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Let's go play outside! ... without 6 key Flyers

/ by Jordan Hall
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The NHL's latest outdoor spectacle, one of the league's grandest events every season, will not feature some of the Flyers' top stars and one of the game's biggest faces over the last decade.

When the Flyers play the Bruins on Sunday in one of the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe games this weekend, they'll be without Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, Scott Laughton and Justin Braun. None of those players will travel with the club to Stateline, Nevada, because of COVID protocols.

The Flyers are coming off their NHL-mandated seven-day shutdown but are largely still feeling the effects of it. Amid their two-game set Feb. 7-9 in Washington, D.C., the Flyers ended up experiencing at least more than one coronavirus case within their team, which forced the club's lockdown and postponement of the second game against the Capitals.

Head coach Alain Vigneault confirmed this week that Claude Giroux tested positive Feb. 9, the day of the scheduled game, which triggered the postponement. Giroux and Justin Braun were added to the NHL's COVID protocol list that night and had to stay in Washington, D.C., while the team traveled home in the afternoon.

Entering Thursday, the Flyers have had seven players on the NHL’s COVID protocol list for each of the last six days. Giroux, Voracek, Konecny, Lindblom, Laughton, Braun and Morgan Frost (already on injured reserve) were all on Wednesday night's list.

 

Giroux and Braun have remained on the COVID protocol list since Feb. 9. Voracek and Frost were added Feb. 11, Lindblom and Laughton went on Feb. 12 and Konecny was the most recent addition Feb. 14, when Travis Sanheim was removed from the list.

There are a number of contributing factors for why a player can be placed on the COVID protocol list. A player being out because of COVID protocol does not necessarily mean the player tested positive for the coronavirus.

Per league protocols, if a player tests positive for COVID-19, he must isolate for at least 10 days. Shayne Gostisbehere missed the Flyers' first six games after he had tested positive for COVID-19. The Flyers' six regulars that are out right now because of COVID protocol have not skated since Feb. 8. As time wore on, the chances of those six players playing at Lake Tahoe started to look bleak. Aside from what's first and foremost, which is their quarantine requirements (whether they tested positive or not) and how they're actually feeling/testing, getting those players cleared to fly and then play after such an ordeal and layoff seemed less and less realistic.

Giroux's ironman streak of 328 consecutive games played will come to an end Thursday, when the Flyers host the Rangers for their first game in 11 days (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). He has been one of the NHL's marquee players and ambassadors over the last 10-plus years. Since 2009-10 and heading into Thursday, Giroux had played in 858 of a possible 868 games and scored 799 points, ranking in the NHL's top six of both categories over that span.

The NHL is moving forward in its marquee event without Giroux and a slew of the Flyers' regulars. When the Flyers hit the ice on the outdoor rink in the scenic Lake Tahoe on Sunday to play the Bruins on NBC, Giroux, along with Voracek, Konecny, Lindblom, Laughton and Braun, will have to watch from home.

As they are doing so now, the Flyers will try to piece things together and make the best of it outside.

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