VOORHEES – After two games like that, something had to change, if only for appearance’s sake.
While general manager Chuck Fletcher insisted the Thursday promotion of three players from the Phantoms – defenseman Philippe Myers, forwards German Rubtsov and Carsen Twarynski – was mostly about a projected Lehigh Valley-Philadelphia shuttle early in the season, others offered different views.
Head coach Alain Vigneault came right out and indicated a lineup revision was needed after 5-3 and 7-1 losses to the Islanders and Pittsburgh respectively.
Center Mikhail Vorobyev and defenseman Sam Morin (conditioning purposes) were assigned to the Phantoms.
Meanwhile, it was revealed forward Scott Laughton on Wednesday underwent surgery on his broken right index finger and will be out three to four weeks. The Flyers put him on long-term injured reserve (LTIR).
Vigneault looks to have Rubtsov make his NHL debut as fourth-line center in Friday night’s game at the New Jersey Devils. Also, Myers (who played in 21 NHL games last year) figures to play and be paired with Travis Sanheim, a move which pushes Robert Hagg out of the starting rotation.
And Twarynski, who started the season with the Flyers but was sent down to the Phantoms for a week, will replace Tyler Pitlick on the third line with Kevin Hayes and Joel Farabee.
“A couple of reasons (for the promotions),’’ Vigneault said. “Obviously our last two games were not very good. Prior to that, I thought our game was headed in the right direction.
“But in an 82-game schedule sometimes you will have challenging moments. We had two challenging games.’’
Vigneault said Vorobyev played a good first game but his last two were on “the average side.’’
Rubtsov, one of the last cuts of the preseason, has figured in the Flyers’ plans all along.
“He’s been playing well,’’ Vigneault said. “Phil also has been playing well so we decided to make those changes.’’
With a record of 5-5-1, Vigneault isn’t overly pleased with any aspect of his team’s game, particularly the play of his veteran leaders.
“We need our top players to lead the way for us, by how they’re supposed to play,’’ Vigneault said. “We need ‘G’ (Claude Giroux) to be a top-end performer like he’s been the past few years. I need Jake (Voracek) to be a top-end performer like he’s been the past few years.
“I need for them to lead the way. I’m very confident that’s going to be the case.’’
On the flip side, Fletcher said the moves were more performance-based than trying to send a message.
“It’s certainly not about message sending,’’ Fletcher said. “As I mentioned in training camp, it’s going to be a process here early in the season and there would probably be a steady flow of players getting called up and getting sent back to Lehigh Valley.
“Part of it would be based on performance up here and part of it is these are young players that you want to make sure you develop them properly. Some of them, when they’re up here, may be playing in a more limited role — six to eight, nine minutes a night and after a while, that’s not beneficial for their long-term development.
“So I think what we’re trying to do is just balance what we need up here to have the most competitive team on the ice as well as making sure that they’re developing and maintaining a high level of confidence.”
Myers, admitting he was “disappointed’’ when he was one of the last cuts from training camp, doesn’t care what the motive is for his return. He just wants to play in a Flyers uniform.
He said he worked on some stuff at Allentown, like playing with more confidence, decision making and keeping his game simple.
“I was just trying to stay positive down there and keep the right attitude,’’ he said. “Just try to get back up here as fast as I can.’’
Vigneault assured Myers over in Prague, Czech Republic that he would be back and to remain patient.
“It’s good to be here,’’ Myers said. “It (being sent down) made me want to work that much harder. If you take care of everything defensively, the rest will take care of itself. I was trying to be sure of myself down there.’’
Twarynski returns after a week’s stay. He originally made the opening night roster based on his strong two-way play in the preseason.
“When I was up here, I think I was playing good,’’ Twarynski said. “I’m fortunate to be coming back up only a week later. It just shows how fast things can change.’’
>Patrick status still in limbo
Nolan Patrick is still sidelined with a chronic migraine headache condition and Fletcher said his status hasn’t changed much.
There’s been speculation Patrick might sit out the whole season but Fletcher said he isn’t approaching the situation under that belief.
“I can’t speculate on that,’’ Fletcher said. “I’m an optimist. I can tell you he’s a really important part of our team. You look at our situation now, we have two centermen, two key players on our team that are out. One’s a player who will help us win a lot of hockey games when he gets back. We’re hopeful. It’s a tough situation. Again, I won’t speculate because I can’t. I can’t predict what will happen.’’
>Hart to get start
Goalie Carter Hart hopes to get things turned around at New Jersey after a bad night in the 5-3 loss at Long Island and then a mop-up third-period job at Pittsburgh.
“I’m feeling good with my practices right now,’’ he said. “I just have to go in there tomorrow with a fresh mindset, focusing on one thing really and that’s stopping the puck. I don’t want to overthink things. When I’m playing my best, I’m not thinking, I’m just playing.’’