With two defensemen out, Flyers call up Attard

Ronnie Attard

      VOORHEES, N.J. – He’s already waited his turn for parts of two previous seasons, so what’s another 60 games?

      Defenseman Ronnie Attard finally got the call-up from the Phantoms on Thursday and he was all smiles in the locker room after practice at the Flyers Training Center.

      The promotion was necessitated by injuries to Jamie Drysdale and Rasmus Ristolainen, both right-handed shooters. Each will be sidelined for a significant amount of time.

      With Attard, also a right-handed shot, back on the NHL roster, the Flyers have seven healthy backliners and this could allow coach John Tortorella to go back to his unconventional seven-D/11-forward alignment.

      Whether Attard is in the lineup for Friday night’s game at the Washington Capitals remains to be seen.

      The bigger question might be how the Flyers now approach the March 8 trade deadline. Two of the Flyers’ defense corps – Nick Seeler and Sean Walker – are unsigned for next season and could become unrestricted free agents, which might make them prime targets for a serious Stanley Cup contender.

      When asked if the injury situation might affect the Flyers’ outlook and think twice about trading either of these two veterans, coach John Tortorella simply shook his head and said “no.”

      Attard, who posted 10 goals/25 points with a plus-2 in 46 games at Allentown, has played a total of 17 games with the Flyers prior to this season, so he should have a handle on the speed and complexity of the NHL game.

      “We’re always cognizant of trying to put players into a spot to succeed,” Tortorella said. “I think when you succeed, you have to go through the process of failing, too. Where he sits when he comes in, does he play, how much does he play if he does play? I don’t know where that goes.”

      The White Lake, Michigan native has size (6-foot-3, 208 pounds) and a good hockey background, having played three seasons at Western Michigan University. He was taken 72nd overall (third round) by the Flyers in the 2019 NHL Draft.

      “If he dresses for a game and plays, that’s a call we’ll be watching as the game is played,” the coach said. “Not erase a guy because he makes a mistake, because it’s a game of mistakes. We have to have a feel. We’re into developing but we’re trying to win that game, too. I can’t throw everything away to development when the guys have themselves in a spot playing meaningful games.”

      Attard received the news after Wednesday’s practice with Lehigh Valley and obviously is psyched to get another crack at the NHL.

      “It’s going good down there,” he said of the Phantoms. “It’s a tight race down there as well. Playing meaningful hockey, that’s the most important part. Trying to continue to get better.”

      At 24, Attard still feels he has a chance to make it in the NHL.

      “I think I continue to grow each and every month that I’m here,” he said. “Try to make an impact wherever I’m at. I like to shoot the puck a lot. Just try to keep it simple and move the puck fast, defend as best I can.

      “It’s almost March now – every game matters, every point matters. Just have to be ready to go.”

      >Sandstrom up, Petersen down

      No doubt backup goaltender Cal Petersen didn’t do himself any favors by giving up seven goals in last Saturday’s loss at Pittsburgh.

      On Thursday, the Flyers decided to do something about it by sending Petersen back to the Phantoms and calling up Felix Sandstrom as Samuel Ersson’s backup.

      Sandstrom has played the most games in goal for the Phantoms this season with 20. He’s 11-6-2 with a 3.23 goals-against average and .882 save percentage. The Phantoms sit seventh in the Atlantic Division but only two points out of a playoff spot as the top six teams in the division make the postseason.

      “I just didn’t feel Cal was good enough last game,” Tortorella said. “There hasn’t been a big discrepancy down there with ‘Sandy’ and Cal. We probably have four or five (back-to-back games) left that I think we will use the backup. Sandy deserves a chance, too.

      “Again, I don’t think our team played great against Pittsburgh, I don’t think Cal played that well. The next time we need our back-up, Sandy will get that game.”

      That could be in Saturday’s home game against Ottawa because it’s the second half of a back-to-back.

      >Injury updates

      Drysdale (upper-body injury) was placed on injured reserve. Travis Konecny (upper-body injury) did not practice on Thursday and will miss his fourth straight game on Friday.

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About Wayne Fish 2472 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.