Instead of watching their team play this week, Flyers fans are eying the NHL’s daily Covid Protocol list. It’s hoped that the Flyers’ list of affected players doesn’t grow as we’ve seen on some other teams and that the team will be able to get back on the ice early next week.
Flyers’ Covid Timeline
The first sign of trouble came last Sunday. Defenseman Travis Sanheim was scratched before the Flyers’ 7-4 win in Washington, then placed on the league’s Covid list later that day.
Tuesday morning, word came down that the rematch against the Capitals had been postponed.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) February 9, 2021
Tuesday afternoon, captain Claude Giroux and defenseman Justin Braun were added to the Covid Protocol list.
No additional names were added on Wednesday, but forwards Jakub Voracek and Morgan Frost were added on Thursday, bringing the total to five players.
Seeing players’ names on the Covid Protocol list does not necessarily mean that they’ve tested positive for the coronavirus. For example, a player may also have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive or is experiencing symptoms for an unrelated reason.
In Frost’s case, he has been away from the team for more than three weeks, dealing with an injury. He was set to have shoulder surgery last week in Colorado, with a multi-month timeline for recovery.
But we have seen that the virus can spread quickly through a team. The Dallas Stars had to shut down their training camp due to an outbreak in January. We’ve also seen long lists of impacted players from the New Jersey Devils and the Minnesota Wild.
Currently, the Wild’s games through the end of this week have been postponed. The Devils have been sidelined since Jan. 31, and have 17 players on the Covid list as of Feb. 10. Their games are currently postponed through Feb. 15, including two against the Flyers that were originally set for Feb. 11 and 13.
On Wednesday, the league announced that the Flyers’ Feb. 14 contest against the New York Rangers would also be postponed. So, Philadelphia has lost four games from its schedule so far.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 11, 2021
When rescheduling, the league has been reshuffling its schedule to squeeze in games wherever possible. So far, the latest game scheduled is on Monday, May 10. That’s two days after the regular season was originally scheduled to conclude.
What Comes Next
Wednesday’s announcement did contain a glimmer of hope — that the Flyers would be able to get back to practice next Monday.
First off — here’s hoping that all players and their families are in good health and do not suffer significant effects from the virus. That’s the most important thing.
Secondly — here’s hoping that the issue is limited to the three players currently on the list, and does not spread further within the organization. That’s why the decision was made to postpone the games.
“Whenever, based on all facts available to us at the time, there is a material risk of an outbreak situation of exposures, one or more games will be postponed,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly about the Flyers’ situation, according to Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Outdoor Game On The Horizon
As things stand on Thursday, the Flyers’ next game is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 18, against the New York Rangers. Then, the club is set to hop on a plane for its longest flight of the year, to Nevada.
A rendering of #NHLOutdoors at Lake Tahoe for the weekend of Feb. 20-21, 2021.
Next month’s games featuring the @GoldenKnights, @Avalanche, @NHLFlyers and @NHLBruins will increase the number of regular-season outdoor games in NHL history to 32. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/BJR43FMvkO
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 11, 2021
On a specially constructed outdoor rink on the 18th fairway of the Edgewood Tahoe Resort, the Vegas Golden Knights are set to take on the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, Feb. 20. The Flyers are scheduled to meet the Boston Bruins on Sunday.
It will be the first time that the NHL has presented an outdoor game as a strictly made-for-TV event, with no fans onsite. It’s also the first time the league has gone with a double-header format, featuring four teams.
Rink construction is currently underway.
A first look at Edgewood Tahoe turning into a hockey rink for the NHL Outdoors games next weekend! 🏒 pic.twitter.com/Z8KbRmgUDY
— Shannon Kelly (@shannonkelly_tv) February 9, 2021
It promises to be a spectacular affair. And with the Flyers still looking for their first win this season over Boston, the two points that are on the line will be extremely important to both teams.
The Flyers’ pause happens with the team at 8-3-2 through the first 13 games of the season. As of Thursday, that’s good for second place in the East Division, in terms of both points and points percentage.
It’s Phantoms Time
While the big club is sidelined, their AHL farm team got back on the ice this weekend for an abbreviated 2020-21 season.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms kicked off their planned 38-game campaign on the road with a pair of overtime games, a 2-1 win over the Hershey Bears last Saturday, followed by a 2-1 loss to the Binghamton Devils on Wednesday.
Defenseman Wyatte Wylie, a fifth-round Flyers pick in 2018, is the team’s early-season scoring leader, with a goal and an assist.
— LehighValleyPhantoms (@LVPhantoms) February 7, 2021
Because the Ontario Hockey League is still not operational, a special exception has been made this year. Players drafted out of the OHL are allowed suit up in the AHL until their junior hockey season begins. That allowed the Flyers to add 2020 draft picks Tyson Foerster and Zayde Wisdom to the Phantoms’ roster.
Unfortunately for Foerster, the first-rounder suffered a leg injury in his first professional game.
No malice here. Joe Snively blew a tire and slid right into Tyson Foerster, who was helped to the locker room and appeared to not be putting any weight on one of his legs. pic.twitter.com/2DibsJ15S0
— Tony Androckitis (@TonyAndrock) February 6, 2021
Foerster has now been diagnosed with a right shin fracture, with a recovery timeline of three to four weeks.
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