VOORHEES, N.J. — There was a different energy at Flyers practice Wednesday.
A closer-to-full energy.
Three more players exited the NHL's COVID protocol and rejoined the team for its third straight practice.
When the Flyers face the Bruins in Boston on Thursday (7 p.m. ET/ESPN), they'll have Claude Giroux, Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim back in the lineup.
Provorov, Konecny and Justin Braun returned from COVID protocol Wednesday at Flyers Training Center. Braun entered protocol Monday and didn't miss any games.
Giroux came out of protocol Tuesday and Sanheim did so Monday. Giroux and Provorov missed the last three games, while Konecny and Sanheim were out for the last two.
"Great news," Flyers interim head coach Mike Yeo said of Provorov, Konecny and Braun returning. "Obviously you get three players of that caliber, the importance that they have to our group in the roles that they play, definitely you could see a big boost to the energy level in practice today.
"It was really nice to see those guys, really nice to have them back in practice and with the group."
The Flyers valued the extra practice time with the postponement of Tuesday's game against the Hurricanes. Yeo's club has found itself on the brink of another dangerous spiral. The Flyers have lost five straight (0-3-2), a stretch marred by illness and injuries. The Flyers have to work their way out of it. They're hoping the practice time and reinforcements help do the trick.
The Flyers are 13-15-7 through 35 games. The Bruins are 19-11-2 and play their 33rd game tonight before welcoming the Flyers. Boston currently holds the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and has gone 5-1-0 since the holiday break.
"We haven't had this opportunity to have quality practice time like this," Yeo said. "I feel like we're well-prepared. Obviously that's still a real good challenge, going in and playing against that team. They've been on top of their game. When you look at the quality of players that they have, the type of game that they play, it's always a real challenge.
"But I feel really good about a lot of the things that we touched on this week. To have the opportunity to get those reps. It's one thing to get into games and try to build habits in games, but say it's an individual player on a neutral-zone forecheck or a rush-against sort out, he might see one of those scenarios in a game. Where you have practice like this week where you can get that player multiple, multiple reps, you have a better chance of building habits.
"I believe that we had a good week of practice, I believe that our guys are going to be ready to compete. We have to be ready for a hard game, but I expect we will."
Don't expect the Flyers to ease in the players returning from COVID protocol. They simply don't have the luxury of doing so. They desperately need a win to push things back in the other direction. Giroux, Provorov, Konecny and Sanheim are likely going to be relied upon as they normally would. Plus, the Flyers don't have Rasmus Ristolainen (COVID protocol), Sean Couturier (upper body), Derick Brassard (hip), Ryan Ellis (lower body), Patrick Brown (MCL sprain) and Nate Thompson (shoulder).
"They've got a lot of skilled players, they've got a lot of speed, they play a very, very complete game over there," Yeo said. "If those players that are coming back, if they're capable of playing the minutes, then we're going to give them that opportunity."
Provorov and Sanheim will make their returns on the top defensive pair together.
"Sanny and I have played together before," Provorov said. "My third year, Sanny's second year, we pretty much spent, I would say, 75 percent of the season together. I think it worked well, I think we moved the puck pretty good."
Carter Hart will start in net for the Flyers. Here's how the Flyers looked at practice Wednesday and what is expected to be their lineup for Thursday:
Joel Farabee-Claude Giroux-Cam Atkinson
James van Riemsdyk-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
Jackson Cates-Scott Laughton-Oskar Lindblom
Max Willman-Morgan Frost-Zack MacEwen
Connor Bunnaman-Gerry Mayhew (extras)
Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim
Cam York-Justin Braun
Keith Yandle-Nick Seeler
Egor Zamula-Kevin Connauton (extras)
Kirill Ustimenko (extra)
Subscribe to and rate Flyers Talk