Today is the last on-ice practice before the 2021-2022 home opener versus the Vancouver Canucks. Throughout the week, Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault monitored several players. Unfortunately, two of those players make up the most expensive acquisitions of the Philadelphia Flyers defense.
Two days ago, Vigneault mentioned Rasmus Ristolainen and Ryan Ellis were taking “maintenance” days. Doubt has begun its slow creep as opening night inches closer. Today’s practice confirms who will be available on opening night. Will both be ready for a visit from Vancouver?
With Kevin Hayes missing ten games on long-term injured reserve, the Flyers gained more cap room to acquire a pair of bottom-six players. Zack MacEwen and Patrick Brown belong to Philadelphia. What will either one of their statuses be for tomorrow? Will they be prepared for Vigneault to insert into the lineup? If not, who will replace their role on the fourth line?
All of these questions need answers.
Did today’s practice provide clarity? Here’s what went down in Voorhees, NJ:
Before practice began, Rasmus Ristolainen was skating with Zayde Wisdom and Cooper Zech. Not a good sign, confirmed by Alain Vigneault after the session concluded. Per Vigneault, Ristolainen will not play. His replacement will be Nick Seeler, who stood out as a depth defenseman during the preseason. It’s an unfortunate break to begin the season for the Philadelphia Flyers, who invested heavily into the defense and have the most injured roster heading into the new season.
Kevin Hayes continued his rehabilitation once Ristolainen, Wisdom, and Zech completed their skate. Hayes, placed on long-term injured reserve, will miss the first ten games of the season. Due to his unavailability, the Flyers were able to acquire some help on the fourth line. Unfortunately, those two players will not be available for the opening night either.
Patrick Brown is unavailable due to COVID protocol, and Zack MacEwen gained non-roster status by the NHL due to his US Visa application. He’s the latest Philadelphia acquisition, formerly of the Vancouver Canucks. Both are players who bring the intensity and physicality on the fourth line.
Regarding the thirteenth forward and 4LW role, Jackson Cates and Max Willman receive a call-up from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Per Vigneault, Willman will begin the 2021-2022 NHL season on the fourth line with Nate Thompson and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
Tomorrow night, per Charlie O’Connor, the Flyers lineup consists of:
- Carter Hart, already scheduled to start, remains the opening night goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers.
- Rasmus Ristolainen, listed day-to-day, suffered an upper-body injury versus the Washington Capitals in the final preseason game.
- Justin Braun will play more minutes while Ristolainen is out.
Tomorrow night, the Philadelphia Flyers (0-0-0) host the Vancouver Canucks (0-0-1) at 7pm on ESPN+.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre