Flyers

The unknown remains with Nolan Patrick's recovery from migraine disorder

The unknown remains with Nolan Patrick's recovery from migraine disorder

VOORHEES, N.J. — When the Flyers announced on Sept. 26 that Nolan Patrick had been diagnosed with a migraine disorder, there was a lot of unknown.

“We're hopeful,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said that night at Madison Square Garden (see story).

The healing process of a broken bone or strained muscle is predictable.

It’s awfully difficult to forecast a recovery timeline with issues as complex as head injuries.

Unfortunately for Patrick and the Flyers, the unknown still surrounds his potential return. The 21-year-old center remains week to week after missing the season’s opening month.

“There’s no change in his status,” Fletcher said Thursday following practice at Flyers Skate Zone. “We just continue to work with him and hope that he continues to improve."

During training camp and the preseason, Patrick did solo on-ice work. He improved enough to start taking part in team practices and morning skates while wearing a non-contact jersey. However, he did not practice Thursday.

“If he gets closer to day to day, then he’d probably be in full contact practice,” Fletcher said. “So at this point, we’re still in the process and working with him. That’s about all I can say."

When asked if he wouldn’t be shocked if Patrick didn’t play at all this season, Fletcher said:

I can’t speculate on that. I’m an optimist. I can tell you he’s a really important part of our team. You look at our situation now, we have two centermen, two key players on our team that are out. Nolan’s a player who will help us win a lot of hockey games when he gets back. We’re hopeful. It’s a tough situation. Again, I won’t speculate because I can’t. I can’t predict what will happen.

The Flyers on Thursday placed forward Scott Laughton (broken finger) on long-term injured reserve, which provides the team salary cap relief. Laughton was recently playing winger but opened the season at third-line center in place of Patrick. With both sidelined, the Flyers are short down the middle. As a result, Claude Giroux has played center the last five games when he has shown over the past two seasons that he is more productive playing on the first-line left wing.

“With Nolan’s situation, obviously, there’s more ambiguity I guess,” Fletcher said. “It would be hard for any human being to predict when that will all come together for him.

“With Scotty Laughton, he had surgery, the surgery was successful. It’s typically a four-week process. Doctors said it would be three to four weeks from [Wednesday], which would put him at 25 days from the date of the injury. And LTIR is 24, so that type of injury works well and it gives us some flexibility to maybe have a little more depth.”

If the Flyers severely lack depth and scoring at center moving forward, 20-year-old prospect Morgan Frost will be an option. After back-to-back 100-point seasons at the junior level, the playmaking center has six points in seven games with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. Adding a player the caliber of Frost would allow Giroux to play left winger and Kevin Hayes to slide back up into a top-six center role.

But Fletcher and the Flyers don’t sound like they are there yet.

However, things can change quickly as we’ve seen a month into the season (see story).

“I would say there are some big swings in his performance right now,” Fletcher said of Frost.

“I think that’s very, very typical for a 20-year-old player, first-year pro. There are big swings. They’re not consistent performers at the pro level yet. You’re trying to break some of their habits. His talent level speaks for itself. In terms of pace and puck management, playing without the puck, zone awareness and coverage, right now there are areas he needs to get better at it. He’s made some progress, so we’ll continue to allow him to develop down there. 

“But certainly at some point, he’s a smart, talented hockey player — he’s going to get better at it. When he does, it will make him a better candidate to come up here.’’

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Flyers at Avalanche: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Avalanche: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

As one of the NHL's best teams since Nov. 1 (12-3-4, 28 points), the Flyers now face a new challenge.

Alain Vigneault's undermanned group begins a three-game road trip Wednesday as the Flyers (17-8-5) visit the Avalanche (19-8-3).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: Pepsi Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Network
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers are without Travis Konecny (concussion, out indefinitely), Oskar Lindblom (upper body, out tonight), Philippe Myers (back spasms, day to day), Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger, out approximately four weeks) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder, out indefinitely).

"Injuries are a part of a season. You have to expect it," Vigneault said Monday. "Then you need somebody else to step up."

More than ever this season, the Flyers will be looking to Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes and James van Riemsdyk to produce among the forwards.

The Flyers are 10-2-1 when Hayes records a point and 9-1-0 when van Riemsdyk records a point.

• Not only are the Flyers severely shorthanded Wednesday night, but they're also facing the NHL's highest-scoring club. The Avalanche lead the league with 3.70 goals per game. Their top line of Nathan MacKinnon (47 points in 30 games), Mikko Rantanen (18 points in 14 games) and Gabriel Landeskog (nine points in 14 games) is scary.

"We know going into Colorado, we're going to have to be careful versus their top unit," Vigneault said Tuesday. "[Monday] night, they seemed to load up. That's one of the best lines in hockey."

• Carter Hart will face the Avalanche for the first time in his career.

The 21-year-old goalie is 8-2-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .928 save percentage over his last 12 starts.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Morgan Frost-Tyler Pitlick
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Joel Farabee
David Kase-Mikhail Vorobyev-Chris Stewart

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

 

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With Oskar Lindblom injury, Flyers call up prospect David Kase from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms

With Oskar Lindblom injury, Flyers call up prospect David Kase from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Updated: 2:08 p.m.

This is not how the Flyers wanted to open their three-game road trip.

Playing against the NHL's highest-scoring team Wednesday night, the Flyers will be without their two leading goal-scorers Travis Konecny (concussion) and Oskar Lindblom (upper body).

The Flyers knew on Monday they would not have the services of Konecny. Lindblom was added to the list of injuries Wednesday afternoon.

Konecny and Lindblom have a team-high 11 goals apiece. The 22-year-old Konecny leads the Flyers with 28 points, while the 23-year-old Lindblom is projected to finish with 30 goals after a promising rookie season in which he scored 17. The Flyers are also without forwards Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger, out approximately four weeks) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder, out indefinitely).

Earlier in the morning, the Flyers called up David Kase from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. He will now make his NHL debut tonight against the Avalanche (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN).

Kase, 22, is a smaller (5-10/168) but quick, hard-working winger who has six points (three goals, three assists) in 21 games with the Phantoms. The 2015 fifth-round pick is constantly active with his bursts of speed and quality skill.

Originally, it was unlikely he would play without any practice. However, the Flyers need him, hence why he was summoned to Denver this morning. After they play Colorado, the Flyers visit the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and the Jets on Sunday (5 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

The Flyers had the roster space and cap space for another forward. Lindblom missed Monday's skills practice for maintenance but practiced Tuesday. Joel Farabee also sat out Monday after getting his wisdom teeth taken out but practiced Tuesday and said he's good to go.

When Lindblom returns, Kase, Chris Stewart or Mikhail Vorobyev will serve as the Flyers' lone extra forward.

Kase becomes the ninth rookie to play for the Flyers this season. Alain Vigneault's team is 12-3-4 with 28 points since Nov. 1, tied for most in the NHL.

Here are the projected forward lines for tonight, according to Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Charlie O'Connor of The Athletic:

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Morgan Frost-Tyler Pitlick
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Joel Farabee
David Kase-Mikhail Vorobyev-Chris Stewart

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