As if matters couldn’t get worse for the Flyers on the heels of Tuesday night’s 9-2 loss to the Washington Capitals, they did Wednesday.
Stricken by injury yet again, the Flyers will play against the New York Rangers without six members of their lineup from Tuesday, including starting goalie Carter Hart (lower body). The Flyers already are without defenseman Ryan Ellis and center Sean Couturier. Interim coach Mike Yeo said that he didn’t have a specific timeline for Hart’s return, but he added that he is “concerned” about Hart’s ability to come back in the final stretch of the season.
In addition to Hart, defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen (upper body), Cam York (lower body), and forwards Cam Atkinson (lower body), Nate Thompson (upper body), and Patrick Brown (upper body) are out against the Rangers. According to Yeo, Brown likely is done for the season.
“We’re missing a lot of guys here tonight,” Yeo said. “This is going to be a tough game for sure, no question. And we’re going to have a few more tough games.”
On Tuesday night, Hart appeared to be favoring his right leg late in the first period and did not return after the first intermission with the Flyers down, 3-1. Backup Martin Jones played in goal for the final two periods.
Hart, 23, has looked to rebound this year after a disappointing 2020-21 season saw him post a .877 save percentage and a 3.67 goals against average. With a shaky defense in front of him, Hart registered a .905 save percentage and 3.16 goals against average in 45 games this year.
“I know he took that pretty personally, how the last year went,” winger James van Riemsdyk said. “So he wanted to have a strong summer and have a strong season. I would say both our goalies this year, I think they’ve done a fairly good job of giving us a chance every night.”
Sandström, Laczynski, and Zamula recalled
With the Flyers’ roster decimated by injury, general manager Chuck Fletcher recalled goalie Felix Sandström, center Tanner Laczynski, and defenseman Egor Zamula under emergency conditions from the Phantoms. All three will play against the Rangers, including Sandström, who will start in goal.
Sandström and Zamula have appeared in one game for the Flyers this season. The 24-year-old Laczynski, who spent the start of the season rehabbing from hip surgery, has not played an NHL game since April 15, 2021.
“He’s waited a long time for this,” Yeo said. “He’s obviously gone through a lot. He’s got a pretty good understanding. We’re not talking about a guy who’s just kind of coming into pro hockey. He’s got a good understanding of what his game is, what his role is in the NHL.”
In five games with the Flyers last season, Laczynski didn’t register a point and was plus-one. This season with the Phantoms, Laczynski has played a critical scoring role, notching six goals and eight assists for 14 points in 22 games since returning in mid-February.
Sandström, 25, made his NHL debut with the Flyers on Dec. 30, 2021, against the San Jose Sharks when Hart was in COVID-19 protocols and after Jones started the night before against the Seattle Kraken. Although the Flyers fell 3-2 in overtime to the Sharks, Sandström dazzled with 43 saves on 46 shots. He set a franchise record for most saves by a goaltender in his NHL debut.
“He played a tight game against an opponent that shot the pucks from everywhere,” Yeo said. “And he was able to manage all those situations, whether it was shots from traffic up top in the offensive zone, whether it was shots off the rush. He seemed to read things real well. So certainly excited to see what he can do again today.”
Zamula, 22, has played three career NHL games to date and will play on the second defensive pairing with Kevin Connauton. Laczynski will center the fourth line alongside wingers Oskar Lindblom and Zack MacEwen.
Rebound against the Rangers
Following their 9-2 loss to the Capitals, the Flyers are eager for the opportunity to reset on the second night of a back-to-back against the Rangers. While reflecting on Tuesday night’s game, Yeo said he was pleased with the Flyers’ start in the first period, but after the Capitals scored three goals, the Flyers couldn’t muster a response.
“We just crumbled from that part on,” Yeo said. “That’s one of the few times that we really haven’t responded very well. And through the course of the game, we could never get it back.”
However, the Rangers won’t let a Flyers reset come easily.
The Rangers (47-21-6) are coming off of a 4-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. Following a loss this season, the Rangers are 17-6-3. With several new faces in the Flyers’ lineup, the group will have to dig deep to pull off a win over the No. 2 team in the Metropolitan division.
“How you respond, it’s all about work ethic, passion,” Yeo said. “No question, we’ve got a younger lineup. No question, we’ve got some younger guys in there, and it’s a tough challenge for them. But they have to embrace that.”