The Flyers came into Thursday night with 16 games remaining in the regular season.
If James van Riemsdyk has a similar recovery to Scott Laughton's back in October and November, the Flyers will see the return of their goal-scoring winger near the tail end of the regular season or at the beginning of the playoffs if the team clinches a berth.
The 30-year-old van Riemsdyk suffered a fracture to his right index finger during the first period of the Flyers' 5-2 win Wednesday night over the Capitals. Prior to Thursday night's game against the Hurricanes, head coach Alain Vigneault said van Riemsdyk's fracture is similar to the one Laughton sustained earlier in the season.
“I think [van Riemsdyk is] getting a second opinion, but my understanding was it’s the same type of fracture as Scotty Laughton had," Vigneault said. "Usually with fractures, when you’re talking about fractures, you’re talking about four to six weeks. That’s usually the case.”
In Laughton's case, the 25-year-old forward missed 13 games with his broken finger. He suffered the fracture Oct. 26, underwent surgery Oct. 30 and returned to game action Nov. 23. That's a span of four weeks (28 days).
Including Thursday, the Flyers have 31 days left in the regular season. The Flyers wrap up their schedule April 4 against the Sabres. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are scheduled to begin April 8.
JVR had been a versatile player for the Flyers. He was playing up and down the lineup, recording 19 goals and 40 points. With his size and skill, van Riemsdyk helps the Flyers play their possession-based game, while the team has gone 22-5-0 when he records a point.
Without van Riemsdyk, 20-year-old rookie winger Joel Farabee will jump into the lineup and join the Flyers' top six. Laughton will slide to the third line and newcomer Derek Grant will take on van Riemsdyk's power play responsibilities.
“I feel that Joel’s got that top-six upside," Vigneault said. "If you want a player to have success, you’ve got to put him in the right role and I think he’s got that potential.”
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Joel Farabee-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
Scott Laughton-Derek Grant-Tyler Pitlick
Michael Raffl-Nate Thompson-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
The Flyers came into Thursday on a 17-5-1 spurt since Jan. 8, a stretch in which they've led the NHL with 3.78 goals per game.
Farabee, a 2018 first-round pick, has the offensive package to keep the Flyers rolling.
“We’ve got a lot of faith and confidence in him," Vigneault said. "It’s just another opportunity for guys to come in and play well.
“Since Day 1 this year, from Nolan Patrick not being here at the beginning to then losing Oskar [Lindblom], to on and on and on — we’ve had our share of injuries. Next man up and we’ve got to find a way to win games.”
According to Hockey-Reference.com, the Flyers entered Thursday with a 99.1 percent chance to make the playoffs and 31.4 percent chance to win the Metropolitan Division.
The road doesn't get easier for the Flyers, but van Riemsdyk could return when it matters most.
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