Updated: Saturday at 12:20 p.m. ET
VOORHEES, N.J. — The bleakness of the Flyers' player availability situation isn't expected to improve much for the team's game Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center.
If the process remains consistent with the NHL's modified COVID protocol, Claude Giroux, Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim will miss the Flyers' matchup against the Sharks (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
A player who tests positive for the coronavirus and is fully vaccinated must remain out at least five days. If they have no symptoms or their symptoms are resolving, a player is permitted to return following five days as long as they have a negative lab-based RT-PCR test and the requirements adhere with local health laws.
Giroux and Provorov entered protocol Tuesday, which would make Saturday their fifth and final day of being out. Konecny and Sanheim were placed in protocol Wednesday.
Meanwhile, on the team's injury front, it appears Derick Brassard (hip) for now will be rejoining Sean Couturier (upper body), Ryan Ellis (lower body) and Nate Thompson (shoulder). After missing 15 of the previous 16 games, Brassard returned to the Flyers' decimated lineup Thursday in the lopsided 6-2 loss to the Penguins.
He missed practice Friday and Flyers interim head coach Mike Yeo said the veteran center is considered doubtful for Saturday and day to day moving forward.
"He's been dealing with a lingering issue," Yeo said. "We came back from this trip, he had been skating, he felt good. He went into the game last game and today he didn't feel good."
With recent call-up Gerry Mayhew (upper body) listed as day to day ahead of Thursday's game, the Flyers were down 10 players against Pittsburgh.
Along with Brassard, Cam Atkinson also missed practice Friday. However, his absence was for a maintenance day.
"He plays so hard, he's been giving so much," Yeo said. "It's been a bit of a stretch here with the number of guys that we've had out of the lineup. It's not just about who comes into the lineup, it's what you ask other guys to take on as far as extra responsibility, role and so on. He's been a warrior for us and he'll be in the lineup tomorrow and he'll be ready to go."
Mayhew practiced Friday and could be the new forward to enter the lineup for Brassard.
Joel Farabee-Scott Laughton-Cam Atkinson
James van Riemsdyk-Kevin Hayes-Max Willman
Oskar Lindblom-Morgan Frost-Gerry Mayhew
Jackson Cates-Patrick Brown-Zack MacEwen
Meanwhile, defenseman Nick Seeler and forward Jackson Cates may also be available. Both depth pieces entered COVID protocol Monday, which means they'll have the chance to exit protocol Saturday.
"I know that Seeler and Cates were testing today," Yeo said. "I'm not 100 percent sure if that means that they're cleared tomorrow with a negative test. We basically went into the day today with this group — with [Atkinson] in addition — assuming that this will be our lineup. If we get news that they are available tomorrow, then obviously we could make a change there if we need to."
Martin Jones will start in net for the Flyers, who are 13-15-6 overall and in desperate need of a win. They've lost four straight (0-3-1) and are starting to fight frustration again.
"You have nine, 10 guys out, six guys in protocol," Scott Laughton said Thursday after the Flyers' loss. "It's a tough league to win that way."
Jones is set to face his former club. In the offseason, he had the final three years of his contract bought out by the Sharks.
Carter Hart started for the Flyers on Tuesday and Thursday. He allowed six goals on 32 shots against the Penguins, who won their 10th in a row. Hart was not a big problem. Regardless, the Flyers wanted Jones to get a crack at his old team.
"This is not about Hartsy and last game," Yeo said. "I don't think that we played nearly well enough in front of Hartsy to give him a chance. This was something that was in the plans for a while. Excited for Jonesy to get that opportunity."
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