Flyers players look up to Matt Niskanen.
There’s a lot to look up to. The soon-to-be 33-year-old has a Stanley Cup ring and 125 career postseason games on his résumé.
The accomplished defenseman is also playing extremely well in his first season with the Flyers, solidifying the team’s blue line and impacting both special teams units.
In Friday’s 6-1 win over the Red Wings, teammates were left looking up to him even more after Niskanen took a shot to the face during the first period. He was left bloodied and returned in the second period with a caged helmet.
Impressively, Niskanen finished with two assists and a plus-4 rating in 17:11 minutes.
Let’s look at the five-best quotes after the game on Niskanen’s performance, starting with the defenseman himself:
The former Stars, Penguins and Capitals defenseman was asked how badly his face hurt on a scale of one to 10.
“Well, I’m numb right now,” Niskanen said, “so zero.”
Niskanen needed 15 stitches.
“It’s not as bad as it looks,” he said. “I’m assuming it looks pretty bad, but it was just a slice. Nothing major.”
Voracek, Niskanen and Sean Couturier hooked up on an important goal at the end of the second period, which cushioned the Flyers’ lead to 3-1.
As the Flyers started celebrating the marker, Voracek pointed emphatically at Niskanen.
“Old school. Veteran,” Voracek said of Niskanen. “I told him that’s why I passed him the puck on that third goal, because I only saw his cage. … I saw his cage sticking out, so I thought, ‘That’s got to be Nisky.’”
James van Riemsdyk
The Flyers nicknamed Niskanen “Steady Eddie” for his high level of consistency.
“He’s a warrior, he’s Mr. Consistency, he’s steady every single game back there,” van Riemsdyk said. “He’s a big part of our team and him coming in this year, his game and his style of game, what he brings to the table, really fits in well with our team. He’s been great for us right from the get-go.”
Laughton, who had a goal and an assist in the win, mentioned Niskanen’s leadership. The Flyers have spoken highly of Niskanen’s approach.
“He takes a puck in the face, he’s bleeding, he stays on the ice and comes back with a cage and makes a couple plays,” Laughton said. “I said it in the intermission, he’s invaluable. He’s a quiet leader for us and when he speaks, people listen. He’s been huge for us and really, really good in our room.”
Vigneault coached against Niskanen in the Metropolitan Division.
“Not only with the way he plays — he plays the right way with and without the puck — but tremendous amount of leadership,” Vigneault said. “If you’re a player, young or old on our team, you see him take a puck off the face, get stitched up, get fixed up and come back and play the way he did — that’s what we’re looking for for Flyer players and there’s no doubt that Nisky is bringing that for us.”
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