Flyers' Much-Maligned Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen Suffers Setback

He hasn't played yet this season, and now it doesn't seem like Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen is even close. According to head coach John Tortorella, the veteran blueliner—often a magnet of consternation amongst Flyers fans—has taken a step back in his recovery process from an undisclosed ailment. 

It was called a minor injury when it first occurred during the early stages of camp, but something, apparently, isn't healing for the Flyers' top-four defenseman. "We’re in the process of trying to figure it out, but it didn’t go in the right direction," said Tortorella. "We thought it was getting better and now we’re not sure where it’s at.”

Two weeks ago, Ristolainen was placed on injured reserve, and was thought to be expected to miss just the first three games of the season. But here we are, six games in, and he isn't expected back for the time being. 

No worry for the Flyers at this point, however, as they've gotten off to a better-than-expected start, at 3-2-1, allowing just 16 goals against in those six games. 

After a rough start to the season last year, and multiple clashes with Torts, Ristolainen returned to a top-four pairing with a strong second half. His 20-point output was still a far cry from his many 40-point seasons in his heyday with the Buffalo Sabres, but he actually turned into a solid defensive defenseman as the season played out last year, for the first time in his career. 

For now, the Flyers will have to continue on without him indefinitely. 

Photo: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports