Flyers forward Travis Konecny leaves practice with apparent injury

Flyers forward Travis Konecny leaves practice with apparent injury

VOORHEES, N.J. — Within minutes of the start of Friday’s practice, the Flyers had lost another forward to an apparent injury.

Travis Konecny left the ice grimacing in pain after taking a shot to the inside of his skate. Konecny skated slowly to the bench, where trainer Jim McCrossin tended to him, before attempting to skate and participate in drills. Moments later, Konecny left practice and went inside the dressing room. The Flyers had no medical update on the right winger or his availability for Saturday afternoon’s game against Vegas.

The Flyers are already making up for the loss of left winger James van Riemsdyk and most recently second-line center Nolan Patrick, who is scheduled to miss seven to 10 days with an upper-body injury. General manager Ron Hextall knows the Flyers won’t receive any league-wide sympathy. 

“Look at Anaheim, they've got a pretty good record and they’ve got a few guys down,” Hextall said. “We’re not going to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves. We have more depth right now than I think we’ve had in the past. The guys now will go into a little bit more significant positions and have to produce.” 

While not specifically singling out one player, Hextall could have easily alluded to Jordan Weal, as he stepped into Patrick’s position centering Oskar Lindblom and Konecny — a line that might change by Saturday depending on Konecny’s status.

Regardless, the opportunity is one that wouldn’t have existed for Weal, who was a healthy scratch Wednesday in Ottawa in favor of Dale Weise. Weal was provided every opportunity to become a top-nine forward throughout the preseason, but never had a moment in which he seized that role. With the loss of JVR, Tuesday’s home opener marked Weal’s season debut as he played a team-low 9:45. 

Now Dave Hakstol needs Weal out of necessity as the Flyers' injury situation at forward this season is already starting to look a lot like what plagued their defense last season. A year ago, the Flyers utilized 10 different defensemen in the first 14 games of the season.

Coming into the season, the forward position was one of strength and depth for the Flyers, an area that is being tested just five games into the season.  

“We have 12 forwards right now and that’s what we’re going with,” Hextall said. “These guys are here for a reason, and sometimes if the fit isn’t right, that’s why you do call someone up, but right now the fit’s right so we’re going to go with the 12 that we have.”

Injured forward Corban Knight continues to practice with the team but said it’s now up to the front office to determine if he’s ready. Hextall believes Knight is getting close but still needs a little more practice time and physical contact before he can play in a game.

If Konecny can’t play Saturday and Knight is unavailable, the Flyers would have no choice but to pluck someone off the Phantoms' roster, whether that’s Taylor Leier, Nicolas Aube-Kubel or Tyrell Goulbourne. 

“That’s the bottom line," Hextall said. "We’re a team. We’re going to stick together and we’re going to get through it.”

More on the Flyers

Nolan Patrick injury update: Flyers' 2C out 7-10 days with upper-body injury

Nolan Patrick injury update: Flyers' 2C out 7-10 days with upper-body injury

Nolan Patrick will miss approximately seven to 10 days with an upper-body injury, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said Thursday afternoon.

Patrick left the Flyers' 7-4 win over the Senators on Wednesday night in the first period after a routine, legal check by Ottawa's Mark Stone. Patrick went shoulder-first into the boards but his head appeared to whip back.

While the Flyers did not use the C-word, one has to wonder if the "upper-body injury" is a concussion, especially considering Patrick suffered one last October. The Flyers, like other NHL teams, refuse to be fully transparent when it comes to injuries.

If you recall, Patrick's concussion last season occurred when Ducks winger Chris Wagner checked him into the boards. It wasn't a vicious hit by any means, just like the one that happened Wednesday in Ottawa.

To be fair, though, Patrick's "upper-body injury" could be something other than a concussion. He was officially listed as "day to day" last season with his concussion and the Flyers did give a specific timeline Thursday, so that could be a sign it may not be a concussion.

This is the problem with the "upper-body" and "lower-body" designations.

Patrick played just 3 minutes and 30 seconds Wednesday and also took a stick up high. He has yet to record a point and is a minus-5 in four games this season but has been locked in as the Flyers' second-line center.

With the seven-to-10-day diagnosis, though, the Flyers dodged a bullet. Losing Patrick for any significant time period with James van Riemsdyk already out would have been a major blow to the Flyers' forward group.

The Flyers have four games scheduled between now and the next 10 days. At the minimum, he'll miss two games. With head injuries, though, it could linger.

In the meantime, the Flyers do have options to replace Patrick at 2C. Dave Hakstol could elevate Mikhail Vorobyev to the second line and have Jori Lehtera and Jordan Weal man the third-and-fourth-line centers in some capacity. The Flyers on Thursday also placed van Riemsdyk on injured reserve, according to CapFriendly.com, which opens the door for a potential call-up.

Scott Laughton has almost exclusively played left wing this season and preseason but can play center. And, of course, the Flyers could always move Claude Giroux back in the middle.

Still, losing Patrick hurts the Flyers in the short term. If the "upper-body injury" doesn't linger, though, they should be able to weather this storm.

More on the Flyers

No downplaying it, James van Riemsdyk's injury can be damaging for Flyers

No downplaying it, James van Riemsdyk's injury can be damaging for Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — The next-man-up mentality is a popular mantra across sports whenever a teammate goes down.

In the NHL, it's especially beloved. Hockey players are held up as the toughest of athletes renowned for playing through everything and anything. 

No excuses, whatever it takes.

So, naturally, when the Flyers left the practice ice and started to fill the locker room Monday, the feeling was like any other day, with regular energy and chatter.

But something was missing and there was no hiding it.

James van Riemsdyk's big 6-foot-3, 217-pound frame was not filling his locker stall. The left winger is out approximately five to six weeks with a lower-body injury (see story). As much as the Flyers try to unflappably and admirably push onward, losing their free-agent splash for possibly a month and a half just two games into his reunion is no joke.

This will test the Flyers' character, depth and health out of the chute for a season expected to serve as the biggest step in general manager Ron Hextall's process.

"It's obviously a big loss for us," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "But in the short term, it'll challenge us and challenge our depth and challenge somebody else to step in and do a good job."

There seems to be an outside perception of van Riemsdyk as a player that only scores goals and does very little else. He had just 18 assists last season and has been knocked for his defense in the past. Hockey, however, doesn't have to be so complicated. Ultimately, the teams that win are the teams that score and van Riemsdyk has a track record of consistently putting the puck in the net.

The 29-year-old did not score 36 goals by accident last season. He's poured in 30-plus twice. No Flyer can say that other than Wayne Simmonds.

Five to six weeks without such a skill can be damaging for a team not known to always start fast. In 2017-18, the Flyers were 8-8-2 with 18 points a month and a half into the season. Their 10-game skid was just beginning, which eventually dropped them to 8-11-7 by Dec. 2. The final result was the Flyers having to scrap and claw to clinch a postseason berth on the final day of the regular season.

How the Flyers move forward and get by will be worth watching, game by game.

To start, Jordan Weal will fill van Riemsdyk's third-line slot alongside rookie center Mikhail Vorobyev and right winger Simmonds. For the sake of comparison, Weal is 26, a natural center and in his second full NHL season with 16 career goals. JVR had 16 goals in his first 34 regular-season games last season.

The net-front power-play prowess will be another missed aspect as the Flyers can roll out two versatile and experienced units when van Riemsdyk is at his best. The Flyers will insert 22-year-old Oskar Lindblom onto the second-unit man advantage. The 2014 fifth-round pick who turned himself into an anticipated prospect owns three goals in 25 career games.

Opportunity is prevalent and questions must be answered for the Flyers.

"Obviously it sucks," Simmonds said. "Riemer's a great player, but we've got to keep going."

Almost as if they never signed van Riemsdyk. That is life again, for now.

More on the Flyers