VOORHEES, N.J. – While he won’t be making his season debut against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night, Cam Atkinson did lift the Flyers’ spirits with his first full practice of the year on Monday.
Last season’s Bob Clarke Trophy winner for team MVP has not played a minute this campaign due to an upper-body injury which has taken more than a quarter of the season from which to recover.
After the workout at the Flyers Training Center, Atkinson wouldn’t divulge the nature of the injury but admitted it’s been frustrating.
But the good news is the Flyers are getting one of their best players back soon. That came just minutes after the Flyers announced leading scorer Travis Konecny has been placed on the injured reserve list with an upper-body injury (speculated to be a problem with his right hand) which will keep him out the rest of Philadelphia’s five-game homestand.
Once he came off the ice, Atkinson indicated he felt good enough to play against New York.
But shortly later, coach John Tortorella shot down that notion.
“He’s been doing a lot of work on the ice, a lot of work off the ice,’’ the coach said. “But not so much with his hands and all that.’’
One thing is certain: The Flyers could certainly use his leadership, given the current 10-game (0-7-3) winless streak.
“Cam’s a great pro, an important player to this organization,’’ Tortorella said. “Just to get some different blood in the lineup. . .a quality National Hockey Leaguer would be a big boost for us.’’
The Flyers could also really use Atkinson on special teams.
“He just loves playing,’’ the coach said. “It’s been killing him not to. He sees us going down this road. I’ve known him for so long now, he wants to make a difference everytime he’s on the ice.’’
Atkinson was all smiles back in the locker room after the session.
“It was great to be back with the team,’’ he said. “Definitely getting closer. I’m definitely going to be back sooner than later.’’
It’s not easy for a high energy player such as Atkinson to sit and watch for six weeks.
“It’s an injury I’ve never quite had before,’’ he said. “I’m just being cautious now. Just to be cleared for contact is positive feedback for me.’’
>DeAngelo banged up
Defenseman Tony DeAngelo did not practice on Monday but Tortorella said he expects him to play against the Islanders. The nature of the injury was not disclosed.
>Zamula called up, will play
With the Flyers practicing for the first time in about 10 days, rookie defenseman Egor Zamula was recalled from the Phantoms on Monday.
Tortorella indicated Zamula will be in the lineup vs. the Islanders, regardless of DeAngelo’s status. That means another veteran – likely Justin Braun or Nick Seeler – will be taking a seat for that game.
It’s the coach’s intention to get some more youth into the Flyers’ defense.
“Z is going to play tomorrow no matter what,’’ Tortorella said. “I’m not sure who comes out. If Tony can play, someone is coming out.
“It’s one of the conversations I’ve had with (general manager) Chuck (Fletcher). I think we need to bring another kid in to start developing.’’
When news of those comments reached the young Russian, he was in a good frame of mind.
“It feels great,’’ he said. “I went down and played big minutes. . .the penalty kill, power play, everywhere. I feel like right now I’m in good shape. I’m ready to play tomorrow.’’
Tortorella made a point of saying Zamula doesn’t get down on himself when he makes a mistake. He quickly moves on to the task at hand.
“I’ve worked on that,’’ he said. “If you have a bad shift in the first period, you need to play on the second shift as hard as you can. If you start thinking about your third shift, then your game is not going to be great.’’
Veteran Russian defenseman Ivan Provorov has tutored his young countryman on that matter.
“He tells me if I have a bad game, go home, sleep, don’t worry about this game,’’ Zamula said. “Wake up tomorrow in good mood. Forget about last game, be ready to play next game.’’