TAMPA, Fla. - At any given point during an NHL season - and especially as it progresses - the trainer's room may be a more popular hangout for players than the locker room itself.
Players skate through various bumps, bruises, strains, sprains and cuts during an 82-game grind that lasts from September through April, most often without anyone catching wind of an injury, without anyone knowing other than the player, his teammates and management.
Kimmo Timonen, for one, battles through chronic lower-back pain.
Matt Read has battled through a shoulder injury.
Publicly, Brayden Schenn has had his fair share of tough breaks this season. He has played in just six games, missing time since training camp with a shoulder injury, a fractured foot and now a concussion.
But few players have dealt with more behind the medical curtain than James van Riemsdyk.
After sitting out for four games earlier this month with a muscular tear in his midsection, van Riemsdyk has been hampered by two different injuries recently that has limited his production on the scoresheet. Van Riemsdyk, 22, has just one goal and two assists in his last 10 games since returning from the muscular tear. He went nine straight games without a goal, a streak that was broken on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
Multiple sources confirmed yesterday that van Riemsdyk has both a cam impingement in his hip, which has been bothering him since the onset of the season, and a knee that was "banged up a few games ago" but was aided by rest over the 2-day Christmas holiday break.
When asked yesterday after an hourlong practice, van Riemsdyk said he didn't want to delve into specifics about his injuries.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren denied both of van Riemsdyk's injuries when asked yesterday.
"Lots of guys have issues throughout the season," Holmgren said in a text message.
A source said that van Riemsdyk could require offseason surgery to correct his hip injury, which is a common occurrence in hockey players. One recent report suggested that more than 50 percent of all NHL players have a similar hip injury due to overuse. A cam impingement occurs when the ball-shaped femoral head rubs abnormally or does not have full range of motion in the pelvic socket. This can result in damage to the cartilage surrounding the bone.
On the ice, van Riemsdyk has not appeared to be comfortable in his stride. At times, especially over the past three or four games, he appears to be laboring up and down the ice.
Overall, van Riemsdyk has nine goals and 10 assists in 29 games. When healthy, van Riemsdyk posted eight points in just four games from Oct. 27 to Nov. 5. He signed a 6-year, $25.5 million deal last summer, which kicks in next season. For now, it's safe to say that judgment should be reserved on that deal until he is given a chance to play at full-strength.
Van Riemsdyk will continue to labor through those injuries tonight in Tampa Bay, where he has collected nine points in 10 career games against the Lightning. He is the Flyers' second-best point producer against Tampa Bay after Jaromir Jagr's 71 points in 58 career games.
Brayden Schenn's main responsibility over the Christmas holiday was to cook a delectable dinner for teammates Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux and Matt Read - who also do not have family in the Philadelphia area - with the HBO cameras watching. They shared a 20-pound turkey, with lots of leftovers, between the four of them.
Now, Schenn has a bigger chore on his plate: getting healthy enough to return to the lineup.
Schenn, 20, has not played since sustaining a concussion on Dec. 3 in Phoenix. Schenn originally returned to practice on Dec. 14 in Montreal, but did not skate again with the team until yesterday. He said he last felt concussion symptoms "5 or 6 days ago."
"Right now, I'm feeling good," Schenn said. "I skated three times when the team was on the road. I try not to worry about it, but I'm just trying to get my confidence back. It feels good now, I hope it feels this good [today]. You never know what you're going to get when you wake up."
Schenn, listed as day-to-day, was cleared for contact in yesterday's practice. Sean Couturier, was the only one wearing the yellow, "non-contact" jersey in practice. Couturier began skating again on Dec. 23 for the first time since being hit in the helmet with a Kimmo Timonen slap shot on Dec. 17.
He has never actually been diagnosed with a concussion, but Couturier is likely to remain out at least through tonight's game.
"We're going day-by-day," Couturier said. "Last Friday was just the first time in a week, and I felt off-balance a little bit. I feel better now. It depends on how my head reacts."
Danny Briere, who missed last Friday's game with a bruised right index finger, said he expects to "be good to go" tonight . . . Defenseman Erik Gustafsson, still rehabbing from wrist surgery, said he is near 100 percent ready and could play against Tampa Bay if called upon . . . Ilya Bryzgalov is 3-1-1 lifetime vs. Tampa Bay with a 2.08 goals-against average . . . Tampa Bay is just 11-12-2 against Eastern Conference foes this season.