At this point, as general manager Paul Holmgren puts it, the Flyers have lost about a player a game to injury.
The latest victim is defenseman Andrej Meszaros, who will miss about a month -- if not more -- with a left shoulder injury suffered late in the second period of Thursday's 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers. The affected area is the muscle around Meszaros' acromioclavicular (AC) joint, according to Holmgren.
This loss hurts. Meszaros has averaged over 18 minutes on the ice per night in this young 2013 season, and is one of the team's more versatile defensemen. Without him, the D, though large and tough, is far less mobile.
Holmgren, however, is electing to remain optimistic. The Flyers simply have to "try to get [Meszaros' shoulder] stronger."
"As far as being snakebitten with injuries ... I'm not sure we're much different than a lot of teams that are in the league," Holmgren said. "We've just got to fight through it and take the approach that it's opportunities for other players. ... That's just the way it's going to be. We've got to deal with it on a day-to-day basis, and I think the coaches have done a good job of that to date. But hopefully we can break this stream of losing a guy a game, and stay healthy."
Meszaros suffered a similar injury in March 2009, and underwent surgery. He played just 52 games in the 2008-09 season.
It appears Meszaros sustained his injury on a hit by Rangers captain Ryan Callahan in the closing seconds of Thursday's second period. He did not return to the game, and was seen with his left arm in a sling later that evening. It's an unfortunate injury for the 27-year-old, who had only just worked his way back from a torn Achilles sustained over the summer.
Hartnell underwent successful surgery on Friday to repair the first metatarsal in his left foot and is expected to miss the next four to six weeks.
"We're being tested, obviously, right now, which is good and bad," Holmgren said. "We'd like to get ourselves healthy. We know we're in for a dogfight in what we've got left in our schedule."
To fill the roster spot left vacant by Meszaros, the Flyers have recalled Andreas Lilja from the Adirondack Phantoms to serve as the team's seventh defenseman. Bruno Gervais and Kurtis Foster will likely both be in the lineup Saturday evening when the Flyers face the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, but Lilja will travel with the team.
"He's played very good for the Phantoms," Holmgren said. "He's a good guy, he's got lots of life to his game. I think he was real good for our young guys down there [in Glens Falls]. They got a chance to play with a guy who's been on a Stanley Cup champion team and been around a long time and shows enthusiasm and a real good attitude for the game. He's played well and we're happy to have him back."
But with Lilja and without Meszaros the defense gets older, slower and far less mobile. This is a situation where the club could really use Erik Gustafsson or Marc-Andre Bourdon, but both remain out with injuries.
Even further, with pairs being switched up as frequently as they are it's difficult for players to find necessary chemistry. Coach Peter Laviolette has already had to mix and match his D pairs for almost all of the Flyers' four games. A test, indeed.
Another injured Flyer, Danny Briere, is still 50/50 to return this weekend, Holmgren said.
"He's still a possibility Saturday, probably a better chance Sunday and an even better chance Tuesday," Holmgren said.