Chris Stewart

Flyers' Carter Hart to miss time with right lower abdominal strain injury

Flyers' Carter Hart to miss time with right lower abdominal strain injury

It won't matter how well the Flyers are playing. This season, the team will be thankful for its NHL-mandated bye week from Jan. 22-30.

Especially after Carter Hart's right lower abdominal strain injury, which will keep the 21-year-old goalie out for two to three weeks.

As a result, the Flyers on Wednesday called up Alex Lyon under emergency conditions from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. The Flyers needed cap space and roster room for Lyon, so rookie Joel Farabee was loaned to the Phantoms, while the team also placed veteran Chris Stewart on waivers.

Hart, who has been instrumental in the Flyers' improvements, left practice early Tuesday with the injury. Because of the break, Hart may miss only four to seven games. Shayne Gostisbehere will also use the break to rest up from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

In his first full NHL season, Hart has gone 15-11-3 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .905 save percentage over 32 games, while he has been dominant at home, going 13-2-2 with a 1.69 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.

Brian Elliott was already slated to start Wednesday in St. Louis against the Blues (8 p.m. ET/NBCSN). Lyon could be called upon to start Thursday's game against the Canadiens at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Farabee is not expected to be with the Phantoms for long and is an important piece to the Flyers' youth movement ahead of the Feb. 24 trade deadline (see story). Stewart will play Wednesday night and if he clears waivers, he can report to Lehigh Valley, while a roster spot would be open for Farabee's return.

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Flyers send David Kase to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms ahead of rematch with Senators

Flyers send David Kase to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms ahead of rematch with Senators

The Flyers made a roster move Friday that appears to be much more about the team's next two games than it is about the actual player.

David Kase, a 22-year-old winger who played five games for the big club, was sent back to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

In his first taste of the NHL, Kase handled himself well, delivering a goal, five shots and some shorthanded minutes over a 10:44 ice time per game.

“I like his energy," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said after the Flyers' 6-1 win Thursday over the Sabres. "Boy, he skates well, he gets on the forecheck, there is good chemistry there with him and [Jakub Voracek], so I like what he brings.”

But next up is a rematch with the Senators on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP+). Remember the last meeting with Ottawa? The Mark Borowiecki hit on Travis Konecny (which left the Flyers' leading scorer concussed), the Voracek and Joel Farabee fights, the Scott Laughton-Brady Tkachuk incident. It was only two weeks ago and Flyers forward Chris Stewart watched as a healthy scratch.

“I was fired up to say the least. Me and Sammy Morin (out with a torn ACL), I think he hopped up a little too quick there coming off his knee surgery," Stewart said with a laugh on Dec. 9. "It’s good to see all the boys came together as a team, see different guys step up — that’s what it’s about.”

The 32-year-old Stewart is one of the Flyers' most physical players and has never shied away from dropping the gloves in his 11-year career. The Flyers likely want his presence on the ice Saturday, as opposed to playing Kase, a 5-foot-10, 168-pound player, in just his sixth NHL game. For similar reasons, the Flyers clearly want Andy Andreoff (6-1/203) in this game, given Laughton (groin) is out.

Following Saturday's game, the Flyers host the Rangers Monday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) before the NHL-mandated holiday break from Dec. 24-26. Farabee will return from his three-game suspension and instead of Kase sitting, he's playing games with the Phantoms.

Stewart and the Flyers won't look for a Royal Rumble Saturday. They'll focus on winning a hockey game but it can't hurt to be prepared for anything.

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Chris Stewart, Kevin Hayes building bonds with Nolan Patrick through support

Chris Stewart, Kevin Hayes building bonds with Nolan Patrick through support

Chris Stewart is 32 years old and worked his butt off to return to the NHL after a yearlong hiatus in which he played 23 games for the EIHL’s Nottingham Panthers. 

He does not take wearing an NHL jersey for granted.

“It’s the National Hockey League, it’s a blessing to be here, it’s a privilege to be here,” Stewart said last week. “That year away definitely changed my perspective on life.”

In his 11th NHL season, he often finds himself in the shadows, when few are watching. During those unglamorous moments, Stewart has grown close to a 21-year-old who was picked second overall in the 2017 draft by the Flyers.

While a fierce competitor like Stewart would love to be playing, the byproduct of not suiting up every game is his support for Nolan Patrick through trying times. Patrick has battled a daily fight with a migraine disorder. As Stewart stays ready and vies for a spot in the Flyers’ lineup, Patrick joins him in pursuit of playing again.

Patrick has yet to play in 2019-20. He was diagnosed with the migraine disorder in September and last week called the recovery process “sh---y” and “pretty wavy.”

Stewart has played in nine of the Flyers’ first 30 games, serving mostly as a healthy scratch. Instead of wearing a scowl across his face, he is persistently positive — especially for Patrick.

“I’m not in the lineup right now and he’s hurt, so it’s oddly that we’re spending a lot of time together — working out together, skating together every morning,” Stewart said. “For me personally, I’m just trying to be positive for him. Toughest job in the league is being hurt and not playing. You get caught up trying to look at the big picture every night as opposed to just looking at the small picture — what do I’ve got to do today, what do I’ve got to do next. Then that building up over time, hopefully you start feeling better.”

Recently, Patrick has been skating more, getting in work with the Flyers’ healthy scratches, skills coach Angelo Ricci and the assistants.

I’m just trying to be a positive reinforcement in his life. You can tell, he wears a lot on his shoulders and he wants to play. He has his good days and his bad. Our worst day is someone’s best day. You look at the bigger aspects of life, it’s not that big of a deal. He’s coming along nicely. I noticed since he’s been back, he’s upbeat, his energy, you can see his glow starting to come back in his face, so it’s good.

- Stewart

(Charles LeClaire, USA Today Images/Zack Hill, Philadelphia Flyers)

When Stewart was scoring a career-high 64 points with the Avalanche in 2009-10, Patrick was only 11 years old.

The 2006 first-round pick of Colorado has played 661 games and scored 322 points (160 goals, 162 assists) between seven NHL teams.

Patrick is grateful to have a guy like that in his corner.

“I’ve spent a lot of time with him,” Patrick said last week. “He’s helped me stay positive, he always brings a good energy, so it’s nice to have him around.

“He’s helped me a lot through it. I can’t really thank my teammates enough.”

Stewart didn’t grind his way back to the NHL to be complacent with watching. He’s hungry to have an impact in games. However, he understands the concept of team.

It’s bigger than him.

“We’re all playing for the same goal, everybody wants to play,” Stewart said. “If you’re not playing, there’s part of a leadership role, accountability and things that you’ve got to buy into and take pride into. I’d give anything to be playing out there with my teammates but if I can’t, I’m going to do what I can to bring the energy in the room and be that guy for the boys.

“Internal competition is only healthy for the team. Everybody is good enough but you can only dress 12 guys. Whoever is in that night is going to give a hell of an effort and if you’re not, cheer them on.”

That mindset is part of why the Flyers were intrigued by the veteran winger this offseason, bringing Stewart into camp on a pro tryout and signing him Oct. 15.

“Stewie has been around the NHL a long time, he knows what it takes to play and stay at this level,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said last week. “His reputation, and rightfully so, is a great team guy. … I’m happy that Nolan feels the same way. Stewie is a good influence in a dressing room.”

And a great influence for Patrick. 

We talk all the time, when we’re on the road, we keep in contact, like to check in on him every couple days about the stuff that he’s going through.

Let him know that I’m here, just be a shoulder to lean on, to talk to, an open door and that’s how we’ve been.

- Stewart

(Brace Hemmelgarn/USA Today Images)

Alongside Stewart, Kevin Hayes was also one of the fresh faces in the Flyers’ locker room entering the 2019-20 season.

After signing a seven-year, $50 million contract in June, Hayes has settled in with his new team and surroundings, also becoming one of the Flyers’ alternate captains.

He has built a bond with Patrick away from the ice as the two live together.

“He’s a great kid, a young guy,” Hayes said last week. “I bought a place here that’s pretty big to live by myself and invited him in. He’s been great. He’s a professional, he handles himself the right way. He’s been traveling a lot with seeing some doctors and stuff, but we pretty much see each other every day.

“We’re pretty tight. It’s not easy being a new guy here on the team and living with him makes it a lot easier. I feel super comfortable now with where I’m at, but earlier in the season, it was a little different. We spend a lot of time together, he’s a great kid. We’ve had different type of upbringings but we’ve definitely become pretty close this year.”

Patrick played 73 games his rookie year and 72 last season. He expects to play in 2019-20 but there’s no set date for his return as this type of recovery process can be difficult to predict, specifically timeframe-wise.

While Patrick and the Flyers attempt to find what works for the third-year center, Hayes sees the process in which his teammate goes through on a day-to-day basis.

I’ve been lucky enough to kind of not have a serious injury in this league and I hope I don’t ever have to go through something like that. I’m sure it’s never fun to be away from the guys. The best part about playing on a sports team is going to battle with your teammates — that’s how you build friendships around here. 

I’m sure he’s doing everything in his power to get back. I mean, I’m witnessing it firsthand. I think the biggest thing for him is getting correct with his head and then going from there.

- Hayes

Just like Stewart, Hayes wants to be there for Patrick — on and off the ice.

“We’ve all had to deal with stuff in our lives before,” Hayes said. “You can tell when someone is up or down. He handles it on his own way. I’m a pretty outgoing person, I can kind of figure out when he wants to talk and when he wants to just go hang out and chill in his room. I don’t really push anything too much on him, he’s a great kid and it’s been a blast living with him.”

(AP Images/Philadelphia Flyers/USA Today Images)

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