Newest Flyer Johnny Oduya, the defenseman picked up on waivers from Ottawa before the trade deadline, did not practice Wednesday as had been expected.
Visa problems apparently delayed his arrival.
“I’m not sure when he will get into town,’’ Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “It’s all a matter of logistics. He’ll get out as soon as possible.’’
Oduya, 36, was likely to sit out Thursday night’s game against Carolina at the Wells Fargo Center even before the delayed arrival. The Flyers have allowed six goals over their last four victories and are 10-0-2 over their last 12 games.
“We’ll see where he fits into our group of seven,’’ Hakstol said. “I said it when we were able to add him to our group. We’re really happy with our group of six. The pairs have fit together very well. We have some good chemistry there. So we’ll be cautious with any changes we make.’’
The Flyers’ 26-8-3 record since snapping their 10-game winless streak is among the NHL’s three best in that span, along with Boston and Las Vegas. They have climbed from the bottom of the division to the top in that span, and are jockeying with Washington and Pittsburgh for the top three spots in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference.
Like another team from around here, the Flyers have been impressively resilient during the run. They are on their fourth goaltender, Petr Mrazek, who was the primary reason they won in Montreal on Monday night. Earlier in the season, their defense went through a rash of injuries and a suspension, and they are playing without Wayne Simmonds, their power forward who is recovering from what has been described as a lower-body injury. Only over the last month or so has rookie Nolan Patrick emerged to resemble the player he was expected to be, and Travis Konecny, after a disappointing first half, has become an explosive and valued two-way player.
In essence, Oduya, who won two Stanley Cups with Chicago, replaced defenseman Mark Alt, who was claimed off waivers by Colorado before the deadline. A 12-year veteran who has also played with New Jersey, Atlanta, Winnipeg and Dallas, Oduya has been involved in 106 playoff games over his career. Although Oduya has struggled this season, Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told reporters eight days ago that he had played his best hockey for the Senators in recent weeks.
His most likely landing stop if inserted in the lineup would be in a third-line pairing with Radko Gudas in place of Brandon Manning. Manning has played regularly since returning from a broken hand in late December, triggering the eventual demotion of talented but mistake-prone rookie Travis Sanheim to Lehigh Valley.
Manning has had his issues at times, as has Gudas. Both have played well, particularly over the last few games, and on Wednesday, the coach lauded their “veteran presence.’’
“The chemistry they’ve built with that presence has been very important to our team,” Hakstol added. “They defend hard. They’ve been a pretty efficient pair back there. And when you begin to see that chemistry come together, that’s real important to have that reliability that pair brings for our group.’’
Ghost the grappler
For the second time in eight days, Shayne Gostisbehere went after a player who had taken a run at Travis Konecny. Against the Rangers on Feb. 18, Gostisbehere received his first fighting major for a grappling match with Pavel Buchnevich. On Monday night, he squared off with Montreal’s Max Pacioretty, receiving a matching roughing minor.
So is he the Flyers’ new enforcer?
“Definitely not,’’ Ghost said.
“I’m in trouble if he is,’’ captain Claude Giroux said.
“Oh, gawd,’’ Hakstol said. “We don’t need that to be a trend.’’
At least one player was appreciative.
“We all stick up for each other,’’ Konecny said. “I’d do the same for him.’’