Flyers hit by illness and COVID-related absences


The unordinary has become the ordinary for Mike Yeo since he suddenly took over the Flyers' head coaching duties on an interim status.

His Flyers had another eventful morning Saturday.

Prior to its morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center, the club found out Carter Hart is sick and will not be available for tonight's game against the Senators (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). When Yeo addressed the media at 11 a.m. ET following the Flyers' skate, he said the team was uncertain if Hart's illness was COVID-19 related or not.

As the Flyers hit the ice, Max Willman did not. The 26-year-old winger and a team staff member were placed in the NHL's COVID protocol. Morgan Frost was removed during the first period of Tuesday's game for COVID protocols and remains out. Yeo knew of Willman's impending absence on Friday night.

"Good teams rise up to these challenges," Yeo said. "You can point to any sport, you can look at our sport, there are teams out there that just when you sort of think their backs are against the wall and they're in a tough position, they find a way to come out and get the job done. That's what we want to become."

With Hart out, the Flyers will be calling up a goalie to back up Martin Jones against Ottawa.

"Some of this was sprung on us, I would say, not that long ago," Yeo said. "We're in the process of looking at a call-up and something will be announced later on."


Update, 2:17 p.m. ET — Flyers call up Felix Sandstrom on emergency conditions from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Hart has been playing well, going 2-0-1 with a 1.95 goals-against average and .946 save percentage in his last three starts.

"I wasn't here I guess when he went back, I'm not too sure what happened to be honest," Sean Couturier said after morning skate. "Hopefully he's fine."

More: 'It's creeping in a little' — Flyers have another COVID absence (and good news)

Willman, who was called up the day Yeo took over on Dec. 6, has two goals and an assist in the last four games.

The NHL on Saturday announced its enhanced measures to address the rising concerns over COVID-19. Five games that were originally scheduled for Saturday have been postponed as positive cases have increased within the league.

According to the NHL's COVID protocol document for the 2021-22 season, if a player tests as a confirmed positive but is asymptomatic, he will undergo daily lab-based RT-PCR tests. And if the player has two or more consecutive negative tests, he is eligible to exit his isolation and return as long as it adheres with local health laws.

If a player tests as a confirmed positive and is symptomatic, he must remain out for at least 10 days from when he originally felt symptoms, as well as at least 24 hours from his last fever.

After hosting the Senators, the Flyers welcome the Capitals on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/ESPN+, Hulu) and visit the Penguins on Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP+). Then, thanks in part to the NHL-mandated holiday break, the Flyers don't play again until Dec. 29.

In good news for the Flyers (11-12-5), Joel Farabee is set to return to the lineup against Ottawa. The 21-year-old winger missed the last seven games with a shoulder injury.

"Good timing," Yeo said. "Such a valuable player for us. We're not just going to ease him back in, we're going to throw him right up there with Coots and [Travis Konecny] here tonight. He has that ability to make plays and create offense for us, but also the way he thinks the game, plays without the puck. He's a guy that you feel comfortable going head to head against top players."

More: Needing a response, Flyers sport new top line with big return

In other health matters, Derick Brassard (hip) took part in morning skate. He will not return Saturday but seems to be progressing.

"I know that he had good day yesterday and to me he looked good out there," Yeo said.

"We still have a lot of guys out of the lineup, so any time we see some guys getting close to returning or guys coming back in, it's a huge plus for us."


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