Flyers' defense decimated, but GM not in trade mode
Partially becuise of injuries, the Flyers had four first-year defensemen in the lineup Thursday: Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg, Mark Alt, and Will O'Neill, who made his NHL debut in St. Louis.
ST. LOUIS — The Flyers' defense is decimated by injuries, but general manager Ron Hextall is not in panic mode.
Before the Flyers sent out a lineup that had four first-year defensemen in it Thursday in St. Louis, Hextall said he had no plans to make a trade for a blue liner.
"One reason you have depth is for when you get in situations like this. Unfortunately, some of our depth is hurt, too," Hextall said. "But to add a guy for a week and [then others return], you have too many players. It doesn't make a lot of sense."
The Flyers have three regular defensemen sidelined: Andrew MacDonald, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Radko Gudas. MacDonald, sidelined with a leg injury, is at least two-plus weeks away from returning. Gostisbehere and Gudas are listed as day to day.
Gostisbehere and center Nolan Patrick, each sidelined with apparent concussion-like symptoms, skated in Voorhees on Thursday and are making progress, Hextall said. There's a chance they'll be ready to return Saturday against Colorado, according to Hextall.
"We were banged up in '05 with the Flyers in the playoffs, but I'm not sure I've seen the big team and the depth [in the AHL]" hit so hard, he said.
The Flyers' AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley has defensemen Sam Morin and T.J. Brennan sidelined by injuries, and highly touted Phantoms defenseman Phil Myers recently returned to the lineup from a groin injury. Myers, however, is not ready to be recalled to the NHL at this point, Hextall said.
"That's life," Hextall said of the injuries. "Go with what you've got."
Because of Gudas' injury, Will O'Neill, a 29-year-old career minor-leaguer, made his NHL debut Thursday.
"It's always a tough spot playing your first NHL game, no matter how old you are," Hextall said. "What Will has in his favor is that he's been around a while."
Coach Dave Hakstol said he planned to rotate O'Neill into the lineup, hinting he would not get lots of ice time.
"I don't think you'll see a steady grouping of three pairs," he said before the game. "There will be a little bit of mixing and matching. We'll find the rhythm that's best for that group. We have to gauge where guys are at and how their legs are."
Ivan Provorov figured to be low on fumes. He played a career-high 29 minutes, 51 seconds in Wednesday's 3-0 loss in Chicago, a game in which the Flyers had only five healthy defensemen after Gudas was injured in the first period.
Gostisbehere has 98 career points in 153 games. Should he reach 100 points within his next 10 games, he will get to the century mark faster than any defenseman in franchise history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. …Tim Kerr was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday.