The long pause in the NHL season because of the coronavirus outbreak has benefited three injured Flyers: left winger James van Riemsdyk, defenseman Phil Myers, and center Nate Thompson.
All are now healthy and ready to help the Flyers if the season can resume. The Flyers are scheduled to play in a round-robin seedings tournament with Boston, Tampa Bay, and Washington before going into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Thompson, a valuable fourth-line center, has been on the ice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees the last two days. The Flyers have 11 players participating in the small-group sessions, while the rest of their teammates are skating near their hometowns in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
“It’s good to be back with the rest of the guys,” Thompson, sporting a thick quarantine beard, said after Thursday’s workout. “I think just being back gives me the mindset that we’re going to be playing.”
He said it was good “feeling the puck and feeling like a hockey player again.”
When officials allowed a rink to open near his home in suburban Los Angeles, Thompson was able to skate two days a week with other players.
The 35-year-old Thompson sprained his left knee in the last game the Flyers played before the season was stopped, a 2-0 loss to visiting Boston on March 10. At the time, the Flyers recalled center Connor Bunnaman from the AHL’s Phantoms and said Thompson would miss at least two weeks.
“It feels great. In a way, you can say when the break started, it was good for me to rest my knee,” he said. “I had some time to heal up and relax, and at the same time, spend some quality time with the wife and the family. All in all, the knee feels good. I got some rest and I’m feeling pretty good on the ice.”
Thompson was acquired at the Feb. 24 trade deadline in a deal that sent a 2021 fifth-round draft pick to Montreal. The Flyers acquired him for his experience, penalty-killing ability, and faceoff dominance. He played well in seven games after the trade and averaged 12 minutes, 47 seconds per contest.
During his career, the 6-foot-1, 207-pound Thompson has played in a total of 62 playoff games with Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Tampa Bay.
An Alaska native, Thompson will be trying to help the Flyers regain the momentum they created by winning nine of their last 10 games.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be easy to get back, but I think we’re definitely going to have the confidence that we know what we’re capable of,” Thompson said.
“I think the biggest thing is just making sure guys are ready to go. When games resume, the guys know that everyone is at square one again. I think having the confidence and knowing we were able to win so many games in a row [nine] and playing our best hockey will help us moving forward.”
Thompson said he was “super excited” about the round-robin tournament and the Flyers’ having a chance to advance from their No. 4 seeding in the Eastern Conference.