With Ellis in line to return, Flyers have one more challenge without him


If all goes as planned, the Flyers will get Ryan Ellis back in their lineup this weekend.

But before they do, they'll have one more test without the top-pair defenseman.

To open a back-to-back road set, the Flyers (6-3-2) visit the Hurricanes (10-1-0) on Friday.

Let's get into the essentials for the game:

  • When: 7 p.m. ET with The Warm Up at 6 p.m. ET and Flyers Pregame Live at 6:15 p.m. ET
  • Where: PNC Arena
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
  • Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers won't have Ellis (lower body) for a ninth straight game Friday, but the all-situation blueliner appears on track for his return Saturday against the Stars (8 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

"I'm very, very optimistic that he'll be able to play Saturday," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Thursday after practice.

Ellis practiced Tuesday, took part in morning skate Wednesday and practiced Thursday. Given his nagging issue and the time he has been out, the Flyers don't want to throw Ellis into a full back-to-back situation.

"He's missed three weeks, has had a few real good practices," Vigneault said. "Had a good discussion with him prior to stepping on the ice, talked about the different possibilities and we just feel that with today's practice, another skate tomorrow in Carolina and he should be good to go on Saturday."

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• The Flyers are in a mini offensive funk, having scored only 1.40 goals per game over their last five games, a stretch in which they've been blanked twice.

Breaking out of the funk won't come easily.

The Hurricanes are allowing an NHL-low 1.91 goals per game and sport a league-best plus-20 goal differential. Carolina's only loss has come to the 10-2-2 Panthers.

"They have a lot of speed and skill up front," Rasmus Ristolainen said. "I know a couple of those guys, so we've got to be really careful and play tight and hard."

• The Flyers put up a costly 0-for-4 performance on the power play in their 3-0 loss Wednesday night to the Maple Leafs.

Their man advantage looked out of sync and produced only four shots.

After practice Thursday, Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson spent extra time discussing setups.

"We're just drawing up some plays," Atkinson said. "Those guys are very skilled. I think you just let your skill take over and the let the puck do most of the work. When you start gripping it a little bit too hard, that's when you start forcing plays. We talked about that a little bit, just getting pucks to the net, causing some traffic and havoc and try to get a greasy goal. Sometimes that's the best thing for you."

Giroux and Couturier are in their 11th season together. Atkinson is in his first season with the Flyers after scoring 213 goals through 10 seasons with the Blue Jackets.

"I like to listen, I'm a good listener," Atkinson said. "And when I think there's a need to speak up, I will. There's a reason why those guys are playing together, they get paid a lot of money and have scored and produced a lot of points. So I listen to them. And it's all reads, as well. I've been around long enough where I'll read off them. If I think I need to speak up, I will, but allow their skill to take over."

Projected lineup



Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny

Oskar Lindblom-Derick Brassard-Cam Atkinson

Joel Farabee-Scott Laughton-James van Riemsdyk

Nate Thompson-Patrick Brown-Zack MacEwen


Ivan Provorov-Justin Braun

Travis Sanheim-Rasmus Ristolainen

Keith Yandle-Nick Seeler


Carter Hart

Martin Jones

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