The timing couldn't have been better for Evander Kane's return.
The forward was activated from injured reserve Friday in time for the Thrashers' game against Philadelphia.
Kane has missed three games, including the past two, with a mid-body injury. After taking two days off and practicing two days this week, he declared himself fit to play.
"I hope he really is ready," Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said. "He said he was. We need him to play. We need him to skate and play physically. [Friday night] against a team as big and strong as the Flyers, we have to be physically ready. He can do that. He's ready to go and excited about playing."
Kane was injured after being checked into the boards against Pittsburgh on Dec. 28.
To make room for Kane, the Thrashers re-assigned Tim Stapleton to AHL Chicago. Stapleton and Spencer Machacek were re-called Sunday as the Thrashers were without forwards Kane, Jim Slater (concussion), Fredrik Modin (mid-body) and Ben Eager (suspension).
Ramsay said the decision to keep Machacek, 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, was aided by Friday’s opponent.
“It was more about having a big body. I thought Stapleton played well the other night [against Carolina]. ... The Flyers are a big team. I thought Machacek brings a big presence, another board guy. We can use him on the wing and use [Chris] Thorburn in the middle and let him bang around in the middle and give us another big body at center because we are pretty small at center.”
The Thrashers used rookies Patrice Cormier, Alexander Burmistrov and Machacek on a line again Friday. The three played together Sunday at Carolina.
Ramsay said he likes what the three bring as a unit, especially their communication.
“They played quite a bit the other night, and I thought they played well when they played,” Ramsay said. “Later in the game they didn’t play quite as much. I did have Machacek out in overtime. I gave them an opportunity. I want them to feel like they are part of the team.
"We play three games in four nights again. Everybody has to play. Everybody has to be ready to go. We need to grow our team. We need to see these boys play. I like the kids. They play well together.”
Ramsay hopes the rookie line combination will have a positive affect on Burmistrov. The center has struggled of late, with only two assists in the past 15 games. He had 13 points (five goals, eight assists) through the first 31 games.
“He needs a little spark,” Ramsay said. “He needs something good to happen. He seems to be enjoying himself with these two people. I think that’s a wonderful opportunity for him to pick up his game and get back to where he was.”
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com