NEW YORK – Flyers defenseman Christian Folin, aware he was supposed to be a healthy scratch in Monday’s home game against Winnipeg, ate a big meal at 6 o’clock that evening and planned to get to the Wells Fargo Center near the the start of the 7 p.m. matchup.
He would sit in the press box, like he had for the previous three games, and watch from high above the ice.
And then his cellphone rang at 6:34 p.m. It was trainer Jim McCrossin. Get to the rink, Folin was told as he walked through the lobby of his Center City residence. He was replacing the injured Shayne Gostisbehere.
“I just jumped in my car and drove over,” he said.
When he got to the arena, Folin had to weave through fans who had congregated outside. There was no time to mingle. “I said to them, ‘Actually, I have to get in there. I’ve got a game,’ ” he said.
He missed warmups, and the food he had just eaten “was close to coming up” after his first few shifts. But he persevered, picked up a key assist in the Flyers' impressive 3-1 win, contributed two blocked shots and two hits, and, according to interim coach Scott Gordon, “played one of his best games since I’ve been here.”
“I’ve never experienced anything like that,” Folin said before he and his teammates faced the New York Rangers on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. “It was a quick challenge, and I think I tackled that challenge pretty well. It’s something I’ll look back on when I’m older and say, ‘That’s a pretty cool thing – playing a game after being home and hanging out all day.' I went grocery shopping and all that stuff, just like a normal day.”
Folin said during every TV timeout, “I had to take a few laps to get skating a little bit because I hadn’t touched my skates since I was skating in the morning. I had to get out there and get a feel for it.”
He took some good-natured jabs from his teammates during the game.
“It was all in good fun and I think it actually helped me relax, too,” he said.
Gostisbehere suffered a bruise in Monday’s morning skate and aggravated it during pregame warmups, Gordon said. “He felt like he didn’t have any push-off,” Gordon said.
The defenseman missed his second straight game Tuesday, but Gordon said the injury wasn’t serious and he expected Gostisbehere to return either Thursday in Boston or Saturday against visiting Edmonton.