Flyers forward Morgan Frost, among about 50 NHL players currently in the league’s COVID-19 protocol, will not make the road trip to Montreal, where they play Thursday.
“I’m not sure what his timeline is,” interim coach Mike Yeo said after Wednesday’s practice in Voorhees, “but obviously he’s not going to be with us for the next couple days here.”
Oskar Lindblom was moved to Frost’s spot as the second-line left winger at practice, and Jackson Cates was recalled Wednesday from the AHL’s Phantoms. Cates will play left wing on the fourth line, a spot Lindblom occupied the last three games.
The Flyers (11-12-4) will take a three-game winning streak into Montreal (6-21-3).
On Wednesday, the Flyers at practice were tested for COVID-19, and Yeo said he assumed their results were negative because all were headed to Montreal. He wasn’t sure if Frost had been retested, and general manager Chuck Fletcher declined to answer questions from the media.
Early in Tuesday’s 6-1 win over New Jersey at the Wells Fargo Center, Frost (four points in 10 games) left the ice and went to the locker room. After the game, it was announced he was placed in the league’s COVID-19 protocol.
Lindblom, who was scoreless in his first 21 games before netting two goals in the last five games, played alongside center Claude Giroux and right winger Cam Atkinson at Wednesday’s practice. After Frost left Tuesday’s game, Lindblom spent some time on that line and had a goal and an assist.
“It’s no different who I play with,” said Lindblom. “I just have to focus on my game and if I play well. That’s going to make my teammates better, too.”
Yeo said last week that Lindblom’s scoring issues were more mental than physical. He played last season after beating a rare form of bone cancer.
Lindblom agreed with Yeo’s assessment.
“I had high hopes coming into the season, so it’s tough when it’s not clicking, right,” he said. “I’m not used to being in that situation, too, so you just try to stay focused every day. Try to stay positive. I mean, nothing else you can do. Just have to keep grinding here and do my thing and hopefully, I can get better and better during the season.”
COVID-19 cases are rising around the NHL. In their one-sided loss to the Flyers, the Devils were missing three players who were in the virus protocol.
“You look around the league, the world, it’s obviously out there right now and things are getting a little bit crazier,” Yeo said. “The message we had to the group this morning was that obviously we have to be careful here. You have to be smart, but at the same time, we can’t afford any distractions now. We’re in a dogfight and we’re still trying to work and build on our game. You take the precautions you need, but we have to make sure when we come to the rink we’re ready to work and prepare and play.”
The Flyers have said all of their players and staff are vaccinated. Bill Daly, the league’s deputy commissioner, said NHL players are avoiding serious illness from the coronavirus because almost all of them are vaccinated.
But as more players contract the coronavirus and more games are postponed, it is playing havoc with the schedule and may affect whether NHL players compete in February’s Beijing Olympics. If a player contracts COVID-19 in China, he may have to quarantine for as long as five weeks, according to the International Olympic Committee.
The league on )Wednesday postponed Calgary’s games through at least Saturday because of a COVID-19 outbreak, and that will probably be extended. The Flames put seven more players on the COVID list Wednesday, including South Jersey’s Johnny Gaudreau, and now have 16 players in the protocol.
Six players on the Carolina Hurricanes have the coronavirus, and their game against Minnesota on Tuesday was postponed.
Star players such as the Islanders’ Mathew Barzal and Boston’s Brad Marchand were among those who entered the COVID-19 protocol Tuesday. Boston’s Patrice Bergeron and Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetzov were added Wednesday, among others.
Earlier this season, Ottawa had 10 players in the COVID-19 protocol and had three games postponed.
Thus far, the league has had to postpone 10 games this season because of the pandemic; 55 were postponed last season.
As part of the NHL’s COVID-19 policy, vaccinated players are tested at least every third day.
“It’s always tough and stressful when COVID is going on in the league,” said Lindblom, who had the coronavirus in February. “You can’t really think too much about it. If it happens, it happens and take it from there.”
Carter Hart will face the Canadiens. ... Giroux needs one point to tie Bill Barber (883 points) for second place on the Flyers’ all-time list. Bobby Clarke is No. 1 with 1,210 points. ... Joel Farabee (shoulder) and Tanner Laczynski (hip) skated with skills coach Angelo Ricci before practice. Ryan Ellis was not ready to participate. ... Yeo was pleased with Farabee’s progress after the winger took limited contact during the regular practice. He won’t play Thursday. ... The Flyers considered recalling right winger Wade Allison, who recently returned to the Phantoms after recovering from a high ankle sprain, but wanted someone who shot lefthanded and was better-suited for a fourth-line role, Yeo said.