When the announcement came on January 12 naming the roster for the 2012 NHL All-Star Game, there were four Philadelphia Flyers on the guest list. Forward Claude Giroux, defenseman Kimmo Timonen, and rookies Sean Couturier and Matt Read would be representing the City of Brotherly Love.
Whenever players are selected to participate in these midseason 'classics', in any sport, there are inevitably those deemed to have been snubbed due to their glaring omissions. While there were others throughout the League with obvious gripes for having been passed over, Flyers' left winger Scott Hartnell was one of the deserving players to not get the call.
Players deal with things in different ways. Some sulk and go into a slump while exhibiting indifferent play, but not Hartnell. Instead, he has gone in the exact polar opposite direction. The mop-haired 29-year-old has caught fire, scoring seven goals in the six games since the list of All-Stars participants were made public.
Saturday Hartnell netted two goals in a victory over the New Jersey Devils, and yesterday he scored a second period natural hat trick against the goal-stingy Boston Bruins. It just goes to prove that confidence can go a long way.
"Yeah, five goals in two games, it's a good weekend for anybody," he laughed after the game Sunday. "So, I'll take it. confidence is a weird thing. I have a lot of confidence and I feel strong on the puck, strong on the ice. My skating is good and when Giroux makes those nice little passes to me, it's nice to get a good shot off and was able to put a couple home."
To give you an idea of just how rare it is for a player to score a natural hat trick in a single period, consider that the last Flyer to accomplish the feat was 'Legion of Doom' winger Mikael Renberg, nearly 18 years ago when he pulled it off in the third period against the San Jose Sharks on February 15, 1994.
This was the first time in his career that Hartnell has scored multiple goals in consecutive games, and now gives him 25 goals for the season, which is tied for the fifth-highest total in the League. Two of his goals against Boston were scored via the power play, giving him an NHL-leading 13 scored while with a man advantage.
For his efforts, Hartnell was named the NHL's Second Star of the Week for the week ending January 22 (click here to see the NHL's official press release).
"I think he's a key contributor and a key factor as to why that line is successful," head coach Peter Laviolette said on Sunday. "He's got a lot of confidence right now the way he's playing. Tonight (Sunday) his game was excellent. He was physical, and obviously offensively he did what he needed to do. He was a competitive guy out there for us. His game has been really good for a long time."
One of the things the Flyers do each season is have the fathers of the players travel in to watch their sons play a few games. This past weekend just so happened to be one of those weekends, and Bill Hartnell, a retired teacher and principal, was on hand to see his son's big weekend.
"To see the smile on his face afterwards is special for me, obviously," Scott said after Sunday's game. "He's probably watched a thousand or fifteen hundred games that I've played, traveled around Western Canada growing up and watched every game on the NHL Network. To have him here and have a good game personally is pretty nice."
Hartnell's goals have been timely, too. He scored the game-winner in New Jersey Saturday, and the three yesterday helped bring Philly back from a 3-1 hole the club had dug for themselves during the first 20 minutes.
"He’s been on fire," said Maxime Talbot, who scored the other two goals against the Bruins. "You can look at his goals, they are all dirty area goals. He’s taking a fast check to shoot it. Obviously G (Giroux) has been making great plays, but Hartsy is the goal scorer. He’s firing back on net and he’s been great for us right now."
With a physical game that includes going into those dirty areas in front of the net and creating havoc, Hartnell is one of those players that opposing teams -- and their fans -- love to hate.
"My game isn't the flashy stuff," . "When I'm skating, I'm really effective. I'm physical, I'm on the puck, I'm winning battles for my linemates. The points have come in bunches, as well, so hopefully we keep that going."
It seems almost certain that Hartnell's career-high total of 30 goals, recorded during the 2008-09 season, will fall this year. And the way things have been going, it will likely be very soon.
Maybe he's even used the All-Star snub as a kind of motivational tool, but it doesn't bother him that he isn't getting the All-Star recognition for what is shaping up to be a tremendous season.
"It's alright that I don't get the alcolades and all that kind of stuff," Hartnell said after a 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on January 17. "I'm a hard-working guy in a hard-working city. That's all I care about is trying to be the hardest working guy."