Flyers Notes: JVR to Return; Betts Recovering; Gagne Takes Trip To Doc's

Bleacher ReportAnalyst IOctober 13, 2009

The Philadelphia Flyers have the next four days off before their next game on Friday night against the Panthers in Florida. From a fan's point of view, it’ll be difficult to not have any hockey to watch until the weekend; however it’s the best thing for the Orange ‘n Black.

Rookie forward James van Riemsdyk, who left in the second period of the game against Washington after taking a hefty hit from defenseman Milan Jurcina, will return to the lineup.

Van Riemsdyk had been held out of the previous two games on precautionary circumstances as there was really no point to play JVR this early with a head injury. In the first three games of the season, the 20-year-old winger recorded three assists and was the team’s leading scorer after the first two games.

When he does make it back to the lineup, van Riemsdyk may find himself some new linemates as Claude Giroux has been bumped from the third line center to first line winger and certainly doesn’t look as if he’s going to be demoted back to third-line duties.

According to Tim Panaccio, center Blair Betts told him that he could return next Thursday against the Bruins in Philadelphia.

Betts, who signed a one-year contract after earning a spot on the roster on a pro tryout, dislocated his shoulder in the last minute of regulation against the Capitals, and was initially told he would miss at least four weeks.

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He injured his right shoulder, which he had dislocated before while playing for the Rangers. It occurred on a faceoff in which he fell after losing the draw only to land awkwardly on the shoulder.

For some, the idea of the loss of a fourth line center being a big deal is somewhat mind-blowing since most bottom-nine forwards are interchangeable; however Betts will play a huge role for the Flyers.

Betts has been the team’s best penalty killer in the first three games, and won 25-of-50 faceoffs for a 50 percent mark—which is the highest among any Flyers’ center with at least 40 faceoffs. Not only was he valuable on the PK, Betts allowed John Stevens to rotate all four lines without hesitation.

In the first three games, the line of Dan Carcillo-Betts-Ian Laperriere was a line that created a ton of energy, and surprisingly, scoring chances. The same pressure wasn’t existent when Riley Cote and Arron Asham—who was filling in for van Riemsdyk—were in the lineup.

Whether or not Betts is back in the lineup next Thursday against Boston is still up in the air, but just knowing that he’s healing ahead of schedule is a good thing because the Flyers really can’t afford to miss him for any longer than the diagnosed four weeks.

Chuck Gormley of the Courier Post reported that Simon Gagne went to the doctor today with head trainer Jim McCrossin because he has been experiencing “tightness” in his groin, which he pulled in the Olympic training camp.

Gagne has yet to score a goal this season, but has three assists. The most concerning thing about Gagne is that he isn’t showing the same step he did in his comeback season last year in which he potted 34 goals after an injury-plagued 2008-09 campaign.

While the Flyers may have the depth to survive the loss of a Betts and van Riemsdyk for a short period of time, the Orange ‘n Black cannot afford to lose a top player like Gagne to injury. That’s one negative about this year’s version of the Orange ‘n Black; not a lot of depth.

Gormley also proposes the idea that Gags may have reinjuredthe groin in today’s hard practice as it has been reported that Stevens held some hard sprints after practice, which wasn’t “meant” as punishment for blowing a 2-0 lead in the third period against Anaheim to lose in the shootout.

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