New York Rangers

With inspiration from his father, Flyers' Anthony Stolarz keeps getting back up

With inspiration from his father, Flyers' Anthony Stolarz keeps getting back up

NEW YORK — When Anthony Stolarz thinks his situation can’t get any more adverse than it’s been over the past 18 months, he just reminds himself of his father’s job to help gain some perspective.

“My worst days are still not close to his best day,” Stolarz said. “When you put things [in perspective] like that, you just kind of enjoy every day, enjoy being around the guys and enjoy playing in buildings like this.”

John Stolarz's profession is that of a shipping clerk in a chemical plant back in Anthony’s hometown.

It doesn't get much more blue collar than dealing with hazardous waste shipments and waste disposal, so if Stolarz has to get his pads dirty for 60 minutes at the World’s Most Famous Arena, consider it a rather easy task.   

“Sometimes games like this are a little stressful, but it comes with the job,” Stolarz said of his 38-save masterpiece Tuesday in a 1-0 win over the Rangers (see observations).

There’s a certain level of amazement to how Stolarz even got here. Two surgeries to repair a torn meniscus in each knee along with three rehab assignments with the Reading Royals of the ECHL, and at one point, the odd man out when the Phantoms had three goalies.

He’s nearly seven years removed from his draft year, yet in terms of games played in the NHL, the 25-year-old Stolarz is not that much different than 20-year-old Carter Hart.

“The thing that’s most impressive is what he’s had to go through this year and last year,” Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said. “That’s not easy.” 

In all likelihood, Stolarz solidified his spot in Philadelphia. 

At least for the remainder of this season. 

Whereas Hart can be conveniently shuttled between the big club and the Phantoms, the same luxury no longer applies for Stolarz, who would have to clear waivers to play with Lehigh Valley.

Back in October, then-general manager Ron Hextall was able to successfully do it prior to the start of the season, but there’s very little chance of sneaking Stolarz past 30 other teams now, especially with injuries across the league. If Stolarz’s injury history scared teams off before, his resiliency alone is worth taking a shot at.

The question moving forward is where does Stolarz fit in the Flyers' grand scheme of goaltending? He’s a restricted free agent at the end of this season.

“I can’t even think about that with the way things have gone,” Gordon said. “We obviously have Brian Elliott coming back. Realistically, we could wind up playing with three goalies here with the uncertainty of where Brian’s going to be.” 

Ideally, a Hart-Stolarz tandem seems like the way to go, but there’s a lot of risk and inexperience that comes with that. Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Monday that he’ll be looking outside the organization for more goaltending as he plans ahead for the 2019-20 season and beyond.

“We’re certainly going to need one, if not two, veteran goalies at some capacity,” Fletcher said. “So that’ll all play out, but you can never have enough goalies. That’s not only the Flyers. You look around the league, so many goalies get banged up.”

But very few can get banged up and get back up as Stolarz has.

Perhaps, it’s just part of his chemical makeup.

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Flyers 1, Rangers 0: Thanks to Anthony Stolarz, NHL's hottest team picks up 5th straight win

Flyers 1, Rangers 0: Thanks to Anthony Stolarz, NHL's hottest team picks up 5th straight win

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Thanks to Anthony Stolarz, the Flyers have their longest winning streak against the rival Rangers in over 34 years.

Stolarz was magnificent in making 38 saves in a 1-0 victory Tuesday, as the Flyers won their sixth straight over the Rangers and third in a row at the Garden.

It’s the Flyers' longest winning streak over the Blueshirts since posting 11 straight victories from March 17, 1984, through Dec. 7, 1985.

The Flyers have also won five straight games overall for the longest active win streak in the NHL.

Here are my observations from Madison Square Garden:

• Defensively, the Flyers were in disarray for much of the first period and were busy chasing the Rangers' quick, elusive forwards from below the dots. Travis Sanheim had a slow start with some poor passing and a tripping penalty on Chris Kreider.

Speaking of Kreider, no Flyers defenseman could put a body on the Rangers' winger, who had all sorts of puck possession time and countless scoring chances. Outside of Ivan Provorov, I thought the Flyers' blue line really struggled in the first 40 minutes.

• Credit to this Flyers team over the course of its current five-game winning streak, it has committed to doing the little things no matter how painful. Collectively, the Flyers have blocked a lot of shots with sticks and shin pads and have been very disruptive in breaking up a lot of plays in the defensive zone.

• Kreider should have nightmares of Stolarz, who was phenomenal in his first start in over six weeks. He battled, taking away the lower part of the net while utilizing his size and range to cover New York’s cross-ice and backdoor plays.

In one sequence, Stolarz stuffed Kreider with his right pad and then denied Kreider’s one-timer attempt from the slot with his left pad. Arguably, his best save of the night.  

• After observing Stolarz through 40 minutes, Rangers analyst and former NHL goaltender Stephen Valiquette believed the area to beat Stolarz is under the glove and blocker. Valiquette’s observation was that Stolarz holds his hands up high, leaving a sizable gap underneath his hands where he’s susceptible to goals.   

• I thought the Flyers would take advantage of a shorthanded Rangers lineup. New York elected to play 11 forwards and seven defensemen, and once the Rangers lost forward Brett Howden, they were essentially down to three lines. In fact, coach David Quinn, who usually calls out lines by saying just the center’s name, was forced to call out the entire line.

• Oskar Lindblom may have provided the game’s only goal, but even outside of that, I thought he was the Flyers' best forward. He was strong on the forecheck and created what little offense the Flyers had in this game.

Lindblom had a pair of shifty, thread-the-needle passes that led to a 2-on-1 scoring chance and an open look for Sanheim. He also led all forwards with four shots on net. 

• Once again, more proof that teams just don’t like physical play any longer in this league. Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei lost control of the puck and had his head down when Christian Folin leveled him with a legal hit. Folin was instantly met with blue shirts who took exception to a clean hockey play. Good to see the referees make the right call by sending off Boo Nieves for roughing. 

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Flyers at Rangers: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Rangers: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

If the Flyers are going to start hurdling Metropolitan Division teams as they make a push for the playoffs, then the Rangers are the next obstacle in their way. 

The Flyers (20-23-6, 46 points) will look to extend their winning streak over the New York Rangers (21-20-7, 49 points) to six games — including three in a row at Madison Square Garden.

Short-term goals, let’s try and look at the teams right in front of us," interim head coach Scott Gordon said. "Teams that are two and three points ahead of us and let’s see if we can leapfrog them. Right now, we've just got to make sure we keep ourselves in the ballpark.

Let's take a look at Tuesday night's essentials.

• When: 7:30 p.m. ET
• Where: Madison Square Garden
• Broadcast: NBCSN
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app  

• Last night’s 3-1 win over Winnipeg was the first time in calendar year 2019 the Flyers did not allow a third-period goal dating back to a Dec. 31 game at Carolina. In their previous 10 games (4-5-1), the Flyers had allowed 14 third-period goals.  

It was also the first time the Flyers won a game in regulation without the “Core 4” (Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek) registering a single point. The last time the Flyers accomplished that was Dec. 3, 2016, in a 3-1 win over the Blackhawks.

Carter Hart became the fifth goalie in the past 20 years to win at least four consecutive starts prior to his 21st birthday. Former Flyer Steve Mason was the last in December 2008. Impressively, three of Mason’s wins during that streak were shutouts.

• Tonight’s game will mark Anthony Stolarz’s return to action after missing the previous six weeks with a lower-body injury that he suffered in Vancouver on Dec. 15.

Stolarz’s only start against the Rangers came at Madison Square Garden on April 2, 2017, a 4-3 New York win.

Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher was quoted as saying Stolarz “played unbelievable” in his second rehab start, a 2-1 overtime loss last Tuesday to Wilkes-Barre in which he faced 46 shots.

• Giroux has been on a remarkable tear against the Blueshirts with 12 points over his last five games. The Flyers' captain has had a three-point night in four of those five games.

• The Flyers will be without defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere who suffered a lower-body injury prior to Monday’s game against the Jets. Gordon is hopeful Gostisbehere can play Thursday in Boston, but definitely Saturday at home against Edmonton.

• The Flyers will face another backup netminder as the Rangers will start 22-year-old Alexander Georgiev in their first game back from the All-Star break.

Georgiev is 6-8-0 with a 3.43 goals-against average and an .895 save percentage. His only career appearance against the Flyers came on March 22 last season when he stopped 32 of 36 shots in a 4-3 Flyers' overtime victory. 

Projected lineup

Forwards
James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Mikhail Vorobyev-Phil Varone

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim
Robert Hagg-Radko Gudas
Andrew MacDonald-Christian Folin

Goalies
Anthony Stolarz
Carter Hart

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