Sergei Bobrovsky-Carter Hart duel gives Flyers firsthand look at tough decision ahead

Sergei Bobrovsky-Carter Hart duel gives Flyers firsthand look at tough decision ahead

It took six days into the Chuck Fletcher era for the Flyers to reenter the rumor business. Two weeks ago, there were whispers they will take a run at Sergei Bobrovsky on July 1.

On Saturday afternoon, the Flyers witnessed firsthand why that might be a solid idea even if it does potentially block Carter Hart from taking over as their No. 1 goalie full-time.

Bobrovsky stood on his head in the Columbus crease, stopping 34 pucks and making highlight-reel saves look routine. The Flyers fell, 4-3, to their former goalie's Blue Jackets.

"I try not to think about what's happened in the past," Bobrovsky said. "I have a huge amount of respect for this organization, for this club, but it's hockey."

This wasn't totally a case of the Flyers outplaying an opponent and simply running into a two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goalie. There were defensive breakdowns, careless turnovers and Ivan Provorov's confidence with the puck remains a huge concern (see observations).

That said, this wasn't totally a case of the Flyers flat-out being dominated either. The Flyers had 67 shot attempts to Columbus' 30 and peppered Bobrovsky with 37 shots on net. The advanced metrics largely favor the Flyers. They ended an 0-for-13 power-play drought, though the man advantage finished 1 for 4 and didn't completely change that narrative.

"As I said to the players after the game," interim head coach Scott Gordon said, "with the exception of the plays on the goals, we played a game where we certainly had our fair share of chances, we limited the amount of opportunities. We should go to New York feeling confident about our game. I think we've had a level of consistency in the three games to know that we're starting to build some momentum as to how we want to play."

When it comes to discussing the Flyers' goalie situation, it's important to weigh the now vs. the future, something this organization has historically struck out on so much.

When it comes to talking Flyers goaltending, it's important to learn from the malpractice that took place with Bobrovsky, an undrafted free-agent signing that had all the tools already in his toolbox that led to him winning the Vezina in his first season in Columbus.

The Flyers have never known how to develop a goalie. History doesn't lie, so when it comes to how they should handle their current situation, it's hard to know exactly what to do.

Hart is here, for now, and he made his third straight start Saturday. His stat line was ugly — four goals on 19 shots — but it doesn't tell the whole story. Egregious turnovers and defensive breakdowns led to three of the four goals. The loss isn't on Hart.

Bobrovsky can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and all signs point to him testing the market. He has a legitimate case to cash out this summer as the highest-paid goalie in the NHL and if the Flyers are going to "take a run" at him, they're going to have to muster up the big bucks. The Flyers certainly know what he can do, and they saw it again Saturday. In fact, this season, Bobrovsky is 3-0-0 with 89 saves on 98 shots.

There is a way to make this work, a way where Hart receives a little more AHL seasoning and Bobrovsky handles the No. 1 job. It's important to remember that Hart is 20. The Flyers have to handle this goalie dilemma properly this time around. They didn't with Bobrovsky by signing Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year contract.

The Flyers need a goalie to get to Hart. It was Ron Hextall's biggest failure as GM. Hart is in The Show now and for all we know, he may change the narrative himself. He may prove that he's ready to handle all of the pressures that come with being the No. 1 goalie in the city known as the NHL goaltending graveyard.

But if he's not, and Bobrovsky's swimming in those waters come July 1, there isn't a better bridge to Hart than the one they should have never given up on prematurely.

Saturday was just a reminder of what could have been.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Nolan Patrick? Present! Travis Konecny's situation, shot to Carter Hart, more from Flyers training camp

Nolan Patrick? Present! Travis Konecny's situation, shot to Carter Hart, more from Flyers training camp

VOORHEES, N.J. — Let the games begin.

The Flyers on Sunday finished up their third consecutive practice of training camp leading into Monday night's preseason opener against the Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./NBCSP).

During the first two days of camp, head coach Alain Vigneault really pushed the tempo. The team studies the drills before hitting the ice, so when one drill finishes, the next begins at a bang-bang pace. On Day 3, Vigneault pulled back the reins because the Flyers begin a stretch of four exhibition games in six days.

Vigneault and the team's training staff study the data.

"I do the pace, I do the practice, but I also use the science," Vigneault said. "Our guys right now, as we're practicing, are monitored by our strength coach and I know the different loads that we're attaining. 

"The first two days, the loads were very high, more than a game's worth. Today, I tapered down a little bit, I shortened practice up a little bit. Because these guys are playing [Monday], I want them to have energy. I follow the science. 

"I was fortunate enough that I when I went to New York, we had sort of the same basis. I got here and they had the same formula for loads, lengths and intensity of practice. I'm able to use that and monitor that real well."

Let's get into five observations:

1. Patrick? Present!

Nolan Patrick missed the first three days of training camp with an upper-body injury. He's considered week to week but it's uncertain when he'll return to practice or if he'll be ready for the regular season.

Patrick, however, has been skating and getting in work before the Flyers take the ice, which the 20-year-old center did again Sunday morning.

It's never good to miss the beginning of camp or preseason, especially when there's a new head coach implementing systematic changes and competition is ripe for spots.

But Vigneault said Patrick has been very involved, essentially doing everything he can without actually practicing.

"It's unfortunate, but at the same time, he's in all the meetings, he's doing extra on the ice with our skill coach," Vigneault said. "Hopefully this upper-body injury will leave and he'll be back with us. But I think the fact that he's here and he's capable to see the video that we're showing and he knows all the drills that we're doing, he is behind, but he is not as far behind as someone that's not physically here at this time."

Another message to Travis Konecny?

2. Lineup stuff

Here's how the Flyers' forwards will look Monday night:

James van Riemsdyk-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek 
Isaac Ratcliffe-Morgan Frost-Joel Farabee 
Oskar Lindblom-German Rubtsov-Chris Stewart 
Kyle Criscuolo-Mikhail Vorobyev-Maksim Sushko

The Flyers' top line could be the second unit in the season opener. It has size mixed with skill and playmaking. Hayes (6-5/216) and van Riemsdyk (6-3/212) were with each throughout the first three days of camp, while Voracek (6-2/217) joined them Sunday.

"You've got three guys with great puck protection skills, three guys that have got some good speed," Vigneault said. "Some might say that JVR is not the quickest, I would say to you he skates a lot better than people think.

"Once they're in the offensive zone and they have the puck, it's going to be tough for the other team to get it back. I'm really anxious to see how those three are going to do together."

The Flyers' three top prospects are also back together. The trio was impressive during rookie camp and the prospects game.

Shayne Gostisbehere, Justin Braun, Philippe Myers and Samuel Morin are the notable defensemen suiting up Monday. Brian Elliott will start the game in net and be relieved by Alex Lyon.

3. Giroux-Couturier-Farabee

Vigneault doesn't expect to play Claude Giroux or Sean Couturier in Tuesday's second preseason game, either.

So what will happen with the Giroux-Couturier-Farabee dream line that has had everyone abuzz?

"There's a definite strong possibility after [Tuesday], we will see that young man with those two players," Vigneault said. "They had a real good first couple of days. We decided with management that this is the group we want to go with [Monday]. Then they'll watch the game and probably make other decisions for the next day."

It's good to hear those three will likely get a game together. They were that good during the first two days of camp and the Flyers need to get the best read they can on Farabee during the exhibition slate. Playing him with talent will help.

4. The Konecny situation

The Konecny hiatus will now linger into the preseason schedule. And even if Konecny and the Flyers agree to a contract sometime this week, it would be difficult to throw him into a preseason game with little to no practice. 

Which means the 22-year-old could very well miss more than half the preseason given the Flyers play four of their seven exhibition games this upcoming week.

Hard to believe.

With the unknown surrounding Patrick and Konecny, those are two first-round picks, two young forwards that can legitimately make or break the team's depth in 2019-20.

The Flyers, prone to slow starts in years past, are already facing some challenges.

5. That's nuts

Moments after a drill, Carter Hart went down on one knee and was shaken up.

The beloved 21-year-old goalie didn't miss any drills and was able to finish practice.


Everything fine?

"I got it right in the nuts," Hart said. "It didn't feel very good."


"I thought maybe they crawled up into my stomach after that," he said.

At least he's OK.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers, Warriors team up for beautiful salute, beautiful cause

Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers, Warriors team up for beautiful salute, beautiful cause

VOORHEES, N.J. — It started with a phone call from Rick Stabeno.

"The call was very simple: 'I'm a Flyers fan, I'm a veteran, I'm a hockey player, I would like to start a team in the Philadelphia area. Can you guys help me?'" former Flyer Brad Marsh said.

It has blossomed into the Flyers Warriors hockey team, dedicated to U.S. Military Veterans with disabilities and a passion to play the sport.

"Dream come true," captain Jim Young said after Flyers legend Bobby Clarke handed him his Warriors jersey Saturday at Skate Zone.

(Jordan Hall/NBC Sports Philadelphia)

(Jordan Hall/NBC Sports Philadelphia)

Just like the big club, the Warriors are at the practice facility competing in their own training camp, featuring 33 veterans and sponsored by Toyota. Marsh, also the director of Flyers alumni and community development, coaches the team.

Prior to the Flyers' preseason game Monday against the Islanders, the Flyers Warriors will play the Pittsburgh Warriors in an exhibition contest at the Wells Fargo Center, free for all fans to attend. Puck drop is set for 2:30 p.m. and Flyers PA announcer Lou Nolan will announce the game. The Warriors will then compete in the USA Hockey Warrior Classic in Las Vegas, Nevada, next month.

"Thank you for your service and thank you for embracing this opportunity," Marsh said to the Warriors team at Saturday's press conference. "It's been wonderful to work with you guys and the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team is very proud to be associated with you guys."

And Marsh added: 

"Rick, thank you for making that first phone call — awesome."

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers