Brayden Schenn will be in the lineup Thursday, only 48 hours after a hit by Tom Wilson that forced him from a game against the Washington Capitals. (USA Today Images)
Less than 48 hours ago, Brayden Schenn took a scary hit from Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson that sent him head-first into the back boards and forced him from the game.
But tonight, Schenn will be in the lineup when the Flyers host the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Even he's surprised he is able to play.
"I really am," Schenn said. "I feel blessed and lucky with what happened. I don’t think I’ve ever gone head-first into the boards -- I’ve put my shoulder, elbow, something in the way first. I think I got real lucky on that play."
Lucky is likely an understatement. After Wilson's hit Tuesday night, Schenn tried and failed three times to get up under his own power. He was helped off the ice by a trainer, and brought to the Flyers' locker room to be examined. Wilson, who received a five-minute major for charging and was tossed from the game, is scheduled to have a phone hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety sometime today. He faces a possible suspension.
Nonetheless, the Flyers' forward escaped relatively unscathed.
"I talked to him yesterday and he was feeling better already," coach Craig Berube said. "So we thought we’d wait 'til today and see how he felt this morning and get him on the ice. He seems fine."
Schenn said he doesn't feel limited at all, though he still remains sore in his upper-back and neck. He took part in the Flyers' morning skate and wasn't bothered by the lingering effects of the hit.
"I’m going to be sore for another couple days, maybe a week," he said. "When you have an impact like that, your whole body has to get realigned, readjusted. I’ve got a little stiffness, but I feel good. Head’s good, that’s the main thing."
Surprising to many, Schenn never took a concussion test, either immediately after the game against the Capitals or on Wednesday. He was examined by team doctors according to league protocol, he said, but it didn't make sense to take a concussion test Tuesday night because he knew he wasn't going to attempt to return to the game and he felt OK.
"I know [it looked] bad," he said. "But at the same time, with the baseline [concussion test], I knew I wasn’t going back out there. It was just a feel thing. See how I felt the next day, if I needed to take a concussion test the next day, I would have done it. But since I wasn’t going back out there, I wasn’t going to go play, [the doctors] said see how you feel tomorrow and we’ll go from there."
When he woke up Wednesday, he felt symptom-free and better than he expected. This morning, he felt even better.
Schenn said the Flyers' doctors and trainers "did a good job," and that there shouldn't be any concerns with his returning to the ice so soon. If there was any chance he wasn't feeling up to playing, he insisted, he simply would not be playing.
"If I was limited or thinking ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do that out there,’ I shouldn’t be playing," Schenn said. "It’d just put me in a bad situation and everyone else in a bad situation. I feel good, and if I felt like I’m not ready, I’m going to say something."
With a win tonight, the Flyers would finally bring their record above .500 -- by the NHL's definition, anyway (they're currently 15-15-4).
There's a significance to being above .500, beyond simply raking in some much-needed points, according to the Flyers' coach.
"I think so," Berube said. "Obviously we need two points. I think psychologically, you look at where you’re at in the standings, and you get above .500, and it seems like you’re on the right track. It’s important. We need the two points. It’s going to be a tough game -- they’re a very hard-working team over there."
Mason vs. Columbus
As expected, Steve Mason gets the start tonight against his former team, the team with which he won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 2008-09.
Flyers goalies don't speak to the media in the morning on game days, but Berube is confident facing the Blue Jackets will light a little extra fire under Mason.
"I’m sure he’s got a lot of different feelings going on inside of him, he played there for five years or six years," Berube said. "Facing his old team and stuff, I’m sure he’s got a lot of desire to beat them."
And Voracek, too
It isn't just Mason who'll be facing off against his former team tonight. Jakub Voracek, too, played for the Blue Jackets, from 2008 until he was traded to the Flyers in 2011.
There's been a lot of turnover in Columbus since then (Voracek says he knows only about four current Blue Jackets these days), but he's still excited to play them -- both tonight and Saturday, when the Flyers travel to Ohio for the second half of a home-and-home.
"I played against Columbus two years ago here," Voracek said. "So obviously it’s going to be a little different, but I’m very excited about Saturday, though, playing in Columbus. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, though. We’ve got a big game coming up tonight and I want to focus on that."