Steve Downie hasn't played since suffering a concussion on Nov. 1. (USA Today Images)
Update: 5:25 p.m.
Steve Downie has played just 10:24 since he was traded to the Flyers, but that number seems to be on the verge of increasing.
Downie practiced on a line with Sean Couturier and Matt Read Monday. He has been cleared to play, but will be a game-time decision come Tuesday night in Ottawa against the Senators.
“We’re working on it,” Downie said. “Today was another step. We’ve got some more talking to do.”
Downie sustained a concussion during a fight with Washington Capitals winger Aaron Volpatti Nov. 1, the very first game of his second stint with the Flyers. His left eye remains bloodied and the area around it heavily bruised, but Downie says he’s feeling better.
Monday marked his third practice since the fight -- the first time he took regular reps on a single line. He’s still wearing a helmet with a full cage.
“You definitely don’t have legs the first couple days,” Downie said. “But I’ve been skating for three days, so they’re coming. It’s a slow process, but it’s definitely coming.”
In the sole game in which he did appear, Downie skated on a line with Claude Giroux and Vinny Lecavalier. That will change, whether or not he returns Tuesday. Giroux practiced with the line he’s spent the past two games playing with Monday, alongside Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek.
As for Downie, the new line means it’s time for a crash course in the Flyers’ third unit and Couturier’s playing style.
“I don’t know too much about [Couturier],” Downie said. “He’s a pretty honest centerman, a two-way player, pretty good defensively. So I’m excited. I don’t know too much about the players, so we’ll see.”
Downie will meet with Flyers trainers and coaches later Monday. Coach Craig Berube said Downie “doesn’t look bad” despite the scary injury and his lack of playing time. Monday’s practice was particularly upbeat, and Downie was able to keep up.
And when he does return, no matter where Downie plays within the lineup, his teammates are looking forward to the spark he’s known for bringing on the ice.
“Just the way he plays, he gets the guys going,” Giroux said. “He’s a smart player, too, so to have him back in the lineup, I think he’s going to bring a lot of offense and defense.”
If Downie returns in time for Tuesday, it’s likely the odd man out will be forward Michael Raffl, whom the team signed this summer and recalled from the Adirondack Phantoms Oct. 12. Raffl played just 13:20 in Saturday’s home win over the Edmonton Oilers and has played less than 12 minutes twice in his last five games.
Raffl did not practice Monday, but according to general manager Paul Holmgren, that’s because he was “under the weather.” Raffl did make the trip to Ottawa. He has just one assist and is a minus-2 in 11 games with the Flyers.
Downie, in his half game as a Flyer, is minus-1 with two shots and 17 penalty minutes.