VOORHEES, N.J. — With three days before their next game, the Flyers held a skills practice Sunday.
Ryan Ellis and Kevin Hayes, both recovering from injuries, participated and then stayed on the ice for extra work with assistant coach Mike Yeo and skills coach Angelo Ricci. In total, they were on the ice for an hour.
A skills practice is non-contact, but afterward, Hayes and Ellis exerted themselves fervently from a conditioning standpoint. Head of strength and conditioning Dan Warnke looked on as he tracked their fitness levels.
The return dates for both Ellis (lower body) and Hayes (abdominal) remain uncertain. The Flyers next play Wednesday when they host the Maple Leafs (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
Ellis is dealing with a nagging issue that could be to the hip/groin area. His original day-to-day status has lingered into the top-pair defenseman missing the club's last seven games. The Flyers have gone 4-2-1 in his absence.
The Flyers are off Monday and practice Tuesday before welcoming Toronto. If Ellis practices Tuesday, it'll be a good sign for his chances of returning Wednesday.
"You guys got a chance to see him out there pushing it," Yeo said Sunday. "That's by far the most that he's been able to do. And even just talking to him, he felt really good. Obviously the next step would be getting cleared medically and making sure that conditioning-wise and everything is back to where we need it to be. Certainly today was the most promising day, especially that I've seen, but for him to get the workload that he got in."
Ellis was the prized acquisition of the Flyers' busy offseason on the heels of the team's disappointing 2020-21 campaign. In the Flyers' 2-0-1 start, Ellis recorded 24:09 minutes per game, four points (one goal, three assists) and a plus-3 rating.
"For me, you want your defensemen to play in control — and he is always managing the game the right way," Yeo, who oversees the Flyers' defensemen and penalty kill, said. "Understanding when there's a time and a place where you need to make a skilled play, make a play to the middle of the ice, allow you to have a strong exit maybe with control. And there are other times where you just need to relieve pressure, you need to get a puck out. He consistently makes those reads over and over again.
"The defensive poise that he has, both with and without the puck, whether you're up 1-nothing late in a game or early in the game or regardless of who you're playing against, he's a guy that brings that consistency every night. That's what makes him so solid."
Hayes will be eligible to come off of long-term injured reserve Wednesday but appears unlikely to come back yet. The second-line center had his second type of abdominal surgery Sept. 21, two days before the start of training camp. He has not yet practiced fully with the club.
"I'm hoping that soon he'll be cleared to have full practice with us and then it's a matter of is it four, five, six, seven full practices?" Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Wednesday. "I'm not quite sure."
Vigneault was not available to the media Sunday. He does not take the ice for skills practices.
Similar to Ellis, Hayes plays on the Flyers' penalty kill and power play units.
"He's doing really well," Yeo said. "It's great to see him back. He adds so much to our group. For him to be with us on the road last trip, I thought that that was really important, both for him and for our group — even for the coaching staff. He's a guy that just makes it fun to come to the rink.
"Now to see him getting closer to returning; guys have done an outstanding job stepping up in his place, but obviously when we get a player of that caliber back, what he's going to bring to our group — the locker room side of stuff and his play once on the ice is going to make us a much stronger team, as well. Very excited to see him getting closer and really excited to see him get into his first game."
The Flyers are 6-2-2 through 10 games.
"Guys are stepping up," Justin Braun said Sunday. "Those guys are world-class players, but I think everyone in their new roles has done a really good job. That's what you want to have. When it's a long season, guys are going to be in and out all year, that guys can step in and do a good job."
Travis Konecny, Joel Farabee and Nick Seeler were not on the ice for Sunday's skills practice.
Seeler was loaned to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. The move very well may be a paper transaction and the depth defenseman could be back at practice Tuesday.
Konecny and Farabee were out for maintenance days.
Derick Brassard was fined $2,000 on Sunday for unsportsmanlike conduct in the Flyers' 2-1 win last night over the Capitals.
From the Flyers' bench, Brassard bopped Washington forward Garnet Hathaway. The Flyers' center was whistled for interference.
His $2,000 fine goes to the players' emergency assistance fund.
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