Philadelphia Flyers rookie center Nolan Patrick withstood a scary head hit Tuesday and is ready to play in Thursday’s game in Ottawa.
“I don’t know if it’s scary. It’s part of the game,” Patrick said after practicing with the team Wednesday in Voorhees and showing no ill effects. “It happens fast, and I’m fine.”
Patrick was knocked into the glass head-first when checked into the corner boards by Chris Wagner with 17 minutes, 25 seconds left in the second period of Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to Anaheim.
“I have to protect myself better,” said Patrick, who has a goal, two assists, and a plus-2 rating in nine games.
Selected No. 2 overall in the June draft, Patrick looked wobbly and was helped to the locker room after the clean shoulder-to-shoulder hit. The 19-year-old center did not return to action. He apparently passed a concussion test, and he said he was ready to play Thursday.
Coach Dave Hakstol said it was good to have Patrick on the ice Wednesday, “especially for a young guy coming off a night like that. You want him back in practice the next day, being sharp and working on his game. I thought Nolan was doing that today.”
Based on Wednesday’s practice, the Flyers will again shake up their defensive pairings, including a new-look top unit: Ivan Provorov and puck-moving Shayne Gostisbehere.
The other two pairings have some familiarity — Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg, who were together with the Phantoms, and Brandon Manning and Radko Gudas.
If he stays with Provorov, Gostisbehere will slide to the right side.
“Guys have to step up and get out of their comfort zone and play some roles that normally you wouldn’t play,” said Gostisbehere, adding that he prefers the right side “because you can be more aggressive with our game plan.”
The Flyers are juggling their defense because of the loss of Andrew MacDonald, who is expected to miss at least four weeks with a leg injury. He had been on the top pairing with Provorov.
“We’re just trying to find the right combinations now, and obviously we’re going to try some things out,” Gostisbehere said. “When you lose a big guy like Mac ... who is an everyday guy and plays a lot of minutes, it’s tough. Guys have to step in and fill some roles, and everyone has to react.”
For most of Tuesday’s game, the Flyers had Provorov with Hagg, Gostisbehere with Gudas, and Manning with Sanheim.
Michal Neuvirth, who leads the NHL with a 1.36 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage, will make his fourth start on Thursday.
Neuvirth watched Tuesday’s loss and said, “It seems like we are having a tougher time with the bigger teams. ... We got out-battled a lot of times in front of our net and behind our net. We had a tough time in our D zone” when matched against Ryan Getzlaf’s bruising line.
How do you counter that?
“I’m not a coach,” Neuvirth said. “My job is to stop pucks.”
Notes: Wayne Simmonds was being “evaluated” for an injury, according to a club official, and was not at practice. Simmonds apparently has been battling foot, groin, and mouth injuries. ... The Flyers still have not recalled an extra defenseman for the two-game road trip.....Hakstol confirmed that Taylor Leier has been healthy for a few days. The coach used Dale Weise over Leier in Tuesday’s game.....Cherry Hill’s Bobby Ryan is expected to miss a month for Ottawa (4-1-4) because of a broken right index finger. It’s the fifth straight year the right winger has had a hand injury.