PHILADELPHIA – As if the Flyers needed more bad news in the midst of an eight-game winless streak, the team learned it will be without center Kevin Hayes for three to four weeks.
The official announcement came down late Tuesday afternoon, just hours before the Flyers-Islanders game at the Wells Fargo Center.
Hayes, who already went two abdominal operations last year, underwent a procedure on Tuesday morning to drain fluid from his adductor region (in the same general area as the two previous surgeries).
The loss of Hayes leaves the Flyers even thinner at the center position.
Already sidelined are Sean Couturier, Derick Brassard, Patrick Brown and Nate Thompson.
The Flyers planned to go with Claude Giroux, Scott Laughton and Morgan Frost on the first three lines for the second half of the back-to-back against the Isles.
“Kevin’s been dealing with some issues,’’ interim head coach Mike Yeo said in a pre-game media Zoom call at the WFC. “He’s been battling. . .it’s not easy playing through the pain, the discomfort. I would say this was almost a doctor’s call, something that needed to be done.’’
The Flyers are hoping they can get more out of their collective group of forwards to make up for Hayes’ absence.
“Obviously it’s a big loss,’’ Yeo said. “At a time where we’re very thin at the center ice position. You look at losing Thompson earlier in the year, ‘Coots’ (Couturier) what he brings to the team. Patrick Brown, losing him and now we have Hayes out of the lineup. It’s a challenge. We need guys to step up right now. Guys have to rise to the occasion.’’
Yeo was impressed that Hayes played in Monday night’s game at the Islanders even though he knew he was having the procedure done on Tuesday.
“It says a lot about him,’’ Yeo said. “He’s in good spirits. I know he’s optimistic of getting back even before that timeline (three-four weeks). He’s a guy who wants to play.’’
Added Laughton: “We’ll miss him in the room. Hopefully he gets a little bit healthier and come back and feel a little bit better on the ice. I have to step up in a time like this. They’re big shoes to fill but you have to do your job and be relied upon. I don’t know if you can fill those shoes but you have to come to work everyday and be able to do it.’’
>Close games dilemma
A bunch of the losses in the eight-game streak have been of the one-goal variety. Yeo is hoping to reverse that trend soon.
“It’s extremely challenging and this is where you have to show your character, honestly,’’ Yeo said. “Not allow excuses to creep in with the guys we have out of the lineup. Make sure individually your focus is on yourself. Find another level than what we’ve been bringing. It’s difficult to win when you only score one or two goals a game.’’
>Power play fix
The Flyers’ power play entered Tuesday night just four for its last 26 chances. How can things be turned around?
“With a successful power play, it usually comes down to quick movement,’’ Yeo said. “And a shooting mentality. The last couple we scored were point shots with tip deflections.