Right winger Cam Atkinson took part in his first full-contact practice of the season Monday, said he “felt really good,” and is close to returning to the Philadelphia Flyers’ injury-riddled lineup.
He is desperately needed.
Atkinson said he didn’t know if he would play Tuesday against the visiting Islanders, but a few minutes later, coach John Tortorella ruled him out for the game. That means the earliest Atkinson could play is Thursday vs. Tampa Bay at the Wells Fargo Center.
Still, the fact that the high-scoring Atkinson will play soon was good news for a Flyers team that has lost 10 straight.
“He’s definitely a guy who can score goals, make a lot of plays,” left winger Joel Farabee said after a long, grueling practice Monday at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees. “He’s someone we need offensively.”
The Philadelphia Flyers are last in the league in scoring, averaging 2.41 goals per game.
Atkinson, 33, hasn’t played this season because of an undisclosed upper-body injury. He said he has never had an injury like this one, but declined saying what it was. The diminutive winger smiled as he called it a “body injury.”
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) November 28, 2022
Gets physical with Risto
He felt healthy enough to bang into the much-bigger Rasmus Ristolainen during a corner battle in practice, and said the session was his first step toward returning to the lineup.
“I’m 1-0 with Risto,” Atkinson joked. “… I’m just trying to push myself to see how I do out there.”
Added Atkinson: “It’s obviously good to be back with the team. It’s definitely getting closer.”
Atkinson said he and the team were being cautious, but that he would return “sooner rather than later.” He said it was “good to be back with the guys and battling, and going through a lovely Torts practice.”
He called it a tough “training-camp practice” that will help his conditioning.
Atkinson, who traveled with the team for Saturday’s 5-2 loss at the New York Islanders, said the players were “staying positive” despite not winning since Nov. 8 against St. Louis, 5-1.
“We have a lot of guys who are hurt, and obviously that’s not an excuse, but we have to stick together and dig out of this ourselves,” he said.
A year ago, Atkinson scored 23 goals and won the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the team’s MVP.
Sedlak on top line
At practice, Lukas Sedlak centered Farabee and Kevin Hayes on the top line.
“It feels good … it’s always nice to be put in that position,” said Sedlak, who usually plays a bottom-six role.
Sedlak, 29, played on the No. 1 line in Russia’s KHL, where his scoring increased dramatically from his three years with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Plucked off waivers from Colorado earlier this season, he has two goals and five points in 18 games with the Flyers.
Egor Zamula was recalled from the Phantoms and will be in the lineup Tuesday, per Tortorella, who said he wants to develop some young defensemen this season. … Zamula has been told he will play the right side on on the third pairing, with Nick Seeler on the left. … Defenseman Tony DeAngelo is “banged up” and did not practice. Tortorella is hopeful he can play Tuesday.