NEW YORK - Madison Square Garden has been a house of horrors for the Flyers in recent seasons.
Four times in 3 years, players have left the ice strapped to a stretcher or in the arms of teammates.
Jeremy Roenick had his face crushed with a shot and Keith Primeau was knocked off the roster for months by Bobby Holik in the same game, in February 2004.
Mike Knuble broke a cheek bone and an orbital in a collision with Brendan Shanahan only last month. Shanahan went off on a stretcher in that game, and Knuble is still wearing a full cage over his face.
Last night, it was Todd Fedoruk.
In a heavyweight brawl 21 seconds into the Flyers' 5-0 loss to the Rangers, Colton Orr caught Fedoruk on the left side of his face with a right cross that dropped the big winger to the ice.
The scene was scary. Fedoruk lay motionless while a crowd of players, medical people and team personnel rushed to him. He eventually was conscious enough that he tried to refuse being taken off on a stretcher.
A video closeup clearly showed him saying, "You're not putting me on a stretcher. Let me get up."
He wasn't allowed and left the ice strapped down. He was taken to St. Vincent's Hospital, the same hospital that received Roenick and Shanahan, who last night played only his first game since the collision with Knuble on Feb. 17.
Fedoruk was to be held overnight, but did not suffer any significant injuries or fractures, a Rangers doctor reported. Later from the hospital, Fedoruk said: "I'm fine now. I'm a little sore, but I remember everything. I looked at him and he said, 'Let's go.' He knocked me out on the way down, and when I got off the ice, I woke up. I guess I got my bell rung."
It was an ugly start to a typical Rangers-Flyers game. The Rangers started with the Orr line, and the Flyers changed to their physical line 8 seconds in.
It didn't get much better through the rest of the period. Orr fought Ben Eager, the Rangers' Ryan Hollweg jumped Knuble, and Dimitry Afanasenkov nailed Hollweg.
"It was just a fair fight," said Orr, who did not dress in the previous game. "It was a good fight. He is going to hit you, so you want to hit him. The same thing could've happened to me. It is part of the game."
The Flyers were shaken and tried to recover, but it was not to be.
"It was 20 seconds into the game," Derian Hatcher said. "I definitely feel that we were probably thinking about it for a few minutes. He's a friend. You want to know if he's all right. It's tough to watch it."
Petr Prucha scored the first goal. Jaromir Jagr and Jed Ortmeyer scored one each, Sean Avery put two pucks behind Antero Niittymaki, and the Flyers were outshot, 34-17.
They were unable to generate any offense at equal strength or on the power play, especially playing without three top forwards - Simon Gagne, Scottie Upshall and Mike Richards.
Coach John Stevens said it would have been good to come into the game healthy, but the Flyers knew the Rangers would be pumped up, with Shanahan returning.
"We admitted it was a mistake the last time we played them that Colton wasn't in the lineup," Shanahan said. "Colton is a tough, tough guy and he plays well, too.
"For a guy that is known as a fighter, he plays a very intelligent and sound defensive game."
"We knew it was going to be a tough game," Stevens said. "We generated some chances, but didn't put any pucks in the net."
General manager Paul Holmgren said his team was definitely affected by the fight.
"We were affected in a negative way; they were affected in a positive way," he said.
Fear not. The teams will meet again a week from Saturday at the Wachovia Center. It is sure to be worth watching.
After being taken to St. Vincent's, Fedoruk was given a CT scan and X-rays. He suffered no bone damage.
"Todd is doing fine. He is awake. He is having some problems with short-term memory, but other than that, he is great," said Dr. Claude Macaluso, the Rangers neurologist.
"There are no neurological problems at all. We scanned him basically from the top of his head right down to the bottom of his neck. There are no fractures. [His] brain looks fine. He is going to be fine."
This is the fourth time the Flyers winger has suffered a severe blow to his face. He suffered fractures to the left side of his face in a fight early in his career with the Flyers; he was struck with a puck on the bench playing for the Phantoms during the NHL's lockout year; and 10 games into this season, the right side of his face was fractured in a fight when he was still with Anaheim against Derek Boogaard.
He missed most of the first half of the season, wore a full shield for about a month and now he is back in the hospital. He has at least nine small titanium plates in his face, holding his cheek and eye orbitals together.
"With the surgeries he's had, he basically has a titanium face," Holmgren said. *