Flyers fans can breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Goalie Carter Hart, unable to play in Friday’s 5-3 preseason loss in Washington because of some minor bumps and bruises, returned to the ice and practiced Saturday in Voorhees.
The Flyers finished 2-3-1 in the preseason, and Hart was superb, compiling a 1.20 goals-against average and .953 save percentage in two appearances. He will start the Flyers’ opener Friday against Vancouver at the Wells Fargo Center.
“It felt good; it was nice to get back with all the boys today,” Hart said after the practice session. “Preseason’s wrapped up now and we have a week of practice for Friday and we’re looking forward to it. We all feel good. Got all the kinks out, and this next week we’ll work on our details of our game as a team, and focus on the areas we need to tidy up and make sure we’re ready for puck drop” in the opener.
Hart, 23, is trying to bounce back from a miserable season. He has a fan in new right winger Cam Atkinson, who was acquired from Columbus in the offseason.
“He goes about his business the right way,” said Atkinson, who led the Flyers in the preseason with three goals while playing in four games. “He’s got some swag that I like. Obviously, I’ve only played against him and have heard nothing but great things, and I’ve gotten to know him on a more personal level. He’s a great kid. He comes and is ready to work every single day. I’m excited to go to battle with him.”
Hayes on ice
Kevin Hayes, the second-line center who is coming back from abdominal surgery and expected to miss about 10 games, skated before practice as he joined a group of players who are rehabbing from injuries. The group also included Egor Zamula (groin), Zayde Wisdom (shoulder), and Cooper Zech (upper-body injury).
Before center Morgan Frost was demoted to the Phantoms on Wednesday, teammate Scott Laughton had a conversation with him about when he was sent to the minors early in his career. Frost, 22, who had shoulder surgery in January, had no points in three preseason games but was effective in other areas.
“Frosty’s a really, really good player and a really good guy around the room,” Laughton said. “I talked to him a little bit about my experiences with it and what I went through. I mean, he’s still so young, and he hasn’t played in a while, either. To get your timing back and to come in full steam in training camp is tough. I’m excited to see what happens with him in the next month, and I think he’s going to be really good down there and I’m sure we’ll see him soon.”
Special teams struggle
The Flyers’ special teams, filled with several new players, weren’t very special in the preseason.
They went 12-for-20 (60% success rate) on the penalty kill, and 4-for-24 (16.7%) on the power play. The Flyers allowed at least one power-play goal in all six games, but the players aren’t overly concerned.
“If anything, it’s good to be exposed a little bit in preseason games; just to work on little things we have to get better at,” Atkinson said. “There’s only one way to go and that’s up, and to continue to improve and work on the details. But we’ll be fine.”
“We’re trying some new stuff up ice and still trying to work through that,” said Laughton about the PK. “Just trying to get on the same page.”
With Hart healthy, goalie Felix Sandstrom was sent to the AHL’s Phantoms, leaving the Flyers with 23 healthy players in camp. ... Teams are required to submit rosters by 5 p.m. Monday, and if the Flyers start with just 20 players, they are expected to send Cam York, Nick Seeler, and Jackson Cates to Lehigh Valley. ... It appears hard-nosed Garrett Wilson has beaten Cates for the fourth-line, left-wing spot. ... In the preseason, Sean Couturier led the Flyers with four points. ... Coach Alain Vigneault said there were “positive signs” in the preseason and that the team was trending in the right direction. .... Defensemen Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen had maintenance days and didn’t practice Saturday. ... Sunday’s practice is at noon and is open the public; masks are required for fans.