After dealing with the pandemic for the better part of two years, the Flyers know the drill: Take the test, hold your breath and hope for the best.
Only Morgan Frost – who was pulled during Tuesday night’s game against New Jersey and placed in COVID protocol – could not board the Flyers’ charter jet on Wednesday afternoon for Thursday night’s game at Montreal.
So there probably were a few sighs of relief on the plane as the Flyers traveled to Canada, looking to build on their season-high three-game winning streak.
For Wednesday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center, coach Mike Yeo moved Oskar Lindblom up to replace Frost on the red-hot Claude Giroux-Cam Atkinson line.
Yeo, however, would not commit to that alignment against the Canadiens.
The Flyers also called up forward Jackson Cates from the Phantoms to fill Frost’s roster spot. There was speculation the Flyers would have considered bringing up Wade Allison from Lehigh Valley but he needs more playing time with the AHL club as he recovers from an ankle injury.
As for Frost, the Flyers are not disclosing whether Frost tested positive for the virus.
“He’s in COVID protocol right now and not available to us (vs. Montreal),’’ Yeo said. “I don’t know what the timeline is on that.’’
The Flyers might have dodged an initial bullet but are fully aware there is a surge out there, plus they are traveling to another country with different safety mandates.
Also, the NHL is seeing a growing number of cases and game postponements.
“I think you look around the league, the world and it’s obviously out there right now,” Yeo said. “Things are getting a little bit crazier. I think the message to the group this morning is we have to be careful, we have to be smart. But at the same time we can’t afford any distractions right now. We are in a dogfight and we’re working on our game, take precautions that we need but still come to the rink ready to work.’’
Yeo has compiled a 3-2 record since taking over for Alain Vigneault. After Tuesday night’s 6-1 dismantling of New Jersey, the Flyers look like a confident bunch.
“I think confidence is built over time,’’ Yeo said. “You keep working toward it and that’s what the guys are doing for me. That’s the part I have been impressed with. That speeds up the process. In longer stretches we are seeing what we want it to look like in terms of puck support, execution, checking game.’’
As for Lindblom, he might be starting to find some confidence, too. It took him a quarter of the season to score his first goal but now he has two in five games.
“He’s played on the first, second and fourth lines and what I like is his game has looked the same in every game,’’ Yeo said. “That’s what I think he does so well. . .when he’s playing with Coots’ (Sean Couturier) line I know I can trust him against the best players in the league. Last game, you look at the goal he scored, it’s all about playing the game the right way.’’
Lindblom takes a degree of pride in his versatility.
“It no different who I play with,’’ he said. “If I play well, it’s going to make my teammates better, too.’’
Lindblom, who battled through a rare form of bone cancer in 2019-20, agreed with his coach the issue of not scoring now is more mental than physical.
“I’m not used to being in this situation,’’ he said. “I’m just trying to stay focused every day and stay positive.’’
>The Cates/Allison decision
Allison eventually will get another chance but Yeo doesn’t want to jump the gun.
The coach said he needed a fourth-line left wing and Allison is more of a third-line right wing.
“He (Allison) is someone we all think highly of,’’ Yeo said, “We just felt it was a little bit early and for the role we were looking for (Cates was a better fit).”
Yeo said Cates earned the promotion. “He’s really bought into the role and the identity he needs to have,” Yeo said.
>Farabee in full practice mode
Joel Farabee, listed as expected out on IR until next Tuesday due to an upper-body injury, took part in what amounted to a full practice on Wednesday and Yeo liked what he saw.
“He actually did more than I expected,’’ Yeo said. “He was able to get into some of the contact driils.’’
Yeo said there is a possibility Farabee could be back this weekend vs. Ottawa (Saturday).
Yeo said Carter Hart will start in goal vs. Montreal.