Flyers

Nolan Patrick injury update: Flyers' 2C out 7-10 days with upper-body injury

Nolan Patrick injury update: Flyers' 2C out 7-10 days with upper-body injury

Nolan Patrick will miss approximately seven to 10 days with an upper-body injury, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said Thursday afternoon.

Patrick left the Flyers' 7-4 win over the Senators on Wednesday night in the first period after a routine, legal check by Ottawa's Mark Stone. Patrick went shoulder-first into the boards but his head appeared to whip back.

While the Flyers did not use the C-word, one has to wonder if the "upper-body injury" is a concussion, especially considering Patrick suffered one last October. The Flyers, like other NHL teams, refuse to be fully transparent when it comes to injuries.

If you recall, Patrick's concussion last season occurred when Ducks winger Chris Wagner checked him into the boards. It wasn't a vicious hit by any means, just like the one that happened Wednesday in Ottawa.

To be fair, though, Patrick's "upper-body injury" could be something other than a concussion. He was officially listed as "day to day" last season with his concussion and the Flyers did give a specific timeline Thursday, so that could be a sign it may not be a concussion.

This is the problem with the "upper-body" and "lower-body" designations.

Patrick played just 3 minutes and 30 seconds Wednesday and also took a stick up high. He has yet to record a point and is a minus-5 in four games this season but has been locked in as the Flyers' second-line center.

With the seven-to-10-day diagnosis, though, the Flyers dodged a bullet. Losing Patrick for any significant time period with James van Riemsdyk already out would have been a major blow to the Flyers' forward group.

The Flyers have four games scheduled between now and the next 10 days. At the minimum, he'll miss two games. With head injuries, though, it could linger.

In the meantime, the Flyers do have options to replace Patrick at 2C. Dave Hakstol could elevate Mikhail Vorobyev to the second line and have Jori Lehtera and Jordan Weal man the third-and-fourth-line centers in some capacity. The Flyers on Thursday also placed van Riemsdyk on injured reserve, according to CapFriendly.com, which opens the door for a potential call-up.

Scott Laughton has almost exclusively played left wing this season and preseason but can play center. And, of course, the Flyers could always move Claude Giroux back in the middle.

Still, losing Patrick hurts the Flyers in the short term. If the "upper-body injury" doesn't linger, though, they should be able to weather this storm.

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Flyers should see a few (special) things a bit more clearly ... or you would hope

Flyers should see a few (special) things a bit more clearly ... or you would hope

BOX SCORE

The Flyers had played pretty darn well leading into Tuesday night, the middle point of their five-game homestand.

They were 5-0-1 over the past six games and made a dent in evening out their lopsided goal differential by outscoring the opposition 25-14 during that stretch.

If you recall, prior to then, the Flyers were surrendering the NHL's most goals at 46 through 11 games, a 4-7-0 start flooding with concerns.

Nothing was overly concerning about the Flyers' 2-1 loss Tuesday to the Panthers. They made a dominant charge in the third period to nearly erase a two-goal deficit and extend their point streak to seven games (see observations).

It didn't happen, but the Flyers will take that closing effort any night.

However, a worrisome area that has stuck out like a sore thumb didn't get better.

Special teams.

And that's concerning no matter how much the Flyers have swung things in the right direction.

The Flyers should have a few takeaways from Tuesday.

On one front, Scott Laughton has become a prime example of how the team's penalty kill can dig itself out from a ranking of 30th in the NHL. The quick and scrappy forward should lead a clinic at practice one day. 

The Flyers allowed a power-play goal Tuesday in three shorthanded opportunities, but Laughton was superb in the way he attacks puck carriers and forces the opposition into its decisions instead of sitting back and allowing it to freely roam.

If the Flyers collectively utilized Laughton's mindset and aggressiveness on the penalty kill, they'd be in much better shape than 19 power-play goals against, tied for worst in the NHL.

On another front, the Flyers left Tuesday knowing their power play is still in trouble. The team went on just one man-advantage opportunity and the first unit couldn't get the puck into the offensive zone, while the second group couldn't salvage it.

"We had one power play and we just couldn't get set up," Claude Giroux said. "I don't want to judge the power play off of only one power play, but we definitely need to be better, especially if we have only one power play."

The man advantage was not a perceived weakness entering 2018-19. Since Oct. 13, the Flyers' power play is 3 for 39, worst in the NHL. Overall, it ranks 28th on the season at 13.6 percent.

The Flyers have tried plenty to light a spark, even taking mainstays Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek off the top unit to bump up Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick. Still, nothing has budged and the Flyers look desperate for James van Riemsdyk's return (see story).

"It's going to turn around," Voracek said. "We have too many talented players not to have a good power play."

Voracek has a point. It should balance out, just like the Flyers' ugly start did. 

Right now, though, the special teams are not pretty and need to change.

Watching more of Laughton and getting back van Riemsdyk would be a start.

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Panthers 2, Flyers 1: Late push not enough as 6-game point streak ends

Panthers 2, Flyers 1: Late push not enough as 6-game point streak ends

BOX SCORE

The six-game point streak is over.

The Flyers tripped up at home Tuesday night for a 2-1 loss to the Panthers, giving them their first regulation defeat since that 6-1 nightmare against the Islanders on Oct. 27. 

Prior to this loss, which snapped a season-best three-game winning streak, the Flyers (9-8-1) had gone 5-0-1 after that forgettable clunker at the Wells Fargo Center. Since Oct. 30, they were tied for first in the NHL with a plus-11 goal differential.

Meanwhile, the Panthers (7-5-3) own the NHL's longest current win streak at five games.

• Facing just their second multi-goal deficit in the last seven games, the Flyers had the Panthers completely under siege in the third period. They came hard and you certainly can't fault their effort trying to rally.

The Flyers created their chances and outshot the Panthers 16-6 in the final stanza but couldn't find the equalizer to push things past regulation.

• Oskar Lindblom started the third-period onslaught with a pretty cross-ice feed to Jakub Voracek, who brought the Flyers within 2-1 just 3:55 into the frame.

Lindblom, only 22 and in his first full NHL season, has shown excellent passing ability alongside Voracek and Nolan Patrick. He has eight points in his last seven games and has turned into one of the Flyers' biggest positives thus far.

• Despite earning 11 of a possible 14 points in their last seven games, the Flyers haven't gotten their power play going — a real surprise as it looked like it would be a strength entering 2018-19. It went 0 for 1 Tuesday and is 3 for 39 since Oct. 13, worst in the NHL.

The Flyers have made up for it with 41 goals at 5-on-5, second most in the NHL.

• It's scary to think where this penalty kill would be without Scott Laughton. He has been brilliant this season, especially when the Flyers are shorthanded. He's aggressive and attacks the puck carrier, making the opposition uncomfortable.

If the Flyers had more of his effort when down a man, their penalty kill wouldn't be ranked 30th in the league.

• Brian Elliott, who entered with a 1.68 goals-against average and .938 save percentage over his previous seven games, allowed his first goal since Nov. 1 against the Kings. Overall, he made a number of big saves and stopped 28 of 30 shots, including this one.

The second goal allowed could have been stopped as it was a clear shot from straightaway off the stick of Evgenii Dadonov in the second period. He'll want that one back and it proved to be a major difference.

• Ivan Provorov didn't have his best game. He had a pair of tripping penalties — one was in desperation to prevent a breakaway — and some of his passes didn't have that usual crispness you see when the 21-year-old moves the puck.

Provorov had been a plus-7 over the Flyers' past six games and seemed to be turning a corner. He rarely makes the same mistake twice, so consider this a rare hiccup.

• Following a stretch of eight points in his last three games, Claude Giroux went scoreless and still sits at 699 career points.

• The Flyers practice Wednesday in Voorhees, New Jersey, before hosting the Devils Thursday at 7 p.m. on NBCSP for Game 4 of their five-game homestand.

The Devils entered Tuesday having lost nine of their last 11 games.

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