VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers will be without one of their most responsible, defensively-sound forwards for at least a month and a half.
Noah Cates will miss six to eight weeks because of a lower-body injury. After the Flyers' 4-1 loss Tuesday night to the Hurricanes, head coach John Tortorella confirmed that Cates suffered a broken foot.
The 24-year-old played 14:12 minutes in the team's 1-0 shootout win Saturday night over the Islanders. He blocked a pair of shots in the victory.
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He also recently required close to 30 stitches in the area of his upper lip after taking a puck to his face.
As a rookie last season, Cates blossomed into the Flyers' best defensive forward, drawing comparisons to Sean Couturier by his teammates. This season, his minutes (14:25 per game) and offense (four points) have been down a bit, but he's still a guy the Flyers rely on for some of their toughest matchups.
Entering Tuesday, the Flyers' penalty kill was tied for 11th in the NHL at 83.6 percent. Cates has led all Flyers forwards in shorthanded ice time at 2:09 minutes per game. The next closest is Cam Atkinson at 1:57.
"It's a big loss," Couturier said Tuesday. "He plays some big minutes, hard minutes for us. It's going to be I think a collective effort to kind of step up and fill in those minutes. He's a big part of this team. I've said it before, people maybe don't realize it, but he does a lot of the little things that go noticed to us but maybe not to the fans. It'll be up to us to step up and fill in that role."
Cates had played in 119 consecutive games to start his NHL career.
Morgan Frost and Bobby Brink had played in the same lineup only six times this season. That will change moving forward with Cates' absence. The Flyers currently have only 12 healthy forwards.
Here's how the Flyers' lineup looked at morning skate Tuesday. Six of the Flyers' top-nine forwards are 24 years old or younger.
Tyson Foerster-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Owen Tippett-Morgan Frost-Cam Atkinson
Joel Farabee-Ryan Poehling-Bobby Brink
Nicolas Deslauriers-Scott Laughton-Garnet Hathaway
Cam York-Travis Sanheim
Nick Seeler-Sean Walker
Marc Staal-Rasmus Ristolainen