After an embarrassing 7-1 loss on Saturday night to the Florida Panthers, some lineup tweaks for the Philadelphia Flyers' rematch against those same Panthers were expected. While much of the loss could be pinned on a terrible performance by goalie Steve Mason, a lopsided score gave coach Dave Hakstol the justification to swap an underperforming starter for one of the many options up in the press box.
It looks like Hakstol will indeed be shaking up the roster tonight.
At practice this morning, NHL.com's Adam Kimelman reported that Sam Gagner, Vincent Lecavalier and Radko Gudas were skating as presumptive starters, while R.J. Umberger, Ryan White and Evgeni Medvedev were out.
Flyers lines: Raffl-Giroux-Voracek, Read-Laughtob-Simmonds, BSchenn-Couturier-Gagner, VandeVelde-Bellemare-Lecavalier— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) October 12, 2015
Flyers defense- Schultz-Streit, Manning-LSchenn, Del Zotto-Gudas— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) October 12, 2015
Then, later in practice, it was reported by Jeff Neiburg of the Philadelphia Daily News that Medvedev was skating with the second power play unit - an odd decision by Hakstol if the Russian blueliner was truly out of the lineup for tonight's game.
Finally, Ron Hextall and Dave Hakstol provided clarification. Hextall confirmed that Umberger would miss the game with an upper body injury. While Hextall reassured the beat writers present that the injury was not related to the issues that slowed him dramatically in 2014-15, it's obviously concerning that Umberger is already banged up so early in the season.
Umberger is viewed as "day-to-day."
Replacing Umberger will be Sam Gagner, who makes his Flyers regular season debut after being scratched for the first two games of the season. Gagner was the team's biggest addition at forward in the offseason, and he'll be a welcome infusion of skill to the line combinations.
Radko Gudas also appears primed to make his season debut. Gudas struggled in preseason but has historically performed at the level of a solid third pairing defenseman. Per Dave Hakstol, Gudas will replace Luke Schenn in the lineup, leaving Medvedev safe for now.
Schenn and Gudas are statistically similar players - bruising defensemen who surprisingly provide more value in terms of shot creation than shot prevention. If Gudas has earned a spot in the lineup, Schenn was the obvious choice to sit.
The only remaining question is whether Vincent Lecavalier will replace Ryan White on the fourth line. That decision may wait until pregame line rushes, however.
With starting goalie Steve Mason also out due to personal family-related issues, the Flyers are dealing with a surprising amount of lineup turnover this early in the season. It remains to be seen if this is the start of a trend that will last all year, as Hakstol tries to squeeze the most out of a limited roster.