PHILADELPHIA--The Philadelphia Flyers' injury-riddled roster was dealt another blow on Saturday night, losing forwards Geoff Sanderson and Mike Richards with potentially, serious injuries to their abdominal walls.
Both Sanderson and Richards went to the dressing room in the second period of Saturday night's 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals with what was initially termed an "abdominal strain" by team officials.
"They will probably have to be evaluated (Sunday) by a more, specialized doctor just to get a good idea about what we're dealing with here," said Flyers' head coach, John Stevens, adding that "when they can't finish a hockey game, that's not a good sign."
Paul Holmgren, the Flyers' general manager was more somber when asked about the early prognostics on his two players.
"(Sanderson and Richards) both seem to have what appear to be significant stomach injuries," said Holmgren.
"We'll know more tomorrow when we have a MRI done," said Holmgren, when asked if the preliminary diagnosis was a tear of the abdominal muscles or a less serious, strain of the abdomen.
Holmgren appeared to indicate the latter when asked if the injuries were serious enough that both players might require surgery.
"It may," Holmgren said, we won't know for sure, but it looks like that."
"(Richards) has been struggling with it a little bit," said Holmgren, but tonight was the straw that broke the camel's back."
After delivering 12 goals and 44 points in 2005-06, the Flyers' second-year player recently ended his streak of 40 games without a goal against Columbus on Nov.24.
Sanderson was third on the team in goals, assists, and total points, and had just returned to the lineup after missing the Flyers previous two games on Nov. 30 and Dec. 2 due to a mild groin strain sustained on Nov. 29 against Nashville.
Holmgren now finds himself in a numbers game that appears grim.
"I don't think we can have a knee-jerk reaction and give up our future...we're actively trying to strengthen our team without hurting them long-term, and we'll continue to do that," Holmgren said.
The Flyers' AHL-affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms are also playing with an injury-depleted roster, and there is no support at the ECHL level with the Trenton Titans, for either club.
"It's very difficult for (every team in the NHL) with the salary cap and posturing for the future, explained Holmgren, on the challenges faced in the post-lockout era.
"Obviously there are some teams that are in good shape so why would they do anything, but we are actively looking for help."
Earlier in the day, the Flyers recalled forward Stefan Ruzicka and defenceman Lars Jonsson to replace Joni Pitkanen and Sami Kapanen.
Stevens hopes to have both players in the Flyers' lineup for Tuesday's game against the New York Rangers.