Since being acquired by the Flyers in 2008-09, the only consistent aspect of truculent forward Dan Carcillo has been his inability to find a niche’. And that hasn’t changed this season. Logging a time-on-ice average of just 8:25 minutes for the first four games of the year, along with being scratched entirely in against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 16, it seems that the answer to where Carcillo fits is coming to a head in Philadelphia.
“I think I’m an NHL player,” Carcillo told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “In my mind, I think I can play and be effective in this lineup. Maybe (Flyers coach) Peter (Laviolette) doesn’t see that. Who knows?”
The 25-year-old known as “Car Bomb” for his explosive temper and aggressive play, has been nothing of the sort so far this season. Starting on a line with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards as part of the team’s top-six forwards, Carcillo has struggled to keep up. And with Jody Shelley, Blair Betts and Darroll Powe together as the team’s fourth line, Carcillo has nowhere to go but on the bench. Caught between a skill player and an agitator, Carcillo has been neither.
“I’ve seen it at times,” said Laviolette about Carcillo’s fire. “I’d like to see more consistency with that. “Danny is at his best when he’s banging bodies and getting under the skin of the opponent.”
Carcillo’s lack of use has also been highlighted by the fact that the Flyers have been shorthanded a league-high 31 times in just five games. Add that to the 22 times that Philly has been on the power play, and Carcillo’s usefulness during any given game is extremely limited, especially if he isn’t bringing the energy or physicality that he has trademarked. The Flyers have activated forward Andreas Nodl in Carcillo’s place, mainly due to Nodl’s ability to play on the penalty kill.
“I’ve only played six minutes in two of those four games, so it’s hard to get going when you play that amount of time,” said Carcillo, who had a sports hernia surgery late in the offseason. “The message I’ve got is that they want to get a guy in there who can play the PK.”
With a crowded forward lineup and the team looking for versatility, Carcillo’s only option is fall back on what made him a successful player up until this point. But from the way it sounds, the Flyers’ firecracker is frustrated and quickly fizzling out.
And if that’s the case, a change might be needed by both parties.