Another day, another injury for the Flyers, as fourth-line center Nate Thompson will miss at least two weeks because of a sprained left knee. Connor Bunnaman will take his place on the roster.
Thompson was injured in what seemed to be an innocuous collision along the boards with Boston’s Ondrej Kase in the first period Tuesday night. He was acquired at the Feb. 24 trade deadline from Montreal and took the spot Bunnaman had occupied for five weeks.
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The Flyers wanted experience at the position, and Thompson had played in more than 750 NHL games. But now they must rely on Bunnaman, a rookie whose appearance on Thursday in Tampa Bay will be career game No. 22.
“For me, this is next man up,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “Some guys are going to get more ice time, a little bigger role.”
The Flyers also recalled Mark Friedman for depth on defense. Friedman will make the trip to Tampa, but (unless something unforeseen happens) be a healthy scratch as the seventh defenseman. The Flyers said Tuesday that Phil Myers will be sidelined several weeks with a broken kneecap, which enabled Shayne Gostisbehere’s return to the lineup.
Last week, James van Riemsdyk suffered a broken hand while blocking a shot against Washington. He’s expected to be out another 3-5 weeks.
Thompson played 12 minutes, 19 seconds on Tuesday despite the injury, right around his average (12:47).
Brian Elliott will start in net Thursday against the Lightning, who have beaten the Flyers twice this season in tight games. Carter Hart started the previous two.
“It’s a big game,”Elliott said. “They’re a great team, a great team at home.”
While the Lightning are dangerous, they have not been a great team lately. They are 3-6-1 since mid-February.
Expect Elliott to also get one of this weekend’s afternoon games at the Wells Fargo Center. Minnesota will be here Saturday, and Edmonton on Sunday.
The Flyers will remain one point back of Washington and three points ahead of Pittsburgh in the cramped Metropolitan Division race when everybody hits the ice at 7 o’clock Thursday night.
The Capitals will host Detroit and Pittsburgh will visit Columbus.
Because of coronavirus adjustments, NHL players meet the media in a more formalized session with a table and microphone rather than a scrum of cameras, recorders, and elbows around their locker stalls.
When Elliott and Justin Braun sat down at a table set up with microphones, it brought back memories for Elliott, who was the goalie when Wisconsin won the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
“Feels just like the national championship,” Elliott said.
Braun, who played college hockey at UMass-Amherst, replied, “I wouldn’t know.”