DENVER - The Flyers received some positive news yesterday: Randy Jones' right-hip injury is not as severe as they had feared. The team said the defenseman would be sidelined for seven to nine weeks instead of the original projection of 12 to 16 weeks.
Jones underwent surgery on Wednesday, and fellow defenseman Ryan Parent had his right shoulder surgically repaired yesterday. Parent will miss 10 weeks, general manager Paul Holmgren said.
Jones' injury "isn't as bad as we first thought," Holmgren said as he watched the team's morning practice. "I'm not a doctor, but the part inside the joint isn't a bony problem - which we thought it was - but a fatty-tissue issue. I guess he has fat hips."
After Jones' projected return was moved up, Holmgren was asked if 18-year-old defenseman Luca Sbisa would be sent to juniors. If Sbisa is on the Flyers' roster for 10 games, he must remain there for the rest of the season.
"We'll continue to monitor Sbisa," Holmgren said.
It seems likely that Sbisa will stay with the Flyers all season. Coach John Stevens called him one of the club's best players in Tuesday's 3-2, overtime loss in Pittsburgh and used him in critical, late-game situations.
In an effort to get Joffrey Lupul and Steve Downie untracked, Stevens made some line changes in last night's game against the Colorado Avalanche.
Lupul was moved from right wing to center on the third line, and Downie was shifted from fourth-line center to right wing on Lupul's line. In addition, Glen Metropolit was moved from the third to fourth line, centering Riley Cote and Arron Asham.
"We'll see how it goes," Stevens said. "We still have flexibility in games to move people up and down and give them help on face-offs as they need it. But it's something we want to take a look at."
Lupul was excited to return to a position he has not played since juniors.
"You don't have to change that much," he said. "I'm going to be low in our end a little more, but it shouldn't be a problem. I've got a big body, and I'm going to be down low in the corners. I like the idea. You get the puck a little more, which I'm looking forward to. Face-offs are a work in progress, but I've got [Scott Hartnell] and [Downie] with me, and they both can take draws as well, so I think we'll be all right."
Stevens considered starting Antero Niittymaki in goal last night until he came down with the flu. Marty Biron started for the Flyers.
World Series effect
Because of the Phillies' involvement in the World Series, there is a chance the Flyers' game against the visiting New Jersey Devils on Oct. 25 will be moved from 7 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The Phillies will play Game 3 of the World Series at Citizens Bank Park that day, so the Flyers would like to move their night game to alleviate some of the traffic congestion.
Entering last night, the Flyers had scored none of their eight goals in the first period. They were shut out in the first again against Colorado. . . . VCR alert: The NHL Network will show the Flyers' 40th anniversary video Sunday at 8 p.m.