If the Flyers hope to keep the momentum going from their 4-0-1 streak prior to the current 10-day break, they’re going to have to do it without first-line center Sean Couturier.
The team announced on Sunday that Couturier, along with inactive defenseman Ryan Ellis, had tested positive for COVID-19. That means Couturier won’t be eligible to play when the Flyers resume action at Seattle on Wednesday.
Two other Flyers staff members also were added to the list.
On the plus side, interim head coach Mike Yeo was hopeful he might be getting back one or more of the trio of Morgan Frost, Max Willman and Kevin Hayes from the pre-holiday COVID list – perhaps as early as Monday.
Additionally, Derick Brassard could be headed back to game action soon. Brassard, mending from a lower-body injury, practiced on Sunday at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J. and is showing progress.
“I do believe those guys are ready to come off the COVID list,’’ Yeo said, referring to Frost, Willman and Hayes, during a media Zoom call. “My expectation is these guys will be ready for us.’’
As for Brassard, things are looking somewhat positive.
“He’s getting very close,’’ Yeo said. “I didn’t have a chance to talk with him (after practice) but I know he’s feeling really good. If there’s one little bit of a positive maybe for a guy like that this (break) has given him a chance to rest the body. We’re hopeful he can get in there soon but at the same time we want to make sure we give him the best chance to make sure conditioning-wise and timing-wise that he’s ready to go.’’
Can the Flyers regain the momentum which led to a 4-0-1 surge prior to the stoppage, including postponed games against Washington and Pittsburgh?
“First off, coming out of the break, we have to make sure the conditioning is there,’’ Yeo said. “The timing is there, the skills are sharp. We want to make sure the repetition is there. We’re trying to build habits here and that’s not something that’s easily done. We were real excited to play that game on Dec. 21 (the postponed Washington game). I thought we had some good momentum. We can speculate on whether that goes one way or the other or we can make sure we continue that momentum.’’
Once again, that’s where practices on Monday and Tuesday come in.
“That’s got to be our mindset,’’ he said. “We want to become one of the best practice teams in the league. This is an opportunity to build off that. In a perfect world, we would have continued to play and continued to build off that momentum. But this is the hand we’ve been dealt. As far as I’m concerned we just have to deal with it. We just have to remember how hard we were working.’’