After a full day off and the schedule about to resume with a back-to-back set, the Flyers could be getting a little more help on the back-end on Monday against the defending champs.
Defenseman Andrew MacDonald took part in a full Flyers practice alongside his usual partner, Ivan Provorov, indicating that he could return on Monday at Pittsburgh or Tuesday against the Sharks at the Wells Fargo Center. MacDonald has been skating with the team ever since their two-game trip to Winnipeg and Minnesota over a week ago.
"I feel really good. I think at this point it's up to the people above me to make those decisions," said MacDonald on a return. "It's simply about getting a little bit of strength back into it. I wasn't putting any weight on it for a while, you lose some muscle in there - it just happens - so at this point you just have to build it up a little bit and make sure there are no set backs. I'm not worried about it any more. It feels good and I'm ready to move forward."
For the Flyers, it will be a welcome return to say the least. Since MacDonald went out with injury on Oct. 22, the Flyers are 3-6-6 and are in a stretch of seven straight games without a win.
"Today he had a heck of a good day. He looked good and we'll make a decision on him tomorrow," said Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol. "He's got a real presence in our dressing room and he also has a real presence on the ice for us in terms of his role with his d-pairing and really that domino effect through our d-core."
The other added change it could bring is to equalize the playing time Provorov has added to his workload (among other players). Provorov has played over 25 minutes in nine of the 15 games, including four contests of 28 minutes or above.
"It'll be great to get Mac back. He's a great leader and he makes a great impact on the team," said Provorov. "As a team we have to play better and we will."
OTHER POSSIBLE CHANGES
In other news today, the lines were slightly shifted to include forwards Dale Weise and Jori Lehtera, who both filled in on the line that Scott Laughton has been centering so far this season.
Taylor Leier and Jordan Weal could be out as a result, however as has been the case in practices throughout the season, they could be just looks for chemistry and are certainly not set in stone for a game roster.
"We'll obviously make a final decision on that tomorrow, but those two players, it doesn't matter if they're veterans or young guys, they've been out of the lineup for a couple nights," said Hakstol. "They've done a lot of work and if they come back in, there are certain elements that they bring that are a little bit different than Taylor and Jordan play."
Added Hakstol: "Every time you've seen Jori in the lineup, he's played good, hard, two-way hockey. He brings a heaviness to whatever line he's on, so for me it's more of looking at factors like that."
Lehtera has missed the last two games, while Weise has been out of the last three for the Flyers.
THE DADS COME ALONG
The upcoming two-day set also has the Flyers bringing along extra passengers - their dads.
It's the annual "Father Trip" and the team is hoping to repeat the success from last year (a 4-2 win at Nashville) in front of their dads.
"He really enjoys them," added MacDonald, whose father, Robert, is in town for the trip. "It's pretty special for the dads to come in and see how it all works. I think every year when they come they meet up with the dads from the year before."
Although a few of the dads have themselves played professional hockey, it's a lot different than their days in the league… and a lot different watching their boy.
"It means a lot," said Sean Couturier, who's father, Sylvain, made the journey this year. "They've been there since we were little, supporting us and carrying us around rinks. To show them the experience of professional hockey is pretty nice and fun for them too."
FACING THE PENS
As nice as it is to have the dads along, the trip is all business for the team who will be going up against their biggest rivals, and defending Stanley Cup Champions for the first time this season.
One player who will be getting his first taste of the rivalry is Danick Martel, the recently recalled forward from Lehigh Valley who made his NHL debut last Tuesday.
"They have the best player in the league right now. Crosby's always been an idol for everyone I'm sure, but here at the Flyers we don't like him… Yeah I'm excited but it's a game like the others. It's an NHL game, you need to be sharp every shift. Whoever it is, the first or the fourth line with Crosby, you have to play your game, your style and that's what I'm going to do tomorrow."
More Flyers weighed in on the rivalry and how it's the perfect game to get up for and snap their skid…
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