UPDATE (1:35 p.m.): Brayden Schenn has a broken left foot and will be out 4 to 6 weeks, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said.
Schenn injured his foot when he blocked a shot by P.K. Subban on Wednesday night in Montreal. Schenn hobbled off the ice but finished the game. He was seen limping after the game.
The Flyers also have recalled defenseman Erik Gustafsson and forward Zac Rinaldo.
Rinaldo's recall raised a few eyebrows at first but not when it was learned Schenn would be out a few weeks.
By our math, that means Andreas Nodl would return to the lineup in Schenn's place and Rinaldo would likely be the healthy scratch at forward.
We'll have more after the team's first media availability of the day at 4:30 p.m.
MONTREAL – Wednesday night’s loss in Toronto was obviously a tough night for the Flyers’ defense, in their first regular season contest without Chris Pronger since last April.
Matt Walker was on the ice for two crucial goals-against, on back-to-back shifts that spanned nearly 13 minutes of actual game time over two periods. In all, Walker played just 7:20.
Andreas Lilja saw a little more time, clocking in at 15:49. That left the bulk of the work to Braydon Coburn (25:30), Matt Carle (23:17), Kimmo Timonen (22:17), Andrej Meszaros (21:02). Coburn and Timonen were the Flyers’ only defensemen able to stay out of the minus column.
So, while Pronger remains off the ice for the foreseeable future while nursing his eye injury, what are the Flyers’ options on defense?
With such a short turnaround – the Flyers are back on the ice tonight against Winnipeg – Peter Laviolette’s hands are largely tied.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren was not with the team in Montreal, unavailable to comment as he is on a scouting trip.
With the Flyers strapped against the salary cap (they are actually one of two NHL teams to be exceeding the current $64.3 million cap, only remaining cap compliant with the use of long-term injury exceptions), they cannot fit another player under the daily cap without first making a move to demote a current player.
Walker, 31, would be the most likely to be demoted.
Out of Walker's 7 minutes and 20 seconds of ice time, a full 1:42 of that came in the final 3 minutes of a four-goal game.
His $1.7 cap hit has made him an easy target in the past. Since Walker cleared waivers on Oct. 6, to start the season, he could be freely sent to Adirondack without having to clear again, as long as it is within 30 days of his original clearing.
Even then, the Flyers’ options remain limited on the return.
Phantoms defenseman Oskars Bartulis, for one, would need to clear re-entry before being able to join the team. Since that process takes a full 24 hours – in a period from noon to noon, to allow all 29 other teams an opportunity to claim – Bartulis would not be an option for tonight’s game.
Erik Gustafsson, 22, who had a strong training camp and played 3 games with the Flyers last year, is another option. He does not need waivers to be re-called. As stated earlier, another player would need to be moved to create room for Gustafsson’s $900,000 cap hit.
What does all of that mean? With limited options and such a short window in between games, the Flyers will likely be stuck with the same defensive lineup for tonight’s game against Winnipeg.
It's clear that a move needs to be made. That is not opinion, rather just an observation based on Laviolette's use of his depth defensemen. Prior to absolutely needing both Walker and Lilja on Wednesday for the first time, the two had been swapped in and out of the lineup interchangeably.
Without singling anyone out, Laviolette made it clear on Wednesday night that he wasn't pleased with the puck play in front of his own net.
"I think four of the five goals were the direct result of turnovers," Laviolette said. "You've really got to know what you're doing with the puck. Turnovers, in any sport, will kill you. We made bad decisions and it came back immediately, the other way, and in our net."
Even if it’s just temporary, those minutes are a lot to ask of your core of 4 defensemen on a nightly basis, especially on the back-end of a stretch of 9 games in 17 days... when it’s still October.
JETS WAITING: Despite not landing back home until 1:06 a.m., the Flyers had tonight’s opponent already waiting for them in their Philadelphia hotel beds. Tonight will be the Flyers’ first crack at the new-look Atlanta Thrashers, err Winnipeg Jets.
It also wraps up the Flyers’ first of 13 back-to-back sets of games this season.
The Jets have had a tough start to the season, both at home and on the road, as they’ve played a lot like the old Thrashers – just wish new uniforms. Winnipeg is still searching for their first win (0-3-1) away from the MTS Centre this season. Tonight is the beginning of a 7-game trip for the Jets.
“We don’t fear going on the road,” Jets rookie coach Claude Noel told the Winnipeg Sun. “We just have to continue doing things the right way. I think we’re taking steps in the right direction. If you’re going to be a playoff team, you have to be able to win on the road.”
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers