Welcome to the Official Site of the Philadelphia Flyers Official DeskSite of the Philadelphia Flyers Flyer Wire Official Facebook of the Philadelphia Flyers Official Twitter of the Philadelphia Flyers Official Instagram of the Philadelphia Flyers Official LinkedIn of the Philadelphia Flyers
  • RSS

Scott Hartnell: Riding the wave

Columnist John Kopp looks at the success of Scott Hartnell this season

Friday, 12.16.2011 / 11:01 AM ET / News
By John Kopp  - PhiladelphiaFlyers.com
Share with your Friends

Scott Hartnell: Riding the wave
Scott Hartnell darted to the net during a fast-break against the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this month, arriving just as Andrej Meszaros sent a backhanded pass his way. Hartnell immediately deposited the puck into the net, falling to the ice in the process.

The scene was emblematic of Hartnell’s season, one in which he is tallying points at a career-best pace despite a penchant for wiping out that has both fans and Hartnell laughing.

Hartnell ranks second on the Flyers in scoring, but his accomplishments have been somewhat overshadowed. Playing on a line with Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr will do that.

The evolution of Giroux and the resurgence of Jagr have captured much attention – and rightfully so. Giroux quickly has joined hockey’s elite and Jagr has shown flashes of his youth after a three-year stint in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. Those storylines are impossible to ignore.

Yet, Hartnell, whose flashiest trait might just be his shaggy mop of hair, has silently pieced together one of the best seasons of his career.

Having overcome a sluggish start, Hartnell is scoring at a rate of nearly a point-per-game. He is on target to surpass many of his career highs.

“The first six games, I was only playing about 10 minutes a night,” Hartnell said. “I wasn’t 100 percent healthy. It was frustrating, but I got put with Giroux and Jagr and it seemed like we clicked right from the get-go.

“So, it was a good feeling when you get a line that can produce and we’re playing lots of minutes, back on the power play and all that kind of stuff. We’ve been making things happen out there.”

While Giroux and Jagr fill the highlight reels with dazzling plays, Hartnell handles the line’s layman duties. He forechecks, screens the goaltender and knocks in rebounds. It’s rarely pretty, but it’s essential to the success of his line.

“A lot of people don’t understand the little details that he does out there,” Giroux said. “I think he’s up there, for sure, for underrated player in the league.”

Both Giroux and Jagr praised Hartnell’s ability to draw defenders and create open space for them to work their magic. That open ice has helped Giroux contend for the league’s scoring title with 43 points.

“He’s a big body, kind of rolls around everywhere,” Giroux said. “He makes sure he goes around, hits some guys. When you’ve got a guy like that going to the net – and he’s a pretty good skater, too – it gives us a lot of room.”

Jagr, who has tallied 29 points, lauded Hartnell’s checking, but could not resist a playful jab.

“You know what I like about him?” Jagr deadpanned. “He doesn’t want the puck much. That’s what I like the most.”

Wisecracks aside, Jagr said Hartnell has a good sense of where he needs to be for scoring chances to develop.

“He doesn’t just sit on the boards,” Jagr said. “If he stands there, he’s easy to cover. He’s got a good sense where to go. He knows how to score goals. He knows when to go in the hole.”

Hartnell is quick to acknowledge his success is partly due to being matched with two prolific players. He said Jagr particularly has been helpful in sharing the wisdom gained from an acclaimed career.

“Before games, during games, between periods and stuff, he just talks to me about what I need to do here or vice versa,” Hartnell said. “He’s very smart about the game. He thinks the game out there.

“It’s been a real privilege and a real honor to play with him. I think his focus to the game, his passion for the game has rubbed off on me big time.”

While Jagr notoriously holds two-a-day practices, Hartnell said he’s also taken steps to better prepare himself.

“Not that I wasn’t prepared prior to this season, but I’m trying to get myself as focused and prepared for the games as much as possible,” Hartnell said. “I make sure I get my feet going, get emotionally into the game right off the bat and it doesn’t hurt playing with Giroux and Jagr.”

Though Hartnell arguably is playing the best hockey of his career, he’s had fine seasons in the past with both the Flyers and the Nashville Predators, where he began his career in 2000. He particularly shined during the Flyers’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010, totaling 17 points in 23 playoff games.

“You got to ride the waves,” Hartnell said. “You’re not going to score every night, but you try to make plays and help the team win every day. I think I’ve been a hot and cold player in the past, where I’d score five or six goals in a ten-game period and get one in the next ten games. So, I’m trying to keep this hot streak going, contribute and get wins.”

With both the Flyers and his line playing well, Hartnell has opened himself up to some good-natured ribbing from his fans.

Fans on Twitter have started chronicling Hartnell’s habit of falling down on the ice. It’s not uncommon to see Hartnell literally crashing the net or sliding into the boards. He’s even wiped out during a pregame skate.

Thus, fans have started counting the number of times Hartnell falls down during a given game, tagging Tweets with the hashtag #hartnelldown.

“I think it’s absolutely awesome,” Hartnell said. “I could have hated it and it could have bugged me for the rest of my career or I could have embraced it. I think it’s a funny thing.

“People have some pretty funny jokes on there about when I’ve fallen and (that) I’ve got to wear elbow pads and knee pads when I leave the house, all that stuff. It’s a pretty cool thing.”

Sometimes, as evidenced by his game-winning goal against the Penguins, he even provides the jokes and the goals at once.




1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47


C. Giroux 51 16 28 -6 44
J. Voracek 51 8 34 -1 42
W. Simmonds 51 18 16 -6 34
B. Schenn 49 14 15 -1 29
S. Gostisbehere 33 9 18 4 27
S. Couturier 40 9 15 9 24
M. Read 50 9 9 -5 18
S. Laughton 51 4 10 -6 14
M. Del Zotto 49 4 9 -9 13
M. Raffl 51 6 6 2 12
S. Mason 12 13 7 .916 2.69
M. Neuvirth 11 6 2 .933 2.14
Privacy Policy | AdChoices | California Privacy Rights | Contact Us | Advertise Employment | NHL.com Terms of Use

Philadelphiaflyers.com is the official Web site of the Philadelphia Flyers. Philadelphia Flyers and philadelphiaflyers.com are trademarks of Philadelphia Flyers, L.P. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Philadelphia Flyers, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.