Flyers

Justin Bailey called up by Flyers, expected to enter lineup soon

Justin Bailey called up by Flyers, expected to enter lineup soon

Chuck Fletcher continues to size up the Flyers' prospect pool with an emphasis on size.

A day after adding defenseman Philippe Myers (see story), the club promoted 6-foot-4 winger Justin Bailey from the Phantoms on Sunday.

"He’s played very well and I think Justin is certainly deserving of an opportunity and that’s something we will have to look at here pretty quickly,” Fletcher said Saturday.

Bailey has transitioned his way to the Flyers' organization rather quickly, scoring five goals and adding two assists in 10 games with Lehigh Valley.

Bailey was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres in a trade for Taylor Leier on Jan. 17.

The 2013 second-round pick of the Sabres never quite developed into an NHL regular, playing just 52 games over parts of three seasons.

Bailey admitted his lack of physicality for a player of his size at times has been a reason for his inconsistency.

However, expect interim head coach Scott Gordon to employ the 23-year-old right winger in a fourth-line role to bring a heavy, punishing presence to the Flyers' lineup.

While it’s uncertain when Gordon will utilize Bailey, the forward's presence would be beneficial against a team like the Penguins, who the Flyers play Monday.

The two teams will meet twice over the next two weeks as the Flyers make a playoff push, currently trailing their divisional rival by six points for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Flyers won the only matchup with the Penguins, a 4-2 victory at PPG Paints Arena on Dec. 1, a game that saw Wayne Simmonds drop the gloves with Pens defenseman Jamie Oleksiak 1:54 into the first period (see story).

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Flyers' Carter Hart matches an NHL accolade not seen in 32 years

Flyers' Carter Hart matches an NHL accolade not seen in 32 years

CHICAGO — Carter Hart continues to turn back the clock.

Just last month, the Flyers' rookie netminder matched Jocelyn Thibault’s rookie record with eight straight victories before the age of 21, a record established back in 1995.

Thursday against the Blackhawks, Hart may have done himself one better. 

Hart’s 40-save performance in a 3-1 win at the United Center was another gem in his rookie season and marked the first time in 32 years that a rookie goaltender had three winning performances of making 40 saves or more while allowing one goal or less (see observations). Boston’s Bill Ranford was the last goalie to do that prior to Hart Thursday night.

Here's how Hart did it:

• March 21 at Chicago, W 3-1, 40 saves
• March 17 at Pittsburgh, W 2-1, 41 saves
• Feb. 4 vs. Vancouver, W 2-1, 41 saves

Hart is also 7-0 during games in which he’s been forced to make 37 or more saves, and certainly the volume of shots Hart has been subjected to is an element general manager Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers will want to address in the offseason.

However, the Chicago Blackhawks didn’t want to give Hart too much credit for the victory.

“I think he made some pretty good stops,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “I think we had a lot of opportunities in the second and third, but yeah, I give him credit — he played pretty well.” 

Since losing three straight games, and getting pulled in the first period in two of the losses, Hart has regained his composure and appears to be locked in with a .966 save percentage over his last three starts. Moreover, it shows the maturity and intelligence of a young player in a position that can be quite demanding. 

“I’m just trying to worry about things one day at a time and worry about the present moment,” Hart said. “The past is in the past and you don’t want to dwell on it. I think for me, I just have to live in the present moment whether I’m at the rink or at home. Just focus on what I’m doing and not get ahead of myself, or dwelling on the past.”

Right now, Hart is merely rewriting the past. 

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Flyers 3, Blackhawks 1: Carter Hart with another 40-save effort, James van Riemsdyk with another goal

Flyers 3, Blackhawks 1: Carter Hart with another 40-save effort, James van Riemsdyk with another goal

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — The Flyers continue to hold on to dear life in their playoff pursuit, beating the Blackhawks, 3-1, Thursday night.

Goaltender Carter Hart turned aside 40 shots as the Flyers completed a season sweep of the Blackhawks for the first time since the 2015-16 season. 

Here are my observations from the United Center:

• It was interesting to see interim head coach Scott Gordon start with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier together on the same line when it had been Nolan Patrick on that top line. I’m wondering if it was a strategic move with the Blackhawks loading up their top line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Near the end of the second period, Gordon had split Giroux and Couturier up again. 

• The Flyers had two centers (Patrick, Scott Laughton) along with Travis Konecny on the ice for Erik Gustafsson’s 1-0 goal. The breakdown came as Laughton and Konecny were caught on the same side of the ice with Patrick battling Toews down low. By the time defenseman Travis Sanheim recognized the poor coverage, he was too late and Gustafsson blew a wrister past Hart.

• Hart has regained his mojo. Chalk up three straight starts for Hart, who has been consistently solid in making the saves he’s expected to make, and coming up with some timely saves that only a goaltender with his athleticism can make. It was the first time in 52 games that an opponent had held the Blackhawks to under two goals dating back to Nov. 16. 

• A solid all-around shift for the Flyers' fourth line that started with Justin Bailey breaking free on a breakaway, although his shot didn’t have much on it and was an easy save for Corey Crawford. Bailey picked up the assist on Corban Knight’s snap shot from the slot.

That fourth line is one area I would like to see more production from next season, especially when you look at the production teams like the Lightning and Islanders get out of their bottom lines.

• Ryan Hartman was a popular interview subject of the Chicago media as the Chicagoland native returned to the place where his career started.

Hartman had a rough third period as he was checked hard and was sent to the ice. On his next shift, he blocked a Brent Seabrook shot from about 10 feet away. He also committed a holding penalty, giving the 'Hawks a third-period power play.

While he doesn’t bring consistent effort to every shift, I thought Hartman had some bite to his game playing in front of family and friends.

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