Depth has gone from a strength to a weakness rather quickly for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Top free-agent signing James van Riemsdyk, and the rising Nolan Patrick are now both out with injuries.
Losing Nolan Patrick will test the Flyers’ depth. They are now without two of their top-nine forwards; both of which were a key part of the second power play unit.
Patrick was undoubtedly this team’s second-line center heading into the season. He has yet to record a point this year, but he has looked strong with and without the puck. He is tied for the team lead in individual scoring chances at 5v5 with seven, and leads the team with four high-danger chances at 5v5 play. His improvement in the second half of last season looked like it would continue this season.
On one hand, it sucks that Patrick is once again set back by an injury. On the other, it’s a relief that Patrick avoided something more serious. Patrick’s absence of 7-10 days means that he will miss only a handful of games; possibly as few as two.
He will miss Saturday’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights and Tuesday’s against the Florida Panthers. He could return for Thursday’s game in Columbus if all goes well, or next Saturday’s against the Devils.
The Blue Jackets game would be on the short end of the 7-10 days, and the Devils game on the longer end. After that the Flyers host the Avalanche on the 22nd, which is 11 days from the initial 7-10 day diagnosis on Thursday, so he should be back for that.
Without van Riemsdyk, they had to scramble a bit to fill in the gap, but it was doable. They had Jordan Weal and Dale Weise as healthy scratches, who have each played a game in the past two. It also helped that they had Scott Laughton filling in on the third line in the two games without JVR thus far. However, adding another injury to the forward corps will hinder them further.
The top-heavy version of the Flyers could return without these two. It doesn’t help that they’re playing a tough team in the Golden Knights on Saturday.
A bottom-six forward (likely a center) will have to move up into the top-six to center the second line, while a fourth-line forward (or healthy scratch) will move onto the third line.
We saw the Flyers depth be an asset in the season opener, with each of the bottom three lines contributing to the effort. But things can change quickly, and they have for the Orange and Black.