The Flyers welcomed their five-day break this week after capping off a taxing stretch of seven games in 12 days. It has allowed them to take a much-needed breather, get in some valuable practice time and heal up from the wear and tear of the span, which the Flyers completed 2-3-2.
“A little time off will be good for us – not just physical but mentally,” captain Claude Giroux said following a 5-4 overtime loss on Saturday against the Avalanche. “When we come back to work, we need to keep doing what we’re doing.”
They return to the ice on Thursday to host the Blackhawks, who dealt them a 3-0 loss last Wednesday, and then the struggling Wild on Saturday. When the season resumes, their lineup will likely look different.
Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and rookie center Nolan Patrick, who missed the Blackhawks game due to injuries, and defenseman Radko Gudas, who left it in the first period, may all be available.
Gostisbehere, who sat out for three games with an upper-body injury, already made it back on Sunday and didn’t appear to miss a beat. He played over 26 minutes and led the team in shot attempts with 11.
“I felt good and my legs felt good,” Gostisbehere said afterward. “I just need to clean up some things and get back to normal.”
Gudas, who Gostisbehere called the team’s “heart and soul of the defense” could be close to joining his teammates after missing two games with concussion-like symptoms following an elbow to the head from Brandon Saad. He returned to practice on Tuesday and is itching to receive the green light from the team’s medical staff.
“I’m trying to get back into it,” he told reporters following practice Tuesday. “I hate watching hockey, especially when my team is playing. That’s the toughest [part of sitting out] for me.”
Patrick, out for the last six games since suffering a head injury against the Ducks on Oct. 24, is the one outlier. Although he skated on Tuesday, it was not with the team, and the organization’s second overall pick last June is listed as day-to-day. However, that has been his status for the last couple of weeks.
Regardless of the reinforcements the team gets back this week, the Flyers understand they need to flip the switch back on again against one of their Western Conference arch nemesis.
“We have to come back on Thursday and be sharp,” Jakub Voracek said. “Sometimes the layoffs can hurt a team. We have a few banged up bodies. It is going to help us hopefully a little bit. We got to get some guys back and hopefully we are going to be sharp on Thursday.”