. He’s done it many times this season and will continue to do it. Bottom line: O’Donnell was a great pick-up by Flyers GM Paul Holmgren.
Darroll Powe – The Canadian forward who weighs 212 pounds and is 5’ 11”, will hit you. The quick center has a great work ethic and will never give up on a play. He will hustle up and down the ice and he will do it very quickly . Another thing he does is throw a lot of hits. If you think he wouldn’t hit a lot because of his size, you’re very wrong. In the entire regular season and playoffs last year, he led all Flyers with 246 hits. He may not be the best player, but that doesn’t bring his confidence down at all. He tries his hardest every game and never seems to be lazy. It’s a coach’s dream to have a player who never quits.
Again, you probably won’t see these players on a Top 10 list or getting over 30 goals, but they help out the team a lot. You need the stars but you also need these types of players in order to win Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Conor is a 14-year old aspiring sports writer. He attends Holy Cross middle school in Springfield, Pa.