Coach Peter Laviolette and the rest of the Flyers organization are hoping that injured defenseman Chris Pronger can return, but nobody has any timetable.
Pronger was recovering from surgery to his right foot when the Flyers announced on Friday that he has had concussion symptoms and will be out indefinitely. Originally the Flyers had announced that Pronger had a virus.
Pronger will be evaluated by concussion specialists Joe Maroon and Mickey Collins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
Since July 2010, Pronger has gone through five operations. He's had arthroscopic surgery on his right and left knee. There has also been surgery on his right foot, his back, and his right hand and wrist. Also this season he suffered an injury to his right eye when hit with a stick against Toronto. Saturday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wells Fargo Center was the 15th he has missed this season.
Laviolette said it was difficult to watch what his all-star defenseman has gone through.
"I think everybody feels bad for him, and first and foremost I hope he gets healthy for life," Laviolette said before Saturday's game. "It's never any fun, and if you had injuries nagging you it sucks. I hope he gets healthy first and foremost, period."
The painful reality is that the Flyers have to proceed with their leader out of the lineup.
"Do we wish we had Chris back? Of course we do, he is a terrific player and defenseman," Laviolette said. "He's not here."
Laviolette was perplexed when asked if the Flyers have to prepare for life without Pronger.
"I don't know what it means to prepare for life without Chris Pronger," Laviolette said. "I don't know when we are getting him back."
The coach remains confident regardless of who is on the ice.
"We have a good team in that locker room and I feel we can win," he said.
After Saturday's game with Tampa Bay, the Flyers will be on the road for seven of their next eight games before returning for the Winter Classic against the New York Rangers on Jan. 2 at Citizens Bank Park.
The only home game in the next eight will be Saturday against the Boston Bruins.
The Flyers entered Saturday with the most road points in the NHL. They are 10-3-1 on the road for 21 points. Florida also entered Saturday with 21 road points, but the Panthers (10-6-1) had played three more games than the Flyers.