LAS VEGAS — Defenseman Phil Myers returned to the lineup Thursday night, as the Flyers continued their road trip by facing Vegas.
For the last six weeks, coach Alain Vigneault has been rotating Myers, Robert Hagg, and Shayne Gostisbehere in and out of the lineup, trying to give each of them playing time so they don’t get stale. Myers sat out the last two games.
“The way guys are playing is what’s most important, and also [being] healthy, and the schedule,” Vigneault said before the game, describing how he chooses which defensemen are in the lineup. “We want to make sure our seven guys get a chance to play.”
Myers’ six benchings since Nov. 16 — he missed another game because of back spasms — have been puzzling, however, because the Flyers have played well with the 6-foot-5 rookie in the lineup. The Flyers had points in 17 of the 22 games (14-5-3) Myers played entering Thursday. He was a team-best plus-18 and had 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 22 games.
Vigneault said the Flyers’ coaches have been working with Myers to improve his “reads" and his decisions with the puck. “But there’s definitely a lot there, and it’s just a mater of him and us getting together and getting the best out of him," he said.
Myers, 22, acknowledged that going in and out of the lineup has not been easy.
“You do your best. That’s all you can do,” he said, adding that assistant coach Mike Yeo said his benchings “weren’t because of my play. They just want to get everybody in the mix. I just try to control what I can control. When I’m not in the lineup, try to stay in shape and be ready whenever the opportunity comes.”
Myers, 22, one of three right-handed defensemen in the lineup, was be paired with 6-3 Travis Sanheim on Thursday.
“A big-sized, good skating pair of defensemen,” Vigneault said.
Hagg was a healthy scratch Thursday, and Gostisbehere was paired with Justin Braun.
The Flyers, 1-2 on their six-game road trip, were trying to bounce back from Tuesday’s 5-3 loss in Los Angeles that wasn’t as close as the final score might suggest.
Carter Hart was trying to end a personal five-game road losing streak. His last road win: a 3-2 shootout victory in Boston on Nov. 10.
The Flyers are one of two NHL teams — Detroit is the other — never to lose in Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena. They have outscored the Knights, 9-3, in two games.
The NHL will conduct a hearing Friday for Kurtis MacDermid’s illegal hit to Ivan Provorov’s head in Los Angeles’ easy win Tuesday. MacDermid was not given a penalty on the play.
“If Provy stays on the ice there, [MacDermid] probably gets a five-minute penalty,” Vigneault said. He said Provorov did "the right thing. He gets up and comes right to the bench, and those guys [officials] say they don’t see it at all. How can they not see that elbow to the face?”