The mystery surrounding why Michael Del Zotto missed practice on Friday is no longer a mystery.
And it's not good news for the Flyers.
The 26-year-old defenseman will miss four to five weeks with a lower-body injury, general manager Ron Hextall announced Friday afternoon.
Sources tell CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio that Del Zotto's injury is to the left knee.
The timing of the injury is especially curious considering Del Zotto played 16:51 in Thursday night's preseason victory over the New York Rangers and reportedly didn't seem injured in the locker room afterward. That said, Del Zotto did skate off the ice gingerly late in the third period Thursday after his lower body twisted in an attempt to block a shot. He did not return to the ice after that play, which can be seen above.
Del Zotto was an unexpected scratch from practice Friday at Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, while Brandon Manning, who was listed Thursday as week to week with an upper-body injury, returned to practice.
The Del Zotto injury could actually help buy the Flyers some time to clear up some of their cap issues as the preseason winds down and the regular-season opener next Friday night in Los Angeles nears. The Flyers could place Del Zotto on long-term injury reserve and free up his money for the extent of his absence.
But that decision is ultimately up to Hextall and the ball is now in his court.
Del Zotto is entering his third season with the Flyers. He scored four goals and recorded nine assists last season, but missed almost the last three months of the season thanks to a wrist injury that necessitated surgery in February. Before last season's injury, he was having arguably his most complete year of his seven-year career as he continued his evolution from a purely offensive-minded defenseman to more of an all-around defender. He led the Flyers with 23:24 of ice time per night last season before the wrist injury ended his campaign prematurely.