By Sally Fahey
So, the Flyers are home tonight for their first game at the Wells this season, and the question is:
How much will they miss winger James van Riemsdyk, who was reacquired as a free agent in the offseason and is now out five to six weeks due to a lower-body injury suffered when he blocked a clearing attempt Saturday at Colorado, according to the club?
Van Riemsdyk, who began his career with the Flyers, signed a five-year, $35 million deal in the offseason after he totaled 36 goals and 18 assists with the Maple Leafs in 2017-18.
“It’s a big loss, but it’s going to be other guys who are going to step up and fill some roles,” center Sean Couturier told Philly.com. “It’s just an opportunity for someone else.”
Hello, Jordan Weal, who will reportedly take van Riemsdyk’s spot on the third with rookie Mikhail Vorobyev and Wayne Simmonds.
The Flyers (1-1) split a pair of games out west to start the season. After opening with a 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights, the Flyers lost by that same score on Saturday to the Colorado Avalanche.
Goalie Brian Elliott stopped 30 of 34 shots while Couturier and Vorobyev scored their first goals of the season.
“We got two of the four points on the road, and for me, this was a game where points were available,” coach Dave Hakstol told Philly.com after Saturday’s loss. “I liked the fact we were cleaner and sharper with the puck (against the Avs) … but there are things we can clean up.”
The Sharks (1-2) were shut out 4-0 by the New York Islanders Monday in the second outing of their five-game road swing. The Islanders broke open a close contest with three third-period goals and Robin Lehner stopped 35 shots.
“It was a game that was winnable,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski told NHL.com. “It’s frustrating we don’t stick any in the net with some of the looks we had, some of the power plays, the kind of momentum we felt like we had. It’s one of those games every time you get that Grade A (chance), it seems to hit him in the chest or finds his pad.”
Martin Jones made 26 saves for the Sharks.
The Islanders broke on top with a second-period power play goal. The Sharks were 0-for-4 on the power play and are 0-for-10 through three games. The Islanders were 1-for-4.
“We got beat in special teams tonight and that’s an important piece of the game that we have to start being on the right side of the ledger on,” coach Pete DeBoer told the San Jose Mercury News, though he called the Sharks’ nine shots on goal with the man advantage “encouraging.”
The news was better off the ice for San Jose. DeBoer said before the game that the swelling in center Joe Thornton’s surgically repaired right knee is the result of an infection.
“Nothing structurally. It looks like an infection, put him on antibiotics,” DeBoer told the Mercury News before the games. “He should be fine.”
Thornton, who was placed on injured reserve, is not with team.