DETROIT — Flyers goaltender Carter Hart, who has been sidelined by a lower-abdominal strain, continued to make progress Monday and skated with the team during their morning practice in Detroit.
“It’s going in the right direction and I’m feeling better every day. I’m putting the work in to come back as soon as I can,” Hart said after the skate. “At the same time, you don’t want to rush anything to make it go backwards."
Hart, 21, said he has felt “really good the last couple days, and today was the first time I was able to get back out there with the team. It just feels good to be out on the road with them again instead of hanging at home by yourself.”
Hart said he wants to get to the point where “it’s all instinctual and you don’t even worry about” the injury and “just go out and play.”
That day is close, he said, adding he “aggravated” his lower abdominal area a couple of games before he left the ice during a Jan. 14 practice because it started to bother him even more.
Coach Alain Vigneault said the next few days will dictate whether Hart is ready to play Thursday against visiting New Jersey.
During the All-Star break/bye week, Hart was able to return home and spend time with his family and friends.
“And I was able to enjoy the beautiful Edmonton weather,” he cracked, referring to the frigid temperatures.
Brian Elliott (2.94 GAA, .901 save percentage) will start Monday’s game against hapless Detroit, which has lost eight straight, has a league-worst 28 points — 15 fewer than the next team — and has a whopping minus-93 goal differential.
Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, meanwhile, will miss his 10th straight game, but, like Hart, he is making progress. Gostisbehere, coming off arthroscopic knee surgery, said he could play if needed Monday, but the Flyers are using precaution and holding him out of the lineup until Thursday.
“He’s had just one full team practice, and he wasn’t totally 100%,” Vigneault said. “I think the smart thing is for us to give him a couple more days and he’ll be ready."
Gostisbehere will skate Tuesday — the Flyers will not practice that day — and have a full practice Wednesday. “And he’ll be ready for Thursday’s game,” Vigneault said. “He was playing through it; it was painful. I think now he’ll be 100%. It’s just a matter of him getting his conditioning and his timing back.”
The Flyers are 18-4-4 at the Wells Fargo Center and have the league’s best winning percentage (.769) on home ice. They are just 10-13-3 on the road, but have shown positive signs lately, winning in St. Louis against the defending Stanley Cup champions and losing in overtime in Pittsburgh, 4-3, in a game in which they dominated the third period, outshooting the Penguins, 17-4.