VOORHEES, N.J. — With the rink still dimly lit, Ryan Ellis took to the ice an hour before his team's practice Monday at Flyers Training Center.
Kevin Hayes and Danny Briere followed shortly after. The full lights came on and Ellis went through rehab work with his teammate Hayes and the former Flyer Briere. As the team made its way to the ice for practice, Ellis, Hayes and Briere departed.
Ellis will miss his fifth straight game Tuesday when the Flyers host the Coyotes (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). The 30-year-old defenseman is dealing with a nagging lower-body injury. The issue appears to be to the hip/groin area. At one point, Ellis lifted his knee and stretched it outward as he and Briere discussed things over between a rep.
Ellis, the prized addition of the Flyers' active offseason, skated pretty well in his work with Hayes and Briere.
The top-pair blueliner was considered day to day over a week ago and went on the club's 2-1-0 Western Canada road trip. However, he did not play as the injury has prolonged.
"If I would have known prior to the road trip that he wasn't going to play, we wouldn't have brought him," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said after practice Monday. "We would have kept him here and have him do his rehab here instead of him going through the late nights, etc. We thought that there was a possibility, that's why we brought him. It didn't work out. It's taking a little bit longer than we anticipated. I said day to day last week, now obviously we're week to week. Hopefully he makes some strides here in the next couple of days and he's able to help us here in the near future."
Vigneault confirmed that Ellis is dealing with the same issue that kept him out for three consecutive practices after the club's preseason finale and prior to its regular-season opener. Ellis utilized the time for recovery and treatment.
"I just had a minor thing that was kind of flaring up," Ellis said Oct. 14 when he returned to practice. "It wasn't anything serious; it was just more precautionary than anything."
Ellis was able to play in the Flyers' first three contests and logged 24:09 minutes per game, four points (one goal, three assists) and a plus-3 rating.
"I'm sensing that him and our medical personnel are being a little extra careful because it is lingering over," Vigneault said. "Hopefully we can deal with this and take care of it once and for all and not hear about it anymore.
"It's taking a little longer to heal than [we] expected. When Ryan's ready to play, he's going to let us know because obviously he wants to play and help his teammates."
After Tuesday's game against Arizona at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers are scheduled to practice Wednesday before heading back on the road to face the Penguins on Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and the Capitals on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). Vigneault said if Ellis is unable to practice in full capacity Wednesday, he won't join the club on the trip.
"When you're missing a guy of his type of caliber, whether it's a forward or defenseman or goalie, it's a huge miss," Keith Yandle said. "It's just one of those things where everyone else needs to step up a little bit and try to fill the void as much as you can and hope that he can get back as quick as possible."
Ellis and Hayes are big pieces to the Flyers. Hayes is the team's second-line center when healthy. The 29-year-old is recovering from abdominal surgery. Like Ellis, Hayes also plays on the power play and penalty kill.
The Flyers placed Hayes on long-term injured reserve on Oct. 13, two days before their season opener. For a team to put a player on long-term injured reserve, the player must miss at least 10 games and 24 days of the season. Entering this week, the Flyers are 4-2-1 through seven games.
"I saw Kevin after practice, he's coming along real well," Vigneault said. "I'm thinking in the next few days here, he'll be joining the team for full practice."
Here's how the Flyers looked at Monday's practice, which is the lineup they're expected to roll with Tuesday against the Coyotes.
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Joel Farabee-Derick Brassard-Cam Atkinson
Oskar Lindblom-Scott Laughton-James van Riemsdyk
Nicolas Aube-Kubel-Nate Thompson-Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov-Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim-Rasmus Ristolainen
Keith Yandle-Nick Seeler
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