Flyers

Two physical players eager to end the wait for their Flyers debuts

Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Zack MacEwen and Rasmus Ristolainen are happy to no longer be waiting.

Two players with get-after-it styles on the ice have been tested in patience. If everything goes as planned, both appear set to make their Flyers debuts Wednesday night when the Flyers welcome the Bruins (7:30 p.m. ET/TNT).

MacEwen, who the Flyers claimed off of waivers from the Canucks six days ago, finally arrived to Philadelphia around midnight Tuesday. Coming from Vancouver, the 25-year-old winger had to await the approval of his U.S. visa.

"It gave me more time to pack, that's for sure," MacEwen said Tuesday. "I was just kind of in limbo there, waiting to see when it was going to get approved. Trying to stay ready physically and trying to wrap your head around what's ahead of you. It gave me a good amount of time to prepare and get ready."

After getting to his hotel at 12:30 a.m. ET, MacEwen was on the practice ice at Flyers Training Center around 11:45 a.m. ET following the off-ice medical and meeting prerequisites. He went over video work on the Flyers' system and his teammates gave him a hearty welcome with stick taps as he led post-practice stretches.

"For Zack, it was an eventful last 24 hours," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. "Finally got the visa, gets on a plane, gets checked medically this morning, he's on the ice with us for practice. Quick turnaround once we got the visa."

 

Vigneault said if MacEwen feels fine Wednesday morning, there's a "real good chance" he'll be in their lineup against Boston. Following Tuesday's practice, MacEwen said he felt ready to play Wednesday night.

"He looked good today, he looked as he was described by both [general manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant general manager Brent Flahr]," Vigneault said. "Big body that can skate. We obviously saw the big body today and we saw the skating part."

Max Willman, who had filled in on the Flyers' fourth line, was loaned to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley after practice. If MacEwen does in fact play Wednesday, he'll join Nate Thompson and Nicolas Aube-Kubel on the fourth line.

"My game is hard working, physical, direct," MacEwen said. "I like to be predictable in my game but play with energy and just try to play as hard as I can."

Ristolainen took part in his second straight practice and first contact one since suffering an upper-body injury during the Flyers' preseason finale on Oct. 8. On Tuesday, he was with his expected defensive partner Travis Sanheim. Ristolainen was sidelined for the Flyers' first two games (1-0-1) but participated in both of the morning skates.

When asked if he was going to play Wednesday, Ristolainen said he believed so as he smiled rather convincingly. Vigneault said the Flyers will see how Ristolainen feels Wednesday morning before their optional skate. The 6-foot-4 Finnish blueliner would come in for Nick Seeler. Ristolainen has been champing at the bit for his Flyers debut after the club traded for him in the offseason.

"I tried to get in there for the season opener but they told me no and I think it was the right move so we don't need to deal with this again," he said.

Ristolainen didn't love being a spectator for Monday night's game, which featured fights and tussles.

"I wanted to jump out of the press box to get in there," he said with a laugh, "but the boys did a good job, so it was fun to watch."

More: Three Flyers debuts as 'cream of the crop' Bruins provide early test for new look

Against the Bruins, Martin Jones will make his first start in net for the Flyers. As for Patrick Brown, the club's other waiver claim last week, Vigneault said he believed the 29-year-old center would be with the Flyers on Saturday. It's uncertain if he'll be in the lineup that night against the Panthers as the Flyers wrap up their season-opening four-game homestand (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). Brown has been on the COVID-19 protocol list since last Thursday.

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