VOORHEES, N.J. — Within minutes of the start of Friday’s practice, the Flyers had lost another forward to an apparent injury.
Travis Konecny left the ice grimacing in pain after taking a shot to the inside of his skate. Konecny skated slowly to the bench, where trainer Jim McCrossin tended to him, before attempting to skate and participate in drills. Moments later, Konecny left practice and went inside the dressing room. The Flyers had no medical update on the right winger or his availability for Saturday afternoon’s game against Vegas.
The Flyers are already making up for the loss of left winger James van Riemsdyk and most recently second-line center Nolan Patrick, who is scheduled to miss seven to 10 days with an upper-body injury. General manager Ron Hextall knows the Flyers won’t receive any league-wide sympathy.
“Look at Anaheim, they've got a pretty good record and they’ve got a few guys down,” Hextall said. “We’re not going to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves. We have more depth right now than I think we’ve had in the past. The guys now will go into a little bit more significant positions and have to produce.”
While not specifically singling out one player, Hextall could have easily alluded to Jordan Weal, as he stepped into Patrick’s position centering Oskar Lindblom and Konecny — a line that might change by Saturday depending on Konecny’s status.
Regardless, the opportunity is one that wouldn’t have existed for Weal, who was a healthy scratch Wednesday in Ottawa in favor of Dale Weise. Weal was provided every opportunity to become a top-nine forward throughout the preseason, but never had a moment in which he seized that role. With the loss of JVR, Tuesday’s home opener marked Weal’s season debut as he played a team-low 9:45.
Now Dave Hakstol needs Weal out of necessity as the Flyers' injury situation at forward this season is already starting to look a lot like what plagued their defense last season. A year ago, the Flyers utilized 10 different defensemen in the first 14 games of the season.
Coming into the season, the forward position was one of strength and depth for the Flyers, an area that is being tested just five games into the season.
“We have 12 forwards right now and that’s what we’re going with,” Hextall said. “These guys are here for a reason, and sometimes if the fit isn’t right, that’s why you do call someone up, but right now the fit’s right so we’re going to go with the 12 that we have.”
Injured forward Corban Knight continues to practice with the team but said it’s now up to the front office to determine if he’s ready. Hextall believes Knight is getting close but still needs a little more practice time and physical contact before he can play in a game.
If Konecny can’t play Saturday and Knight is unavailable, the Flyers would have no choice but to pluck someone off the Phantoms' roster, whether that’s Taylor Leier, Nicolas Aube-Kubel or Tyrell Goulbourne.
“That’s the bottom line," Hextall said. "We’re a team. We’re going to stick together and we’re going to get through it.”