Sanheim in COVID-19 protocol but Flyers expect to play Tuesday night

Travis Sanheim

By now, the shock has worn off.

When the Flyers learned defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere tested positive for COVID-19 last month, there were some wide eyes around the locker room.

But now, at least one player on 23 of 24 United States-based NHL teams has joined Gostisbehere in that fraternity.

For the Flyers, the number has risen to two players with the news the reason defenseman Travis Sanheim missed Sunday’s game at Washington was because he, too, has been placed on the coronavirus list.

Sanheim also will sit out Tuesday night’s rematch against the Capitals at Capital One Arena but so far, the remainder of the Flyers appear to be OK. The game is still scheduled to be played.

Coach Alain Vigneault said the Flyers underwent Sunday morning “rapid testing’’ earlier than usual because of the 12 noon start on Super Bowl Sunday.

Sanheim did not take part in Monday afternoon’s practice in Washington. The Flyers did not issue a statement as to how long Sanheim will be out of action.

The Flyers were shaken out of bed at a rather unceremonious time of 6:15 a.m., which might have contributed to the team’s slow start. The Flyers were down 2-0 before they scored seven of the next nine goals in a 7-4 win.

“It is what it is and you have to deal with it,’’ Vigneault said during a Monday media Zoom call from D.C. “We had a wakeup call for 6:15. We came to the rink not knowing if we were going to play but we did play. The second period and especially the third I thought we played hard and we deserved to win.’’

Travis Konecny indicated it’s just about the earliest he’s ever woken up for a game.

“I think it’s the first time, at least in the NHL, I’ve been up at 6:15,’’ he said. “Obviously things are a little bit different this year. We’re not the only team going through these tests and protocols. There’s no excuses but it’s a new experience.

“I think the first couple minutes there was some waking up that needed to be done.’’

Added goalie Brian Elliott: “It (testing) is unique. You have to roll with the punches a little bit.’’

>Statistical anomaly no big deal

Although the Flyers find themselves on the negative side of several statistical categories, the 8-3-2 Flyers keep winning.

Vigneault doesn’t sound like he’s too concerned about things like negative shots, puck possession time, special teams, etc.

As long as his team finds a way, things are OK.

“You look at our stats in all areas the last five games, we have been getting better,’’ Vigneault noted. “We are playing a better five-on-five game right now.

“The only stat we’re behind on is shots on net and the attempted shots. But our overall game as far as scoring chances, scoring chances against, outnumbered chances that we might be giving can improve.’’

>Balancing act for Konecny

Konecny got off to a hot start this season, with a hat trick in the second game against Pittsburgh. But since then, things have decidedly cooled off.

In fact, Konecny was actually benched for a game because Vigneault didn’t like the way the right wing was playing defensively.

Konecny admits there’s a little bit of a balancing act going on here.

“I think there’s points in everyone’s career where they need to reset a little bit,’’ Konecny said. “For me, right now I’m just focused on trying to play the right way and being effective. That doesn’t always mean being on the scoresheet.’’

Currently, Konecny has played 12 games with five goals/eight points and a plus-4.

“Those things (goals, points) just come from playing the game the right way. If it doesn’t happen right away, you get rewarded from doing the right things consistently. I’m just focused on being in the right spot, skating, creating.’’

>New fatherhood secret to JVR quick start?

James van Riemsdyk, who welcomed a new daughter to the world in 2020, is off to the fastest start of his career. Could it be new fatherhood has given him extra inspiration?

Vigneault chuckled at that notion.

“One of the greatest moments you can have is being a new father,’’ Vigneault said. “I think for him, I’m not sure it has anything to do with it (fast start) but I believe it’s because he’s playing the right way, creating turnovers, finishing checks.’’

>Myers bounces back

Phil Myers was just back from a rib injury when Washington’s Alex Ovechkin blew past him to set up the Caps’ second goal. But Myers settled down after that and showed the composure of a veteran, even though he’s played less than 100 games in the NHL.

“With Phil, his effort is always there,’’ Elliott said. “He wants to do the best he can for the team. That’s all you want out of a guy. If you’re making mistakes but you’re trying a hundred percent, I think the guys know.’’


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About Wayne Fish 2437 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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