Flyers’ Carter Hart Returns from Illness, Ready to Face Columbus
Carter Hart, who missed Tuesday’s 5-1 whipping of St. Louis because of an illness, returned to practice Wednesday at the Flyers Training Center.
The Philadelphia Flyers’ goaltender is expected to be in the nets Thursday in Columbus (3-9), though coach John Tortorella wasn’t ready to proclaim him as the starter.
The fact the Flyers sent goalie Samuel Ersson down to the Phantoms, however, indicates Hart is ready to play.
“I feel a lot better than I did yesterday,” Hart said after practice Wednesday.
Hart, 24, said he was ready to go.
The Flyers (7-3-2) have points in five of their last six games and are one of the NHL’s most surprising teams. They have allowed 2.42 goals per game, fourth-best in the NHL.
Among NHL goalies with at least six starts, Hart (6-0-2) is the only one who is unbeaten in regulation. Hart is second in the NHL in save percentage (.946) and third in GAA (1.97).
In Hart’s absence, Felix Sandstrom stopped 27 of 28 shots Tuesday and notched his first NHL win.
“That was good to see,” Hart said, adding he watched the early parts of the game before going to bed. “He works his butt off. Well-deserving. He played a great game. I came in and talked to him this morning, and he was pretty pumped up. So good for him; it was good to see.”
The Flyers have had much better defensive structure in the last two games, a 2-1 win in Ottawa, and the home victory over the Blues. They weren’t perfect in those two victories, but they didn’t allow the inordinate amount of high-quality chances as in previous games.
“From what I saw last night (in) the first two periods that I watched, it was one of our best games of the year. And in Ottawa as well,” Hart said. “The last two games, we’ve really played a lot more solid as a team, and (with) more structure and played really hard. It’s something to build off of.”
Tortorella was pleased with the last two games, but added a disclaimer.
“We’ve cut down the chances a little bit, but it’s certainly not to where it needs to be,” Tortorella said. “We’ve relied on our goaltenders too much. The past couple games we’ve played more as a team. We’ve looked more organized defensively. But we have a ton of work to do there.”
Tortorella downplayed his return to Columbus, where he coached from 2015-16 to 2020-21. He said all his focus was on the Flyers and he didn’t want to talk about returning to Columbus.
The veteran coach said he has a “tremendous amount of friends” in Columbus, but “I’m going back to coach the Flyers and try to win.”
Ivan Provorov had a maintenance day and did not practice. … Center Artem Anisimov, rehabbing from an injury, has been skating before practices this week. … Egor Zamula was recalled from the Phantoms. … Former Flyer Chris “Bundy” Therien will be signing Road to Redemption Wednesday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Dagwood’s Pub in Northeast Philadelphia.