RALEIGH, N.C. — Center Scott Laughton will return to the Flyers lineup Saturday afternoon when they host Calgary, coach Alain Vigneault said after Thursday’s morning skate at the PNC Arena.
Laughton, who was cleared by a doctor Thursday morning in Philadelphia, will have missed 13 games with a broken right index finger, which was surgically repaired. He was scheduled to skate Thursday, and he will practice with the team Friday in Voorhees.
In nine games with the Flyers, Laughton had three assists and was a key contributor on the penalty kill. Laughton was injured in a 7-4 win over Columbus on Oct. 26.
When Laughton (and his $2.3 million cap hit) returns, the Flyers will have to make some roster decisions. They might put Nolan Patrick on the long-term injured reserve list and send Andy Andreoff back down to the Phantoms, assuming rookie Morgan Frost stays with the Flyers.
Lines scrambled (again)
Vigneault is scrambling three of his four lines for Thursday’s game in Carolina. The only line that will stay intact: Frost, who scored a goal in his NHL debut Tuesday in Florida, centering Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny.
In an effort to get Jake Voracek producing, the right winger will be on a line with Oskar Lindblom and Sean Couturier. Vigneault noted that whoever has played alongside Couturier has done well this season.
“We’re hoping to jump-start Jake a little bit,” Vigneault said.
Voracek, goal-less in his last 11 games, will aim for the 200th tally of his career.
The other two lines: Kevin Hayes centering Joel Farabee and Tyler Pitlick, and Michael Raffl centering James van Riemsdyk and possibly Andy Andreoff on the fourth unit.
Vigneault is contemplating using seven defensemen so that the forwards get more playing time, an attempt to get several of them out of slumps. If he uses seven defensemen, he said, Andreoff will be a healthy scratch.
Brian Elliott will face Carolina’s Petr Mrazek, a former Flyer, in the goalie matchup Thursday night.
Carter Hart made 33 saves as the Flyers defeated the Hurricanes, 4-1, on Nov. 5. The Flyers used a 3-0 third period to register that win.
Elliott is 4-2-2 with a 2.72 goals-against and .913 save percentage. Mrazek is 10-3-1 with a 2.57 GAA and .907 save percentage.
Couturier will play in his 600th game Thursday. The 26-year-old center will become the youngest player in Flyers history to reach that total. … Vigneault said that the Flyers had more of a “shooter’s mentality” in the first couple of weeks of the season and that “maybe that has slipped a little bit.” The Flyers have lost four in a row, averaging just 1.75 goals in that span. The Hurricanes have won four straight, averaging 5.25 goals during that streak. … Carolina’s defensemen have combined for a league-best 18 goals, led by Dougie Hamilton (9).