Flyers have a worrisome problem with Ellis suffering reinjury


VOORHEES, N.J. — Two days after making his return to the lineup, Ryan Ellis didn't take the ice for practice Monday at Flyers Training Center.

The news wasn't good on the club's top-pair defenseman, a do-it-all player brought in to fill the Flyers' biggest hole from a troubling 2020-21 season.

Ellis reinjured himself in the Flyers' 5-2 loss Saturday night to the Stars. Head coach Alain Vigneault said Ellis will be reevaluated and "at this time, his timeline would be week to week."

Saturday night was Ellis' first game back after he had missed the previous nine because of a lingering lower-body injury. The issue appears to be to the hip/groin area.

The injury kept Ellis out for three weeks. Given the problematic nature of this injury, week to week could result in a monthlong absence for Ellis.

"I just saw him briefly this morning," Vigneault said. "We're going to investigate the problem, continue to investigate, we have. But there's definitely some issues there and hopefully we can get him back in the near future."

Last season, the Flyers faltered staggeringly without a consistent top-pair guy next to Ivan Provorov. They never filled the void left by Matt Niskanen's retirement, which led to Chuck Fletcher's No. 1 objective in the offseason: finding Provorov a bona-fide partner. The general manager kicked off his aggressive and active offseason by acquiring Ellis in a July trade before the expansion draft, entry draft and free agency period.

The 30-year-old sustained his injury in the Flyers' preseason finale. Ellis missed three consecutive practices before the team's regular-season opener Oct. 15. He was able to play in the Flyers' first three contests, logging 24:09 minutes per game, four points (one goal, three assists) and a plus-3 rating.

"I've never dealt with it," Ellis said last Tuesday. "It happened the last preseason game. I thought I could manage it, played three and the third one, it more or less failed me. Couldn't continue and here's where we're at."

Ellis has an injury history, having battled issues at different stages of his career. He missed a month last season because of an upper-body injury that required surgery. He was limited to 44 games in 2017-18 because of knee surgery the offseason prior. On the other hand, Ellis has played 79 or more games three times in his career — 2013-14, 2015-16 and 2018-19.

"It's definitely very unfortunate," Provorov said. "Ryan was only able to play three games, then got hurt. To go through all that rehab and come out just to get hurt again and kind of start all over, it's definitely tough mentally for him. As a team, we'll be able to adjust and we'll try to support him. Hopefully it's not that long, but I think this time, he should take all the time that he needs and come out when he's ready."

The Flyers will rely upon Nick Seeler some more as they push through November and into December. He has been needed for 11 games already.

"He's been great," Provorov said. "He's a great human overall, just off the ice, great guy. On the ice, he's one of those guys that is willing to do whatever you need him to do to help the team win, whether it's block a shot or fight one of the biggest guys in the NHL. Ever since his camp, his work ethic, too, shows that he wants to be here and he wants to help."

Vigneault's club enters a three-game homestand this week at 7-4-2 and allowing only 2.54 goals per game. Last season, the Flyers surrendered an NHL-worst 3.52 per game. While they've played exponentially better defensively, the Flyers have recently struggled to score, putting up 1.57 goals per game in their last seven games. In that stretch, they haven't won or lost consecutive games.

The Flyers' remaining eight games this month are challenging. The club faces the two-time defending champion Lightning twice, as well as the Panthers, Hurricanes, Bruins, Islanders, Flames and Devils.

"Ryan's a big piece to our team," Claude Giroux said. "He plays a lot of situations on the ice — power play, PK, plays against the top lines on the other side. When you have a guy like that on your team that's going to miss a lot of time, at the same time, it's somebody's chance to step up and kind of take his role. A guy like Justin Braun has been playing great for us right now.

"When you're out of the lineup and you see your teammates battling every night, you want to go back in the lineup as quick as you can to help them win. I think everybody feels like that."

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