Late in the second period against the Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Marc Staal collided with Warren Foegele and suffered what is currently being referred to as an upper-body injury.
Staal did not return for the third period after favoring his arm and midsection on the bench, and The Fourth Period’s Anthony Di Marco reports that the veteran blueliner is expected to miss 4-6 weeks of action. Staal was playing fairly regular minutes for the Flyers up until that point, even as the team had established a rotation between young defenseman Yegor Zamula and Emil Andrae.
Rasmus Ristolainen should be returning from injured reserve soon, so the Flyers won’t necessarily be throwing both Andrae and Zamula into the lineup full-time just yet. The latter has played particularly well in his appearances to date, so maybe Ristolainen draws in for someone like Nick Seeler to allow Zamula or Andrae to play on their natural left-hand side.
Staal’s impact on the Flyers
Staal had played under head coach John Tortorella for many years with the New York Rangers, and as a 36-year-old, his purpose was primarily to be a player-coach and help learn the system on some of the younger and less experienced players. Forward Cam Atkinson had also played under Tortorella with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the last time he was healthy his coach hadn’t arrived in Philadelphia yet. During that time in Columbus, though, Atkinson scored 40 goals for the first and only time in his NHL career.
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For the next month or so, the Flyers will definitely miss Staal – no doubt about it. But by now, the young players should have a good enough grip on their responsibilities to perform well in his stead. Ristolainen’s anticipated return will help further ease those concerns, as well as Sean Couturier’s return to Selke Trophy-winning form after a year away from the Flyers.