NEW YORK — The Flyers’ roster merry-go-round continued Thursday night in Brooklyn.
Before the Flyers took on the Islanders at the Barclays Center, forward Michael Raffl (abdominal pull) was activated from injured reserve, center Boyd Gordon (upper body) was placed on IR and defenseman Andrew MacDonald (lower body) was ruled out for approximately a week.
MacDonald is suffering from a bruised/sprained knee, sources confirmed to CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio.
Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was unsure of the severity.
“We don’t know yet,” he said pregame Thursday. “[We’ll see] in a few days and go from there.”
Hextall expects defenseman Michael Del Zotto (left knee) to be activated Saturday off long-term injured reserve. Earlier in the day, forward Scott Laughton, currently on LTIR, was loaned to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley for a conditioning stint (see story). To create space and be cap compliant for the impending addition of Del Zotto, the Flyers can activate Laughton, return him to the Phantoms, but must still make a move — which could be placing MacDonald on LTIR.
“I don’t know yet,” Hextall said of the roster possibilities. “We’ll wait and see what happens tonight and we’ll go from there.
“I’m not going to get into hypotheticals because I don’t really know where it’s going to go with [Laughton] or somebody else, but we’ve got to make some space.”
Regardless, Del Zotto’s presence is welcomed for a team that entered Thursday allowing the NHL’s second-most goals per game at 3.55. Before sustaining a season-ending wrist injury last year, the 26-year-old played well alongside Shayne Gostisbehere and led the team in ice time (23:25).
“He’s a veteran guy,” Hextall said. “Obviously we’ve got two young guys playing back there, inexperienced guys. So he’s a veteran guy that skates well and moves the puck well. He’ll be a nice addition, for sure.”
“Everything is dictated on how you do. Michael comes back and plays well, he’s going to get more minutes.
“I would assume he’s going to play pretty big minutes, but he’s got to play well to dictate that.”
Raffl, who said he’s 100 percent healthy, missed eight games but quickly joined the Flyers’ top line in his return.
“He’s a big body that’s a straight-line presence,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “He’s going to go and do some of the dirty work in terms of puck possession and some of the down-low work along with that. He’s a guy that we need to go to the net and be around the blue paint.”
To make room in the lineup, Hakstol healthy-scratched Dale Weise. The right winger was signed to a four-year, $9.4 million deal this offseason but has one point through eight games and has now missed four contests (three to suspension, one for healthy scratch).
“He can play better,” Hextall said. “He can play better than he’s played.
“He’s probably sitting here thinking, ‘Where do I fit, what’s my role?’ It’s a new team, so sometimes there’s a little bit of a break-in period. I’m assuming that’s kind of what’s going on with him.”
Forward Brayden Schenn did not receive a suspension from the NHL Department of Player Safety for his hit Wednesday night on Brendan Smith.
“I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort of keeping my feet on the ice when I make hits, and I think I’ve done a good job of that,” Schenn said.
“A complete accident and I’m glad they viewed it the same way.”
Normally on the wing near the top of the Flyers’ lines, Schenn centered the team’s fourth unit against the Islanders.
“I can adjust,” he said. “Pretty much like a flip of a switch. It’s a comfortable position for me.
“You come to the rink and prepare to do your job. That’s all there really is to it.”
Meanwhile, Michal Neuvirth started in net over Steve Mason for the third straight game. Neuvirth has won his last two decisions to help the Flyers pick up back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
“My thought process is to win games and Neuvy, I wouldn’t say his last two 60-minute performances have been 100 percent clean, but they’ve been pretty good,” Hakstol said. “He’s made key saves at key times.
“It’s early in the year. We’ve got two good goaltenders and we’re going to need both guys playing well in order to be successful. Right now, Neuvy’s going pretty good.”