DENVER — Calvin Pickard will wear No. 33 Saturday night for the Flyers, a number he could have never dreamed about during his time with the Colorado Avalanche as the retired number of Hall of Famer Patrick Roy.
Pickard arrived in Denver late Thursday in preparation for the Flyers' game with the Avalanche as a backup to Brian Elliott. It’s been a crazy past five days for Pickard, who started training camp as an AHL goaltender in the Toronto Maple Leafs' organization.
“It’s a whirlwind for sure,” Pickard said. “Second time going through the waiver process, but I didn’t expect much. There’s so many guys out there and it’s tough to get picked up. I refreshed my Twitter feed on noon Monday to see my name and it’s a bit of a shock, but there’s a lot of excitement now.”
Pickard played in just one game last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, a 4-3 overtime loss to the same Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 27, 2017.
Head coach Dave Hakstol left the door open that Pickard could start in the Oct. 10 game at Ottawa.
“We’re comfortable using him. We have a back-to-back coming up next week, so that’s a possibility,” Hakstol said. “He brings a real competitive and upbeat spirit. In terms of goaltending, he’s built a good career.”
The Flyers also didn’t lose anything in the process as Anthony Stolarz cleared waivers Saturday and has been loaned to the Phantoms in Lehigh Valley, where another goaltending quandary is in the works.
“We’ll have to see how that works,” general manager Ron Hextall said. “Obviously Alex Lyon is getting close to playing too, so we’re going to have three guys down there as well. We still think a lot of Stolie, but we have a lot of goalies and we’ll need to make a move.”
Every trip to Denver comes with its own Rocky Mountain high.
For the Flyers, it’s adjusting to the altitude of playing 5,200 feet above sea level.
However, Hakstol’s team may be better equipped this time around. Prior to the season opener in Las Vegas, the Flyers practiced at Dobson Ice Arena in Vail, the small ski town 95 miles west of Denver, where the altitude is even higher and the oxygen in the atmosphere even thinner.
“That particular day was tough,” Hakstol said. “We were at 8,500 feet and we had the day off before. It was a tough day as the breaths get pretty heavy on days like that. How much that will have an affect on tonight, I don’t really know.”
It was the Flyers' first time on the ice since the preseason finale in Boston.
“I think it helped that we were here before,” Jakub Voracek said. “The practice in Vail was really tough. Oh man! When you play here, the first few minutes is tough, but you get use to it.”
Folin makes Flyers debut
Hakstol was looking to play all seven defensemen in some capacity during the current two-game road trip, so tonight Christian Folin makes his Flyers debut in place of Radko Gudas.
Folin will play the right side on the Flyers' third defense pairing alongside Travis Sanheim.
“Christian was the odd man out in game No. 1,” Hakstol said. “But he’s had a really good training camp. He’s going into the lineup and he has certainly earned that.”
The move to play Folin and sit Gudas is not a decision based strictly on the Vegas game, but part of Hakstol’s overall plan coming into the regular season.
“I planned to use all seven defensemen on this trip. How we're going to do that from Game 1 to Game 2 was a short-term decision,” Hakstol said.