VOORHEES, N.J. – The Flyers believe they have the depth to fill in for the loss of James van Riemsdyk, who will miss five to six weeks with a lower-body injury.
Van Riemsdyk suffered the injury early in Saturday night’s 5-2 loss at Colorado.
The 29-year-old van Riemsdyk played only eight shifts (5:13 of ice time) before leaving.
Van Riemsdyk opened the season on a line with Wayne Simmonds and rookie center Mikhail Vorobyev.
At Monday’s practice, coach Dave Hakstol shuffled his lines, putting Jordan Weal in van Riemsdyk’s spot.
He also flip-flopped the right wings on his top two lines, putting Jake Voracek with Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux and moving Travis Konecny to a second line with Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom.
Voracek, Couturier and Giroux all acknowledged that the loss of van Riemsdyk is a blow to the start of their season but are confident others will pick up the slack.
“He (JVR) is a big part of our team,’’ Couturier said. “It’s a big loss. But it’s going to be other guys who step up and fill up some roles. It’s just an opportunity for someone else, I guess.’’
While Weal can provide some offense, he can’t provide a real strong presence around the net.
So Hakstol will use Vorobyev in place of JVR on the power play.
Weal does have the potential to create offense at even strength.
“It (the JVR injury) is going to be a big loss for us,’’ Hakstol said. “In the short term, that will challenge us, challenge our depth and challenge someone else to step in and do a good job.’’
Voracek knows this is a large void in the lineup for the next month or so.
“It’s a huge loss, he was a big signing over the summer,’’ Voracek said. “It’s tough. You don’t expect that to happen. Unfortunately, that’s what happens during games.
“I feel bad for him. I’m sure he wanted to play in the home opener, coming back to Philly. But it is what it is. He’s been through it a few times in his career.’’
Captain Claude Giroux is one of only a handful of players who were here for JVR’s first tour of duty (2010-12), so he knows what his absence means to this team.
“Obviously, he played great for those first one and a half games,’’ Giroux said. “He takes care of his body and he’s a real good professional.
“When he comes back, he’s going to be in good shape. When a guy at his level is out for an amount of time, I think it’s a great opportunity for people to step up. We’ll see how that goes.’’
Weal is a natural center but he has played wing before, including a bunch of games with the Flyers.
“He’s played on the left side,’’ Hakstol noted of the right-shot Weal. “He’s played there with Simmer before. That should be a combination he has some chemistry with because he’s played with Simmer before.’’
Line changes on tap
For the Giroux-Couturier-Voracek line, it’s a bit of a reunion. This group started last season together.
“Every time me and Jake get back on a line together, it feels like we never missed a step,’’ Giroux said. “We’ve had chemistry before, hopefully we can get off on the right foot right away.’’
Giroux, Couturier, Voracek are all coming off the best seasons of their careers, so this could be an interesting line to watch.
“We started together last year and we have to make sure we hit the same stride,’’ Voracek said.
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