Over the last two weeks, the flu has made its way through the Flyers’ locker room, nearly taking Travis Konecny out of the lineup last week against the Toronto Maple Leafs and keeping Keith Yandle out of practice on March 31.
Now, forward Joel Farabee is the latest Flyer to come down with the flu. He missed morning skate on Saturday and won’t be in the lineup for the Flyers’ game against the Anaheim Ducks.
In turn, the Flyers called up winger Hayden Hodgson from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to replace Farabee in the lineup. Hodgson, 26, made his NHL debut with the Flyers on March 24 against the St. Louis Blues, registering a goal and an assist.
“Keeps his head down,” linemate Kevin Hayes said of Hodgson after his NHL debut. “Works hard. Drives to the net. He’s a north-south player. And seems like a great kid.”
Hodgson spent five games with the Flyers, bouncing around the second, third, and fourth lines. When center Scott Laughton returned to the lineup on Tuesday after sitting out for a month with a concussion, the Flyers loaned Hodgson back to the Phantoms.
Before becoming a member of the Flyers organization, Hodgson spent four seasons with six different ECHL teams and one in Slovakia. Hodgson signed an AHL contract after participating in Phantoms training camp on a tryout. After the trade deadline passed, he signed an NHL contract for the rest of the 2021-22 season.
Hodgson is tied with Phantoms captain Cal O’Reilly for a team-high 19 goals this season. Through 46 games with the Phantoms, Hodgson has 12 assists for 31 points.
Jonesing for another start
In his last two starts, backup goalie Martin Jones has helped the Flyers secure wins over the New York Rangers and the Columbus Blue Jackets, posting a .945 save percentage and allowing four goals total.
Due to his strong performances, Jones earned the start over Carter Hart against the Ducks on Saturday.
“He’s really competing,” interim coach Mike Yeo said of Jones. “He’s really battling. Whether it’s fighting through traffic. Every team in the league is going to do their part to try to get the screens and try to get the net front presence. And I think that he’s doing a good job battling through that, controlling his rebounds.”
Jones, 32, joined the Flyers on a one-year deal this season after spending six seasons with the San Jose Sharks and two with the Los Angeles Kings. Although Jones was a candidate for a trade leading up to the March 21 deadline because of his expiring contract, the Flyers opted to keep him for the remainder of the year.
Since the trade deadline, Jones has registered a .913 save percentage through five games, an improvement over his .902 save percentage prior to March 21.
“He’s pretty even-keeled and doesn’t let too much affect him,” Laughton said. “You can tell he’s been in the league awhile and played some pretty big games. So I think anytime he’s in net, you can have a guy come in and you can have confidence in him.”
Mayhew makes his return
A few hours before the Flyers officially traded longtime captain Claude Giroux to the Florida Panthers on March 19, general manager Chuck Fletcher placed winger Gerry Mayhew on waivers to ultimately make room for Owen Tippett in the lineup.
Mayhew, 29, started to pack up his hotel room, thinking he would clear waivers and head back to the Phantoms. However, the next day, he received a call from Fletcher informing him that the Anaheim Ducks claimed him.
“I was like, wow,” Mayhew said. “Across the country. So I had to hurry and pack everything up. I had two hours to get my flight. Just came [to the Wells Fargo Center], got my bags, said bye to the people I could ‘cause they were playing [against the New York Islanders] and left.”
Throughout his short time with the Flyers while they struggled with injury and COVID-19, Mayhew made an impact. He registered six goals in 25 games for the Flyers, leading the team in goals from Jan. 20 to Feb. 21.
In addition to his production, he stood out with his energetic style of play while the Flyers slogged through multiple losing streaks from December to March. But as players returned from injury and the Flyers sought to give Tippett a good look, Mayhew became the odd man out.
“I got my opportunity and did pretty well,” Mayhew said. “It [stunk] that I had to leave, because it was such a great city. But everyone came back and that’s the way it kind of goes.”
Mayhew will be in the lineup on Saturday to face off against his former team. In seven games with the Ducks, Mayhew has scored twice.
While he only spent a part of one season in the Flyers organization, Mayhew said he felt the love from Flyers fans.
“The Mayhew Mania gave me a chuckle,” Mayhew said. “The fans were great to me. I know it’s not been the greatest season, but I’m excited to see what’s in the future.”
Winger Zack MacEwen has been cleared to play after sustaining a head injury in a fight against former Flyer and Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds on April 2. However, Yeo is not rushing MacEwen back. “Got to get him back involved and get him skating again before we put him back in the lineup,” Yeo said. … Winger Cam Atkinson did not participate in an optional morning skate on Saturday, but he will be available to play against the Ducks.