Hart Out 2-3 Weeks; Stewart Waived, Lyon Recalled Among Other News
Even after knocking off the Blues Wednesday night, it appears not all is well in Philadelphia. Particularly between the pipes. Carter Hart, the Flyers outstanding 21-year old starting goaltender, felt he tweaked something in Tuesday's practice and wound up leaving early. Prior to Wednesday's game, the Flyers announced he has a right abdominal strain and will be out 2-3 weeks.
Obviously, it's a tough blow for the Flyers, or any team, to lose their starting goaltender. Hart has been solid all season for the Flyers, and at home, he's one of the best goalies in the entire NHL. However, this could've been worse. The Flyers will have 10 days off after Tuesday's game against Pittsburgh, meaning Hart may only miss four games (and Elliott would've started Wednesday regardless of his health).
The Flyers had to call-up goalie Alex Lyon to take over while Hart is on the shelf. Lyon has a 2.56 GAA and .916 save percentage in 23 games for the Phantoms this year. He has played 13 NHL games over the last two seasons, going 8-4-3 with a .894 save percentage. At the beginning of the season, I wrote that I thought the Flyers could survive if injuries or poor play necessitated Lyon to play 5 or so games in the NHL. He probably won't play more than one this time around - he's the confirmed starter Thursday against the Habs - but we'll see how the 27-year old does.
In order to clear cap space for Lyon - something the Flyers are seriously lacking - the team made a couple of moves. Veteran forward Chris Stewart was placed on waivers. Stewart has been a good locker room presence all season long, but has struggled mightily whenever he's had to, you know, actually play hockey.
Stewart was placed on waivers Wednesday afternoon. Because a player placed on waivers cannot be sent down for 24 hours, and therefore their cap hit remains, the Flyers had to temporarily demote Joel Farabee, who is on his entry-level contract and therefore waiver exempt, to have enough cap space to promote Lyon. Farabee was therefore unavailable for Wednesday's game. However, Stewart cleared waivers and has been sent to the Phantoms, with Farabee returning to the Flyers for Thursday's contest.
On a more positive note, defenseman Justin Braun is ahead of schedule and should be ready to return Saturday, per Alain Vigneault. Right now, the Flyers need to break up their second defense pair of Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers, and Braun's return makes doing so much easier. Both Sanheim and Myers have tons of potential, but Myers in particular has struggled with questionable reads galore, two of which led directly to Blues goals on Wednesday.
With Braun and Gostisbehere out, the only alternatives are either break up the rock steady Provorov-Niskanen pair, or trust Robert Hagg or Mark Friedman in a role way over their heads. Neither are appealing options, and so the pair will likely have to survive one final game together on Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens.