When the Flyers head across the northern border to western Canada for a three-game road trip against the Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, and the Calgary Flames, top-pairing defenseman Ryan Ellis will be along for the flight on Monday.
Ellis, who missed the final game of the Flyers’ season-opening homestand against the Florida Panthers with an undisclosed injury, practiced on Monday ahead of the team’s trip to Canada. It was his first appearance on the ice since the Flyers played the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.
Head coach Alain Vigneault still considers Ellis “day to day” with the injury. The Flyers coaching and medical staff will make a decision on Ellis’ status for Wednesday’s game against the Oilers by puck drop. If Ellis is healthy enough to play, his presence will benefit the Flyers as they attempt to tame the undefeated Oilers.
“We’re playing against a team that hasn’t lost a game yet,” Vigneault said. “I think the Great One [Wayne Gretzky] the other day on TV said that he thinks their power play now is better than the one that they had when they won those Cups back then. So that says a lot about their specialty teams.”
During the portions of practice when the skaters were working with their respective lines and pairs, Ellis was partnered with Ivan Provorov as usual. On Saturday against the Panthers, Provorov was paired with Justin Braun in Ellis’ absence. Without Ellis alongside him, Provorov had his first negative plus-minus game of the season (minus-1).
Braun slid back into his usual spot on the third pairing with Keith Yandle throughout the bulk of the session.
While Ellis participated in practice, the Flyers were careful with their 30-year-old defenseman. During the portion of practice when Vigneault ran rush drills, Ellis sat on the bench and caught a breather. Ellis also left the ice early while the team was running a five-on-five drill toward the end of practice. However, when the team worked on the power play, Ellis assumed his role quarterbacking the team’s second unit.
When Ellis wasn’t participating during the five-on-five drills, Braun took Ellis’ place on the top pairing with Provorov and Nick Seeler slid into Braun’s spot on the third pairing.
Delay for Brown
Shortly after the Flyers claimed forward Patrick Brown off waivers, he was placed in COVID-19 protocol on Oct. 14. After roughly a week, Brown joined the team for the first time at practice on Friday ahead of the team’s game against the Panthers. Brown was not active for the game.
While Brown is practicing with the team and is in the process of getting back into skating shape, he won’t be making the trip immediately to western Canada with the Flyers on Monday. According to the Canadian government’s travel regulations, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must show proof of a positive test taken at least 14 days before entry.
As a result, Brown is not expected to arrive in Canada until Wednesday. According to Vigneault, Brown will take separate flights and rejoin the team for morning skate in advance of their game against the Oilers.
“[Brown] came in yesterday,” Vigneault said. “It was a day off. He skated on his own. So he wants to play. He told me, ‘If I can get in there Wednesday, I’d like to play.’ We’ll see what happens.”
If Brown does not play on Wednesday, Vigneault anticipates that he will be in the lineup at some point during the road trip.
According to Vigneault, goalie Carter Hart will get the start in Edmonton. Hart, a native of Sherwood Park, Alberta, will play in his hometown for just the second time as a Flyer. His first and only outing in Edmonton was on Oct. 16, 2019, which resulted in a 6-3 Oilers victory. ... Backup goalie Martin Jones, who grew up in North Vancouver, British Columbia, will start in net against the Canucks.