Flyers’ Sean Couturier, Ryan Ellis added to COVID-19 protocol list; team restarts season Wednesday
Couturier and Ellis join teammates Morgan Frost, Kevin Hayes, and Max Willman in the NHL protocol.
The Flyers had bad news after their Christmas break Sunday as the team said center Sean Couturier and defenseman Ryan Ellis were on the COVID-19 protocol list.
General manager Chuck Fletcher said that Couturier was placed on the list Tuesday, and Ellis and two other staff members went on the list Sunday.
Couturier is tied for third on the team with 17 points, and Ellis, the Flyers’ biggest offseason addition, has played only four games because of an unspecified injury.
The Flyers now have five players in the COVID protocol. The others are Morgan Frost, Max Willman, and Kevin Hayes. Interim coach Mike Yeo was optimistic that those three players would be available when the Flyers practice Monday.
The team had about eight players at an optional practice Sunday afternoon in Voorhees. Many of the Flyers traveled to their homes over the holidays and will be back for Monday’s practice.
The Flyers will practice again Tuesday before traveling to Seattle, where they are scheduled to face the Kraken on Wednesday. The Flyers haven’t played since a 4-3 overtime win over visiting Ottawa on Dec. 18.
Yeo is hoping the league’s holiday/COVID break doesn’t stop the momentum the Flyers built by going on a 4-0-1 run before games were halted.
“Coming out of a break, we have to make sure the conditioning is there and the timing is there,” Yeo said, adding that the next two practices are critical. “We’re trying to build habits here, and that’s not something that’s easily done just by showing a video.”
Yeo added: “We want to become one of the best practice teams in the league, and this is an opportunity to build off that. ... We have to remember the things we were doing [before the break], how hard we were working to bring us some success.”
Derick Brassard participated in Sunday’s practice and is “getting close” to returning from a hip injury, Yeo said. “If there’s one little bit of a positive ... the break maybe gave him a chance to rest the body a little bit,” Yeo said.
Brassard, used primarily at center, has 11 points and a plus-7 rating in 18 games; he has missed 11 of the last 12 games.
Up next: Seattle
On Wednesday, the Flyers (12-12-5) will play in Seattle (10-17-3) for the first time ever. The first-year expansion team, coached by Dave Hakstol, dropped a 6-1 decision to the Flyers on Oct. 18 at the Wells Fargo Center.
In the teams’ first meeting, Brassard had three points (goal, two assists) to pace the Flyers. The FAB line of Joel Farabee, Cam Atkinson and Brassard combined for three goals and six points in the win.
Seattle has allowed 3.57 goals per game, 30th in the 32-team NHL.
Captain Claude Giroux needs one point to surpass Bill Barber (883 points) and become No. 2 on the Flyers’ all-time list, behind only Bobby Clarke (1,210). Clarke and Barber are in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Earlier this season, Giroux passed Clarke for the most power-play points in franchise history.
Atkinson has three goals, six points, and a plus-7 rating in his last four games. He has five goals over his last eight games. ... Because of COVID-19 concerns, the Flyers did not permit fans to attend Sunday’s practice. ... Yeo said since physical defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen was acquired, “he has been all-in to being a Flyer and doing whatever he can to help win.”