Injuries to Michal Neuvirth and Alex Lyon have thrust Carter Hart up the goalie depth chart, and there’s a chance he begins the season with the Flyers.
“I haven’t ruled out anybody that’s on the ice with our team right now,” general manager Ron Hextall said after practice Sunday in Voorhees. “They’re here for a reason.”
Regarded as the Flyers’ goalie of the future, the 20-year-old Hart has played well in the preseason, compiling a 1.20 goals-against average and .957 save percentage in 100 minutes, 24 seconds of action.
Brian Elliott is expected to start the season as the No. 1 goalie, but he had abdominal surgery in February and hip surgery in the offseason and is still trying to regain his form. Elliott has played just 20 minutes in the preseason.
Anthony Stolarz (3.00 GAA, .895 in three preseason games), coming off two knee operations that caused him to miss almost the entire 2017-18 season, is also rounding into form. Because he has AHL and NHL experience, he could break camp with the Flyers.
But don’t count out the unflappable Hart, who could get some action Monday in a preseason game against visiting Boston. Coach Dave Hakstol would not reveal his goalie situation after Sunday’s practice.
“Carter’s really conducted himself like a pro, and he is a pro,” Hakstol said. “That’s probably the first thing that stands out. He’s been pretty consistent throughout camp. There haven’t been many huge peaks or valleys in his play, and that’s a good place to start when you’re battling for an NHL job.”
Added Hakstol: “Carter has the ability and he’s shown thus far in this camp that he’s truly focused on coming in and doing everything he can to make our hockey team.”
Asked if he had made a case that he should stick with the Flyers, Hart said, “I can’t really think about that right now. I just have to focus on the daily process, and coming to the rink every day and just competing and going to work. For now, we still have some preseason games left and I’ve gotten in a few already and it would be nice to get a couple more.”
Hart said it’s been good to “play with some of the older guys and experience that NHL pace and speed of the game – and adjust to the difference from junior to pro.”
Defenseman Andrew MacDonald has been practicing with the team and said there’s a “decent chance” he will make his preseason debut Monday.
MacDonald was injured in the offseason and has not played in any of the Flyers’ four preseason games. He said it was a “pretty reasonable” goal to play in the opener Oct. 4 in Vegas.
Neuvirth will likely miss the opener, Hextall said. He added that Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds and Travis Sanheim – three players coming off injuries – are on target to play in one or two of the final four exhibition games.
In another matter, Hextall called hard-nosed winger Carsen Twarynski the most pleasant surprise in camp.
This will probably be the Flyers’ top power-play unit Monday: Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Mikhail Vorobyev, James van Riemsdyk and Shayne Gostisbehere.
Simmonds and van Riemsdyk alternated on the first and second PP units at Sunday’s practice. Simmonds, however, still is not ready to play after undergoing offseason abdominal surgery.