VOORHEES, N.J. – With the possibility of both defenseman Ryan Ellis and center Kevin Hayes returning to the Flyers’ lineup for Saturday’s game in Dallas, there is understandable good cheer around the team.
But the celebration could come with a price.
Because of salary cap issues, the Flyers might have to waive one of their three spare forwards (Patrick Brown, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Zack MacEwan), a scenario which would be disappointing because each one of the trio has shown some promise.
Ellis took part in a full practice on Thursday at the Flyers Training Center and was on the team flight to Carolina for Friday night’s game there.
Coach Alain Vigneault pretty much assured the gathered media he was going to use Ellis, out since the third game of the season with a hip/groin injury, against the Stars.
As for Hayes, sidelined the entire season by a second abdominal operation, he’s been lobbying everyone from the assistant coaches to the equipment guys to get back on the ice.
According to Vigneault, there’s only one person Hayes hasn’t made a plea to and that’s. . .Vigneault.
“I’m telling you right now, Kevin is on a campaign to play on this road trip,’’ Vigneault said with a grin. “He’s gone to everyone on my staff, medical, (telling) the doctors he wants to play on this trip. He just hasn’t come to me yet. But I know that’s going to follow. I would not count him out.’’
Ellis wants to get back into action as much as Hayes does but the Flyers have exercised an abundance of caution with him and the medical people have kept a close eye on the situation. If he’s good to go, he’s going.
“He will not play tomorrow,’’ Vigneault reiterated. “But I’m very, very optimistic that he will be able to play Saturday.’’
The Carolina/Dallas trip is a back-to-back situation and Vigneault pointed out he did not want Ellis or Hayes to play both games in such a short time span.
If both Hayes and Ellis play at Dallas, it will be the first time all season the Flyers have a full lineup.
With the Flyers having scored only 14 goals in their last seven games, Vigneault tinkered with his lines on Thursday, switching Joel Farabee (scoreless in eight games) off the Brassard line and moving Oskar Lindblom (0 for 11) onto that second unit. Farabee is now with Scott Laughton and James van Riemsdyk on the third line.
“The thought process is that although both those lines are playing the right way, at some point you’re looking for better results,’’ said Vigneault, who has surprisingly kept his top three lines together for much of the first 11 games. “We had Joel and James play with Scott on a couple occasions last year and there seemed to be some good chemistry.’’
At some point Lindblom is going to break out of his scoring slump.
“Oskar is doing everything he’s supposed to do,’’ Vigneault said. “He’s just not finishing right now. ‘Brass’ and Cam (Atkinson) have good chemistry so I’m hoping we get a little rhythm going here.’’
>Yandle back on power play
Keith Yandle has a ton of experience on the power play and it was no surprise Vigneault is bringing him back to that role on the point, given the Flyers are just two for their last 21 with the man advantage over the past seven games.
“I just like what he brings on that,’’ he said. “Right now, with Ryan being out, of the other defensemen, there’s really no one else who’s really power-play oriented. We know we weren’t very good on the power play yesterday (Wednesday vs. Toronto). We worked on it again in practice today and I’m expecting good results.’’
>Brassard feels ill at practice
Derick Brassard left practice early on Thursday.
“He wasn’t feeling well,’’ Vigneault said. “They did a quick hydration test for him when he got off the ice and he was dehydrated, that’s why he was feeling a little bit dizzy. They gave him an IV and he will be good to go tomorrow.’’
>Hart to start
Carter Hart will start in goal at Carolina which means there’s a very good chance Martin Jones will play on Saturday at Dallas. Jones is off to a 3-0 start with a 1.67 goals-against average and a league-leading .950 save percentage.
>More greasy goals
Atkinson talked about why the Flyers need to do better work around the net. The Flyers had 35 shots on net against Toronto but rebounds were generally left unattended.
“It’s one thing to get shots,’’ Atkinson said. “We have to get players in front of the net, not just one guy. We have to do a better job of getting to the net and getting greasy goals and dragging guys into the fight that way. Everyone wants a pretty goal but sometimes the best ones are the dirty, greasy goals where you get cross-checked from the back and you’re able to bang it home. I think we need to have a little bit more of that in our game.’’