STATELINE, Nev. — It’s not often a defenseman transitions to forward in his career, but it does happen.
What is unusual is having a guy play defense and forward and maybe some more defense again in the same game, but that looks to be Mark Friedman’s task on Sunday when the Flyers play the Boston Bruins.
If he has ever played forward as a pro, it would be news to his coach.
“I didn’t even bother to ask him. I just told him he was playing on the right side,” Alain Vigneault said.
David Kase will come out of the lineup — assuming the Flyers and Bruins get the game in. The 2 o’clock start was pushed back to 7:30 p.m. because of the threat of excessive sunshine and warmth. NBCSN will televise.
The decision by Vigneault to dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen is probably the result of two things.
The Bruins, though in a scoring slump now, are one of those “heavy teams” that having a little insurance in case of injury would be nice to have. The Flyers already are going to be without veteran Justin Braun.
Second, this will be just the second game in 14 days for the Flyers, who had a five-hour plane ride and an hour bus ride from Reno to Lake Tahoe on Friday evening. Throw in that the elevation here is 6,224 feet and fatigue could be an issue. It can be hard to breathe up here even without wearing a mask.
“I think we’ll be fine [Sunday],” Vigneault countered. “We had a good, intense 30-minute practice [Saturday] that I think should take the plane legs out of the equation and the bus ride out of the equation. We’ll have our time to rest and get ready and we’ll be good to go [Sunday].”
Friedman has played in 10 career NHL games and three this season. His time Sunday should be minimal, as both the fourth-line right winger and the seventh defenseman, but it’s an indication of how desperate the Flyers are for bodies with Braun and five other forwards on the COVID-19 list.
“We have five guys missing from injury as well,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy pointed out. The most notable being forward David Krejci and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, each with lower-body injuries. “Both teams will be relying on depth and keeping it simple for the guys who are going in.”
David Kase’s older brother, Ondrej Kase (upper body), also will not play. Headline suggestion for their hometown paper back in the Czech Republic: “Kase Closed” (sad trombone). ... Cassidy had split up his top line, but will have Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak back together Sunday. ... Tuukka Rask, who is on a 9-0-2 streak against the Flyers, will be in net for Boston.
Carter Hart is 0-1-2 against Boston this year, with the regulation loss punctuated by him smashing his stick into a million pieces. This will be his first outdoor start since the 2018 World Juniors. ... After Sunday, the Flyers are off until they host the Rangers on Wednesday. Boston doesn’t play again until Thursday, so there would be a Monday window if Sunday’s game needed another push back.