Flyers

Carter Hart making Flyers management's decision a no-brainer

Carter Hart making Flyers management's decision a no-brainer

It had been so long since the Flyers had last tasted victory that injured goaltender Michal Neuvirth had the honors of presenting the player of the game helmet to Carter Hart following his stellar 37-save performance Thursday that snapped the team's eight-game losing streak.

Prior to Thursday, it was Neuvirth who had backstopped the Flyers to their previous victory, a 3-2 win Dec. 23 over the Rangers.

But Hart took it to another level Thursday night as he faced a flurry of shots over the final 10 minutes in preserving a one-goal victory, a 2-1 decision over the Stars (see observations).

"When you have a goalie that's making big stops and has that coolness to him, for whatever reason, you can definitely feel that on the ice,” James van Riemsdyk said. "I would be curious to see what his heart rate gets to because he seems so cool under pressure."

To give you an indication of how much of a difference maker Hart has been in the brief time he’s been in Philadelphia, the Flyers have just two wins this season when they score two or fewer goals. Take a good guess as to who that winning goaltender is.

In fact, Stars captain Jamie Benn made a concerted effort to bombard Hart’s crease just to make sure the 20-year-old could handle the pressure.

“That’s where he was the whole night, just around the net,” Hart said. “I could sense he’s that type of player. He wasn’t really chirping me but saying a couple of things to me to get a reaction. He came up to me the first time and said ‘Good save’ and then next time ‘You’re getting lucky buddy!’ He’s a good player and someone I’ve seen on TV growing up. It’s pretty cool to hear that from him.”

Hart, in his eighth start, has grown up quicker than anyone could have expected as he improved his goals against average to 2.46 with a .920 save percentage.

Whether it’s Brian Elliott, Anthony Stolarz or Neuvirth, it really doesn’t matter who returns from injury. There’s no going back for this kid. The only reason Hart should ever see Lehigh Valley again is for a rehab start and knock on wood, here’s hoping it never comes down to that.

On the same day Hart stood tall and rescued the Flyers from another potential third-period collapse, Sergei Bobrovsky had a meltdown of his own. 

The Blue Jackets' superstar goaltender was not with his Columbus teammates for Thursday’s game against the Predators after an “incident” in which Bobrovsky “failed to meet expectations and values” of the organization, according to GM Jarmo Kekaleinen.

If Bobrovsky’s departure from Columbus seemed imminent before this latest episode, then it appears to be a foregone conclusion now. The question moving forward as it pertains to the Flyers is why would Bobrovsky be on their radar with Hart clearly ahead of schedule?

The very reason Bobrovsky didn’t win two Vezina Trophies in Philadelphia was the organization’s overreaction to signing what they believed was a franchise goaltender in Ilya Bryzgalov. What they got in return was a $51 million migraine headache.

For once, let’s stick to the plan.

As good as Bobrovsky has been throughout his career, the last thing the Flyers need moving forward into next season is to be handcuffed with another goaltender with a history of failing to meet an organization’s expectations and values.

Especially, when they have an exceptional talent who’s already exceeding them.

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Former Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald to attend Flames training camp on professional tryout

Former Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald to attend Flames training camp on professional tryout

After being bought out by the Flyers in mid-June, Andrew MacDonald is getting his next shot.

The soon-to-be 33-year-old defenseman will try to make the Flames' roster by attending Calgary's training camp on a professional tryout.

NHL teams often take fliers on veteran players as they shape their rosters because it simply can't hurt. The Flyers are doing so this training camp with winger Chris Stewart (see story).

While he wasn't a fan favorite in Philadelphia because of his contract, MacDonald was one of the most respected players in the Flyers' dressing room. You'd think the Flames are taking into account what they've heard from others around the league about MacDonald and his impact off the ice.

MacDonald has played 586 career games and 23 in the postseason. Calgary has won just one playoff series over the past 10 seasons. During 2018-19, the Flames went 50-25-7 with 107 points during the regular season — second best in the NHL to only the Lightning — but were bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

Calgary has a pretty strong defense, led by James Norris Memorial Trophy winner Mark Giordano, so making the roster won't be easy for MacDonald.

The Flyers bought out MacDonald for better cap flexibility and to open the door for some of their younger defensemen to take the next step. With the additions of Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun, the Flyers have solid, accomplished guys to augment the younger group of Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers, Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin.

"This guy is a consummate professional," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said of MacDonald in June. "We asked a lot of Andrew and by that I mean he was a player that played the left side, played the right side, he'd be a healthy scratch and then we'd put him back in the lineup. We asked him to play with young players and mentor them and bring stability to our back end.

"He's just a quality person and a guy that played a very effective two-way game for our team, but we are in a cap world and we made that tough decision today to try reallocate some of those dollars to maximize our chance to stay in the hunt on some players."

The Flyers will pay MacDonald $1,916,667 in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

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Little boy preciously confuses Flyers mascot Gritty for Cookie Monster

Little boy preciously confuses Flyers mascot Gritty for Cookie Monster

Gritty will take this as a compliment.

After all, who doesn't love Cookie Monster? The big, blue, furry creature eats cookies for all three meals of the day — that's living.

Gritty knows how to live, too. The Flyers' mascot was confused for the Sesame Street character by an adorable little boy admiring Cookie Mon--err, Gritty on the cover of Philadelphia Magazine.

The video was posted on Twitter Tuesday morning by @shegabstoomuch.

"Whoaaaaaa," the little boy says in awe.

"Wow, who is that?" he's asked.

"Cookie Monster!"

Tremendous.

Gritty will not endure a sophomore slump in 2019-20. He has been working on his figure this summer, staying in shape for the upcoming season.

Does he sneak in a cookie from time to time? Of course he does.

So our little guy wasn't far off.


(Eric Hartline/USA Today Images)

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