Flyers Notes | Injuries clouding off-season plans

Flyers Notes

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - In the month since the NHL trading deadline passed and the Flyers began to reshape the team, the team's brass has tried to evaluate what they have so they can go into the off-season with a clear picture of their needs.

But it hasn't been easy. Except for a brief stretch early this month, they have rarely had all hands on deck because of injuries to significant players.

Last night, the Flyers took on New Jersey without forwards Scottie Upshall and Mike Richards, and defenseman Denis Gauthier. They went into the game with 271 man-games lost to injury.

"What makes it difficult is you want to set players in their roles and where they fall in terms of responsibility to the line they're playing on," coach John Stevens said before the game at the Continental Airlines Arena. "There's only been a short time we've been able to do that."

Stevens felt the Flyers were gathering a little momentum when they won three of five games early this month.

"But we got people hurt and other people have had to step up and play more minutes," Stevens said. "One night you're asked to do one thing, one night another. But I still think it creates an opportunity to look at different players in different situations."

Stevens held out hope that Upshall, who has missed five of the last six games with a shoulder injury, could play tonight against the New York Rangers at the Wachovia Center. Upshall and Richards skated yesterday.

"Scottie looked much better," Stevens said. "Richie looks like he's a little further behind." Richards missed his fourth consecutive game with a separated left shoulder.

Parent to report

Ryan Parent, the 18-year-old defenseman obtained in the Peter Forsberg deal, will report to the Phantoms tomorrow and begin training with the Flyers' AHL affiliate. Parent, whose junior season ended when the Guelph Storm were eliminated from the Ontario Hockey League playoffs, may play before the end of the season. But general manager Paul Holmgren said he first must pass a physical.

- Ray Parrillo