PHILADELPHIA – Just when the return of defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Marc Staal gave the Flyers a full lineup, the old injury bug raised its ugly head again.
The team announced on Tuesday that center Noah Cates is expected to be out of action six to eight weeks with a lower-body injury.
Cates, 24, played only a little over 14 minutes (blocking two shots) in Saturday’s 1-0 shootout win at the New York Islanders.
According to Sean Couturier, Cates (who had played in 119 straight games) will be missed.
“It’s a big loss,” he said. “He plays some big minutes, hard minutes for us. It’s going to be a collective effort to kind of step up and fill in those minutes.
“He’s a big part of the team. I’ve said it before, people don’t realize it but he does a lot of the little things that go noticed to us but not to the fans. It’ll be up to us to step up and fill in that role.”
>Laughton production not a concern
Although Scott Laughton’s offensive production is down this year (only one goal and 10 points), coach John Tortorella doesn’t sound concerned.
For one thing, Laughton – who registered a career-high 18 goals last season — has been spending some time centering the fourth line, a checking unit, as Ryan Poehling has been moved up to third-line duty.
“Try to create energy,” was Laughton’s answer when asked about the new role. “Be good on the forecheck. Be good on the PK. Do my job to the best of my ability. Anytime you’re out there you need to bring energy to that role.”
Said Tortorella: “I’m sure he wants more minutes. He got a lot more last year. The team was different. This is how we’re growing, there are some kids in the lineup taking ice. Poehling has come in and played really well. Scotty will find his way. He just goes about it.”
It would be noted, Laughton is the only player wearing a letter (“A” for alternate captain), so there is trust between player and coach.
“I just love when you get in the middle of a game, when there are penalties or there might be an injury, it’s so good to have a player like Scotty because of the utility he brings,” Tortorella said.
>Power play still struggling
The Flyers ended a 1-for-28 slump on the power play recently by scoring three times in two games with the man advantage. But now they’re struggling again.
Tortorella said he’s going to leave the power play to associate coach Rocky Thompson and the players to work through. The coach added he would only intercede if he sees a lack of effort and right now that’s not an issue.
At Tuesday’s morning skate, the top unit was Couturier, Travis Konecny, Bobby Brink, Owen Tippett and Sean Walker.
The second unit had Garnet Hathaway setting up as a net-front presence and he was joined by Tyson Foerster, Morgan Frost, Cam Atkinson and Travis Sanheim.
>Hockey Fights Cancer Night
Tuesday night is the Flyers’ turn to hold a “Hockey Fights Cancer Night” at the Wells Fargo Center. It’s an annual event around NHL cities to heighten awareness about what measures are being taken to fight the disease.