Following Thursday’s practice in Columbus, general manager Ron Hextall addressed the media via conference call and among the topics were injury updates.
One of the most recent injuries for the club is that of goaltender Steve Mason, who left the ice vs. Washington on Feb. 8
“[Mason] had arthroscopic surgery on his knee,” said Hextall. “He’s out two to three weeks. He’s been here for rehab. There’s not much of an update other than to say the timeline is the same.”
To clarify, the timeline is when the team expects Mason to be able to play in games, not just begin skating again.
“This was an acute injury which means it happened when it happened,” added Hextall. “[There was no] previous injury, it was an injury that happened at that time. They can tell that when they go into the knee. It was pretty obvious. It’s not a big deal what he’s going through… it’s pretty routine.”
As far as Phantoms goaltender Rob Zepp, who was not recalled because he has also been out with injury, Hextall added that the team will take it day-to-day and wants him to play in a game before considering a recall. The Phantoms are in action on Friday when they take on Binghamton at the PPL Centre in Lehigh Valley.
CONCERNING THE D
Hextall also gave an update on defensemen on the mend, including veteran Kimmo Timonen, who has been hard at work at the Skatezone in Voorhees.
“He skated and felt really good, so assuming he goes on the path he’s going right now, the plan is for him to join the team on Tuesday for the morning skate there,” said Hextall. “Rather than a full practice, the morning skate I think is the first step. So that’s the plan as of right now.”
And while every Flyers fan, including his teammates, would like to see Timonen back in the line-up, Hextall did add caution to an early return.
“I personally think it’s too early, but it’s going to be we’ll see how Kimmo feels. I guess for me, from where I’m looking right now, I would probably suggest that’s not good for Kimmo or for us, at least at this point.
“We’re not going to put Kimmo at risk or move his time schedule up so teams can see him. This is about what’s best for Kimmo. We’re not going to rush him for reasons that aren’t prudent.”
The most immediate return could come from Luke Schenn, who was a late scratch at Montreal with an upper-body injury.
“I tweaked something a little bit and wasn’t able to go in Montreal,” said Schenn. “Actually this is the best I’ve felt since the game so. I feel pretty good and felt surprisingly pretty good waking up this morning and in practice. So I should be fine and ready to go tomorrow.”
Braydon Coburn, who has been sidelined for 11 games with a lower-body injury, is on the road and skating with the team. He is unlikely for Friday’s game at Columbus, but the team is looking more towards Sunday or Tuesday.
It was also announced that injured defense prospect Shayne Gostisbehere has been returned to the Phantoms.
“He skated with the Phantoms a couple days now. No contact,” added Hextall. “He’s moving along in the process and we expect him probably end of February, probably more early March, that he should be playing assuming things move along here. A little bit behind the timeline that was originally set out for us, more of a strength issue, the surrounding muscles that need to be built up.”
Gostisbehere suffered a torn ACL on Nov. 7 in the Phantoms game in Manchester against the Monarchs that a week later required surgery.
Another Flyer skating with the team in hopes for a return is forward Michael Raffl, who has not appeared in the line-up following the All-Star break.
“There’s no timetable for a return, but it’s going to be soon I hope,” said Raffl after the skate on Thursday in Columbus. “When I’m ready I’m going to tell them I’m ready. It’s still tough, battling and stuff.”
Added Raffl: “If you break your leg you can still stay in shape somehow. If you’re sick you don’t have the chance to do that so it takes a little bit to get back.”
Hextall agreed that while Raffl can practice in full with the team, it’s more about being able to play in game situation that could take a little more time, meaning Friday is unlikely for a return.
“I don’t believe he’s going to play tomorrow, and then we’ll see for Sunday,” said Hextall. “It’s more for Raff about getting his wind back and opening his lungs up and being able to handle the load that he needs to handle before we put him in there.”