The Flyers are in a serious “rough patch,” coach Alain Vigneault said after practice Saturday, with his team down yet another center.
Three centers were injured in the game Friday, but Scott Laughton and Sean Couturier both returned to play and were at practice. Nate Thompson did not.
“Nate had an MRI this morning and I haven’t checked, but from what I saw yesterday after the game, his shoulder was dislocated, so I’m not expecting positive news,” Vigneault said.
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The Flyers are already missing centers Kevin Hayes (abdominal) and Derick Brassard (lower-body strain). Patrick Brown, who can play wing or center, is also out with a thumb injury. Those injuries, as well as defenseman Ryan Ellis’, happened during the season, but the Flyers started taking hits even before their first game.
In preseason both Tanner Laczynski and Wade Allison, who Vigneault said thought had good chances to make the team, were injured, as was Samuel Morin, the team’s projectedseventh defenseman.
“it just seems like it’s snowballed ever since,” Vigneault said. “So with the number of games we’re playing now, six in nine, that’s real taxing physically and real taxing mentally.”
With all the injuries, especially to one specific position, the team’s management has some “evaluating” to do, Vigneault said. He and general manager Chuck Fletcher will be meeting to figure out how to restructure the lines after the latest injury news.
“We’re pretty stretched out throughout our organization here and with our farm team,” Vigneault said. “I think there are 14 or 15 guys out at this time. We’re just gonna sort out the pieces right now and sort of, by tomorrow, we’ll have a plan.”
The team has to take it one day at a time, Vigneault said, and hope they suffer no more injuries until they get some players back.
A broken reset button
After the Flyers lost their fifth game in a row, Vigneault said they were going to return to practice Saturday and “reset.” But once they arrived in Voorhees, NJ, they found that wasn’t so easy.
“Today was a challenging day,” Vigneault said. “For the first part of practice, we had 10 forwards and six Ds. Usually, to have a full, real practice, you’re looking at four lines and eight defensemen.”
However, they have no choice but to keep trying to push the reset button, said Couturier, who was late because of personal reasons. They have three divisional games coming up, two against teams with as few or fewer wins than them, which means they have a chance for a bit of a bounce back.
The team has faced a lot of adversity in the past few weeks between injuries and tough opponents, but Couturier thinks the problems go deeper.
“In the long run, I think it does hurt us,” Couturier said of Ellis and Hayes’ injuries, specifically. “But at the same time, I don’t think even if they were there, the way we’re playing, the way we’re finding ways to lose games, I don’t think it would make a difference.”
Practice wasn’t all bad, though, and Vigneault was happy with the positioning work the forwards did and assistant coach Michael Yeo’s work with the defense. He said they’ll do further video work and meet tomorrow before their game against the New Jersey Devils.
“The only thing that can be in our mind right now is tomorrow, and that’s New Jersey,” Vigneault said. “That’s what we’ve got to focus on.”
Martin Jones will start in goal when the Flyers head to Newark on Sunday for a 7 p.m. game against the Devils. ... Morin skated before practice Saturday. Vigneault said he doesn’t have an update, but he thinks it’s a good sign Morin was on the ice.