Wounded Flyers Thankful For The Rest

28 Nov

It’s reached the point of being ridiculous. It’s not just fluke hits or whatever string of the flu seems to be going around. The Flyers are even injuring each other at this point. Among 10 players, they have 50 man games lost to injury. Lucky for them, they have five days in between games and won’t suit up again until Friday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The latest victim might be Andreas Nodl. He drilled Danny Briere in the first period of Saturday’s game against the Rangers, but ended up getting the worst of it. He played only two shifts in the second period and never returned for the final stanza.

“He said he never saw me,” said Briere. “He was trying to get to the puck to throw it back in, and he probably felt someone coming and tried to get out of the way and when I was coming, I was coming with a lot of speed.

“I thought he was going to shield the puck with his body from the defenseman and give me the outside lane.”

Nodl left the game, but the Flyers say that he was checked out by team doctors on Sunday and will be fine.

Meanwhile, Chris Pronger, James van Riemsdyk, Jaromir Jagr, Erik Gustafsson and Andreas Lilja are all trying to recover from their respective injuries. They won’t all be back in time for Friday’s game, but they’re hoping Pronger and Jagr will.

“We’ve played lots of hockey. We need that break,” said Briere. “I think it’s good timing … go back to the basics, have a few practices where we can really push ourselves.”

Some of the Flyers have already been pushed because of the injuries. With one-third of the Opening Night defensive corps on the shelf as well as Gustafsson, the Flyers’ top four blueliners are forced to play bigger minutes than normal while bringing Kevin Marshall and Marc-Andre Bourdon up to speed.

Braydon Coburn played 28:03 on Saturday. That’s only the second time in the last two-plus seasons he’s played more than 28 minutes in a game, but he’s being counted on a little extra these days.

“I think it’s been good for some guys that don’t play as much to get this extra ice time and get in here and prove themselves in there,” said Coburn. “We had two young Ds in there [Saturday]. I thought they did a good job. It’s not easy coming up and coming into a hostile territory like this and playing some of your first NHL games so I thought they did a really good job filling in.

“Anytime there’s injuries there’s always opportunity to step up.”

That rings true away from the blue line, too. The Flyers have gotten contributions from guys like Max Talbot, Matt Read and Jakub Voracek who have seen bigger roles because of the injuries. Despite all the time that’s been lost, the Flyers remain within striking distance of first place in the division and conference.

“You never want to use that as an excuse,” said Talbot. “We have a solid group of guys in this dressing room and you can’t use it as an excuse.”

That’s not to say they wouldn’t like to have their teammates back. With this lengthy break, and no practice on Sunday or Monday, they’ll have a chance to get a couple of them back.

“We miss our captain back there,” said Scott Hartnell. “Lils had a lower-body injury there. It’s a little bit depleted, but the rest I think anytime during an NHL season you welcome days off.

“We’ve got to do the right things. [Claude] Giroux plays a lot of minutes. It’s good for him to get hopefully a couple days off and recoup, recover and get ready for a big stretch in December. We’ve got a lot of road games. We’ve got to be taking care of ourselves.”

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