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Time to Start Worrying About Flyers’ Cam Atkinson for Opener?

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Cam Atkinson, Rasmus Ristolainen, Philadelphia Flyers
Cam Atkinson (left) and Rasmus Ristolainen enjoy a moment at a Flyers practice last season. Photo: Zack Hill.

Cam Atkinson, the diminutive right winger who won the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the Philadelphia Flyers’ MVP last season, did not play in any of the team’s six exhibition games this year because of an unspecified injury.

In three different news conference’s new coach John Tortorella has downplayed Atkinson’s injury, saying he expected him to be ready for Thursday’s opener against visiting New Jersey.

But Atkinson, 33, again missed practice Monday, and you wonder if the injury has lingered and he will be sidelined at the start of the season.

The Flyers are off Tuesday and have one more full practice, Wednesday, before they face the Devils. Atkinson will be on the ice with the team Wednesday.

“I’m still optimistic,” Tortorella said after Monday’s practice in Voorhees. “He’s working out on his own; he’s back in town today. (He’ll) practice with us on Wednesday. His conditioning level is good, so, yeah, I’m optimistic.”

Working in Atkinson’s favor: He played for Tortorella in Columbus and knows his system.

Working against him: Can he really be in game shape after missing so much time? He has been taking part in some rehab skates.

“Just like with all the guys, we just want to make sure they’re healthy for the opening part of the season,” Tortorella said, explaining why Atkinson hasn’t practiced. “We’re just trying to be careful.”

Cates & Cates: Good News, Bad News for Flyers’ Centers

Atkinson had been getting assistance from the Philadelphia Flyers’ medical staff and from someone who worked with him when he played in Columbus, Tortorella said.

Atkinson finished with 23 goals last season despite missing the last nine games with an unspecified injury.

Practice lines, pairings, goalies

Here’s how the Flyers looked at Monday’s practice.

Kevin Hayes centering Scott Laughton and Travis Konecny.

Morgan Frost center James van Riemsdyk and Wade Allison.

Noah Cates centering Joel Farabee and Owen Tippett.

Tanner Laczynski centering Nic Deslauriers and Hayden Hodgson.

Defense

Pair 1: Ivan Provorov and Tony DeAngelo.

Pair 2: Travis Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen.

Pair 3: Nick Seeler and Justin Braun.

Pair 4: Egor Zamula and Ronnie Attard.

Goalies: Carter Hart, Felix Sandstrom, Samuel Ersson.

Breakaways

The Flyers will pare down their roster by 5 p.m. Monday. They still have three goalies (Hart, Sandstrom, Ersson) in camp. They could go with three goalies on the roster, or send Ersson to the Phantoms. (Sandstrom would have to clear waivers.) They also will likely send Zamula and/or Attard to Lehigh Valley. They sent Jackson Cates to the Phantoms earlier Monday and have 13 forwards left in camp, including Atkinson. … The Flyers will next practice Wednesday in Voorhees at 11 a.m. They will hold Thursday’s morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center to help them get used to the boards.

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