Elliott, Neuvirth expected back for regular-season action

Brian Elliott

VOORHEES, N.J. – Pretty soon the Flyers goaltending position could be a pleasantly crowded house.

General manager Ron Hextall disclosed on Sunday that both veterans Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth (lower-body injuries) are in varying stages of recovery but should be back well before the playoffs start.

When they return, they will join another veteran, Petr Mrazek, along with rookie Alex Lyon.

There’s a good chance Lyon would then return to the Phantoms. But that still leaves three players for two spots.

Of course, around here, it’s good to have a spare tire because you never know when there’s going to be another blowout. Especially with Neuvirth’s track record.

Hextall wouldn’t put a specific date on either Elliott or Neuvirth.

“Too early to give a timeline (on Elliott), ‘Neuvy’ is a little bit ahead of where we thought,’’ Hextall said after his team practiced at the Skate Zone. “In saying that, I don’t have a definitive timeline on him either.

“We’ll wait and see. We believe (a return in time for regular-season play), albeit late,’’ Hextall said. “As of right now, I’d say both have a chance to play in the regular season.’’

Elliott is supposed to begin skating again on Thursday. He’s been out exactly a month.

Needed day off for Couturier

Center Sean Couturier was given a day off from practice for some badly needed rest.

Couturier has posted 29 goals this season, nearly double his career high of 15, but hasn’t put one in the net in 11 games. That drought goes back to Feb. 16 in Columbus, although he did score the shootout winner at Montreal on Feb. 26.

Coach Dave Hakstol had Couturier on the ice for only 20:17 in Saturday’s win over Winnipeg. Hakstol said he wasn’t consciously resting Couturier but it’s clear a recent string of games averaging around 24 minutes per game was a little bit much.

“You’re going to go through your little ups and downs in the regular season,’’ Hextall said. “No matter who you are. You could say he’s in a little bit of a down right now (offensively) but we’re not concerned about it.

“He plays the right way, both sides of the puck. They will start going in for him again.’’

Weal not a happy camper

Jordan Weal has been scratched the past couple games and on Sunday didn’t sound too pleased with his current situation.

He hasn’t scored a goal since Feb. 6.

Anything in particular that’s lacking in his game?

“There’s times when it looks like Jordan is doing OK, he’s back,’’ Hextall said. “Then he doesn’t quite finish a play. Part of Jordan’s responsibility is to make plays and score.

“He’s coming up a little bit short. It’s not for lack of effort. He tries hard. He’s very intense, very serious about the game. Loves to play the game. The results just aren’t there right now. We need better results right now.’’

Bellemare’s return

Vegas hits town for the first time on Monday night. It marks the return of popular ex-Flyer Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who is doing well with the Golden Knights.

Expect a great reception.

“Obviously he’s a great guy,’’ Wayne Simmonds said. “A lot of guys in the dressing room liked him. It would be nice for him to play back in Philadelphia, his first NHL team. I’m sure all the guys will talk to him after the game.’’

As for Vegas, they continue to surprise people with their smart, up-tempo brand of hockey.

“They’re extremely fast,’’ Simmonds said, “both skating-wise and puck movement-wise, so we have to be aware, we have to manage puck well. They seem to be killing teams off the transition.

“They have some extremely good players, guys who have been cast off by other teams (including goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury) who have turned out to be big time players.


Wayne Fish
About Wayne Fish 166 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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