Flyers

End to End: Should we be concerned with Flyers' Nolan Patrick?

End to End: Should we be concerned with Flyers' Nolan Patrick?

Updated: 4:45 p.m.

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.

The question: Should there be concern over Nolan Patrick?

Dougherty
With the Flyers off today, we didn't expect an update on Patrick's status, but here we are. The Flyers revealed that Patrick will miss seven to 10 days with an "upper-body injury."

But it’s safe to speculate that Patrick could have a concussion. He left Wednesday’s game in Ottawa after this innocent collision where his head made contact with the boards.

Patrick suffered a concussion last season. It doesn’t take much to get one. But Patrick will be out seven to 10 days, which is a very specific timeline. That could mean it's another "upper-body injury" for Patrick, who was also whacked with a high stick in the first period Wednesday. Still, we won't know exactly what his “upper-body injury” is because being transparent about injuries isn’t in the Flyers’ nature. Losing Patrick for any significant time period would be devastating.

Already without James van Riemsdyk, the Flyers’ forward group is basically the same as last season except for Mikhail Vorobyev replacing Valtteri Filppula as the third-line center. Take Patrick out of the equation and the Flyers are in deep trouble.

The 20-year-old hasn’t found the scoresheet yet this season, but he’s shown flashes. I haven’t been discouraged by his play. Slow start, sure, but that’s it. But without him, the Flyers’ center group is depleted. If Patrick is out for a lengthy period, moving Claude Giroux back to the middle would likely be the team’s best card to play.

And that’s not ideal, either, because the top line finally clicked Wednesday.

Hall
We had to wait and see about the severity of Patrick's upper-body injury suffered in the first period of Wednesday night's 7-4 win over the Senators.

It could have been a possible concussion as head trainer Jim McCrossin was examining the area of Patrick's head on the bench. Patrick missed nine games last season because of a concussion, so there's a recent history there.

As for Patrick's somewhat slow start, don't be too concerned. In our Fearless Forecast predictions piece, I wrote how Patrick has more of a steady growth to his game than one crazy jump. Patrick just turned 20 years old last month and he's going to get more comfortable in the NHL, but that could still be developing.

Here's what his uncle James Patrick said to NBC Sports Philadelphia in June 2017.

He almost always wants to be comfortable and then he really starts to exert himself. I felt like every playoff round in three years that he played with Brandon, the first game it was always like, 'Come on, let's get going.' He had to feel out who's good on their team, who he might be intimidated by, whatever, and then by Game 4, he was the best player on the ice. 

It's almost like, 'OK, I have to feel it out first,' but then, 'OK, now I know what this guy is about, now I'm going to run him, I'm going to play hard, I'm going to be hard on him.' He will play that way.

He's just always been when he feels comfortable, then he starts to really excel.

So, Patrick might be a natural slow starter.

Is his production worth watching? Absolutely, but I wouldn't be overly concerned with zero points through three games and 3:30 of a period thus far. 

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2020 NHL playoffs: Phase 2 date set in plan to resume season

2020 NHL playoffs: Phase 2 date set in plan to resume season

The NHL has targeted Monday of next week as the start of Phase 2 in its plan to resume and finish the season.

Phase 2 permits players to return to team practice facilities for voluntary small-group individualized training activities, whether it be on or off the ice.

Below is a statement Thursday night from the NHL:

Beginning June 8 — subject to each club’s satisfaction of all of the requirements set out in the Phase 2 Protocol — clubs will be permitted to reopen their training facilities in their home city to allow players to participate in individualized training activities (off-ice and on-ice). Players will be participating on a voluntary basis and will be scheduled to small groups (i.e., a maximum of six players at any one time, plus a limited number of club staff). The various measures set out in the Phase 2 protocol are intended to provide players with a safe and controlled environment in which to resume their conditioning. Phase 2 is not a substitute for training camp.

All necessary preparations for Phase 2, including those that require player participation (education, diagnostic testing, scheduling for medicals, etc.), can begin immediately. The NHL and the NHLPA continue to negotiate over an agreement on the resumption of play.

Here is the NHL's detailed protocol for Phase 2. Phase 3 (mandatory team training camps) won't happen before July 10, which means the implementation of Phase 4 (resuming play) can occur at the earliest late July, with the beginning of August an option.

The NHL on Thursday also announced further details on the 24-team return-to-play format, which looks good for the fourth-seeded Flyers.

Players and permitted personnel returning to Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, could be an important step toward the club finishing its 2019-20 resurgence.

"This is obviously something a little different, but we’ve got a lot of experience," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said in late April. "I’m very confident that we can get something together that’s going to be very efficient for the players, very efficient to get our team ready and hopefully that’s what happens.”

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2020 NHL playoffs: Flyers' chances look even better now in 24-team format

2020 NHL playoffs: Flyers' chances look even better now in 24-team format

The Flyers' outlook for the NHL's 24-team return-to-play format appeared to improve Thursday.

The 2020 playoffs will consist of reseeding after every round instead of a bracket style. The NHL and NHLPA also agreed that each round will feature best-of-seven series following the best-of-five qualifying round.

How is this a good thing for the Flyers? As the fourth and final seed in the round-robin tournament, they can only improve their standing, which we already knew. The Flyers have a chance to climb as high as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and can't fall any lower than their current spot at No. 4.

But the reward of being the No. 1 seed was uncertain as the league was still determining the whole reseed vs. bracket dilemma. On paper, the top seed would not have been as attractive in a bracket format given it would face the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchup no matter what. Now, the No. 1 seed will face the lowest remaining seed to prevail after the qualifying round. So say the 12th-seeded Canadiens upset the fifth-seeded Penguins, the top seed will face Montreal. Whereas in a bracket style, the fourth-seeded club would have benefitted from such a situation by facing the lowest-seeded Canadiens, while the No. 1 seed would face a No. 8 or No. 9 seed.

The Flyers are truly in a no-lose situation. They already have their bye and getting the No. 1 seed means a better matchup now. If the Flyers do well in the round-robin tournament, they climb. If they struggle, they stay put. Not a bad spot at all. And there's no reason they should dislike their chances against the Bruins, Lightning and Capitals.

The bracket style would have made for more parity and drama, particularly in a betting aspect. But the league and its players have also stressed keeping the integrity of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Ultimately, the top seeds should be rewarded for their work in the regular season and be given the best possible matchups.

Here are the East's qualifying-round matchups and seed Nos. 1-12.

No. 8 Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Blue Jackets

No. 7 Islanders vs. No. 10 Panthers

No. 6 Hurricanes vs. No. 11 Rangers

No. 5 Penguins vs. No. 12 Canadiens

1. Bruins
2. Lightning
3. Capitals
4. Flyers
5. Penguins
6. Hurricanes
7. Islanders
8. Maple Leafs
9. Blue Jackets
10. Panthers
11. Rangers
12. Canadiens

For the timeline of a possible resumption and the decisions still to be made, click here.

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