The Philadelphia Flyers are getting closer to having both Ryan Ellis and Kevin Hayes back in the lineup, two of the team’s most important players. Head coach Alain Vigneault explained today that the earliest Hayes would get back in the lineup is next Tuesday, but Ellis is ahead of that schedule and could even have an outside chance at playing tomorrow. If Ellis did play, he wouldn’t immediately jump up to the top pairing; Vigneault explained that the team would have to ease him in.
Ellis has played just three games for the Flyers this season, but had four points in those contests and averaged more than 24 minutes of ice time. The 30-year-old defenseman was acquired from the Nashville Predators in the offseason and was expected to carry a huge load at both ends of the rink. Hayes meanwhile is the team’s second-highest-paid player but hasn’t seen the ice at all as he continues to recover from offseason surgery. The 29-year-old had 12 goals and 31 points in 55 games last season and is a key option down the middle for the club.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs had a few absences at today’s practice, most notably captain John Tavares. Head coach Sheldon Keefe indicated that Tavares is day-to-day and a game-time decision for tomorrow’s match with the Flyers, according to Mark Masters of TSN. Ondrej Kase has the same designation, and is also a game-time decision for the Maple Leafs. With Petr Mrazek out, the Maple Leafs have the cap space to carry a pair of extra forwards and are expected to bring Joey Anderson and Kirill Semyonov to Philadelphia.
- The Montreal Canadiens won’t have Jonathan Drouin back in the lineup tonight despite his appearance at the morning skate, while both Christian Dvorak and Josh Anderson are questionable for the game against the Los Angeles Kings. The Canadiens have lost their last two and have just three wins in 13 games so far this season. That puts them at the very bottom of the Atlantic Division table, just a few months after reaching the Stanley Cup Finals. A lineup without Drouin, Dvorak, and Anderson would certainly be put to the test by the Kings, who are currently on the league’s longest winning streak.