VOORHEES, N.J. — With 13 points, Shayne Gostisbehere is tied for the NHL lead among all defensemen.
And he's even missed the last three games recovering from an upper-body injury.
That goes to show the impact he makes on the Flyers when healthy and himself, which he appears to be again ahead of Saturday night's game against the Colorado Avalanche at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./NBC Sports Philadelphia).
Gostisbehere took full part in the morning skate and sounds ready to rejoin the Flyers' lineup. However, he is considered a game-time decision, according to head coach Dave Hakstol. The Flyers will dress seven defensemen during pregame warmups and then make a decision on the six to play.
Barring some unforeseen setback, though, expect to see Gostisbehere's return.
"I'm good," Gostisbehere said. "I feel great.
"I believe it's going to be a game-time sort of thing. I feel like I'm ready and we'll see where it's at."
If Gostisbehere does play, Hakstol didn't believe he would have to strictly watch the blueliner's minutes. The 24-year-old has been out with an upper-body injury after he was boarded by Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov last Saturday in Toronto.
Since then, the Flyers have scored just five goals in three games, including an overtime loss to the NHL-worst Coyotes and a shutout to the Blackhawks. The power play, which Gostisbehere dynamically quarterbacks, is 1 for 6 without him. And despite the defense's gritty effort Thursday in St. Louis, resulting in a 2-0 win over the red-hot Blues, the Flyers desperately need Gostisbehere's presence.
Not only for his offense and improved defensive approach, but also for the experience in just his third season. The Flyers suited up four rookies Thursday because of injuries decimating the blue line. With Andrew MacDonald (injured reserve, lower body) and Radko Gudas (day to day, upper body) out, Gostisbehere suddenly becomes the Flyers' defenseman with the most NHL games under his belt at 153, a few more than Brandon Manning's 151.
Now, the Flyers should have a critical piece back — baby steps to getting healthy again.
Gudas did not partake in the morning skate and it looks like he'll miss his second straight game.
Rookie center Nolan Patrick, on the other hand, participated, albeit in a yellow jersey while the rest of the team did so in the usual orange and black practice getups. Patrick, out since Oct. 26 with an upper-body injury and now on IR, did not do much during the skate and departed before it finished.
Get the Weal rollin'
Forward Jordan Weal, a true rink rat, was one of the last off the ice, as usual.
He prides himself on preparation.
"It's the mindset of making sure everything is fine-tuned for when you get to the game, the little plays that you need to make out there, making sure coming off the wall, taking pucks off the boards, that you're feeling comfortable with everything," Weal said. "I've been doing that for a long time. I guess it's a part of the DNA, as well, because I think the more time you put into something, it becomes habit, you don't have to think about it as much. When you don't have to think about the little things out there as much, you can worry about making plays and creating chances for yourself and your line."
His line now consists of Jori Lehtera and Dale Weise, the team's third unit.
Weal likes the group and will be counted on to make plays.
"Both big bodies, both guys that have had a lot of success in the NHL," Weal said. "We're really moving our feet together well and creating chances and opportunities for ourselves. That's what we've got to do."
After putting up four points in his first five games, Weal has only one in the past seven. His secondary scoring is important to the Flyers. If he can get things going alongside Lehtera and Weise, two players that have been healthy scratches this season, the Flyers will take it.
"I knew playing with him down there, I think our whole D core, we had such a good D core that I don't even know if you could tell who was the first pairing and the third pairing, that's just how deep we were. I think anyone could have easily been up here or got called up. I'm not surprised at all that he's up here and doing well."
- Travis Sanheim on Mark Alt, teammates at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley last season
"He's got the scoring touch, he's always had it. The puck is just going in for him now. He's a really smart player, so he's good at finding ways to get open, finding the open area … make sure you don't tell him I said he's smart."
- Claude Giroux on Sean Couturier
"It's amazing some of the things that he's able to do at that young of an age, yet he's wired in that way."
- Hakstol on 20-year-old Ivan Provorov
Here is the projected lineup for the Flyers:
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Travis Konecny-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Jordan Weal-Jori Lehtera-Dale Weise
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim-Mark Alt
Scratches: Forward Matt Read (healthy), and defensemen Radko Gudas (upper body) and Will O'Neill (healthy).