To nobody’s surprise, Flyers coach Scott Gordon announced on Friday that 20-year-old Carter Hart will make his third start on Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Wells Fargo Center.
As for Sunday’s matchup at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers, Gordon said he hasn’t decided who his goaltender will be then.
“We don’t have to make a decision as far as what Sunday is going to be,” said Gordon, who like Hart is now 2-0 with the Flyers since replacing Dave Hakstol. “Carter will start [Saturday], and we will get through the game and figure it out afterward.”
Captain Claude Giroux and center Sean Couturier weren’t on the ice on Friday. Gordon said both were given a maintenance day.
Couturier left Thursday’s 2-1 win over the visiting Nashville Predators for good after being smashed head-first into the boards during the third period. According to Gordon, he will play on Saturday.
After practice on Friday, Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov was contrite about being assessed a 10-minute misconduct penalty for pushing linesman Ryan Daisy against Nashville. This came after Provorov was assessed a two-minute penalty for high sticking.
It turns out that Provorov apologized not once, but twice to Daisy. He apologized after the game and then called Daisy on Friday morning to again express his remorse.
“A battle in front of the net, I got the original penalty for two minutes and I let the emotion take over me and did something I wish, I hadn’t done,” Provorov said on Friday. ”I apologized to Ryan after the game and I called him this morning just to say I am sorry and apologized and it was unacceptable, but we are all human, we all make mistakes and of course you always wish you never make mistakes but when you do, you have to learn from them and I am definitely going to learn from this one.”
“He felt awful," said Gordon. said. "First thing he said to me this when I saw him, was that he didn’t sleep last night,” Gordon said. “He had 12 minutes last year in penalties, that isn’t his personality…”
Actually, Provorov had 20 penalty minutes in 82 regular-season games last year, but the point is well taken.
On one other matter, Provorov shut down any speculation that he might be playing injured.
“Nothing is bothering me,” Provorov said. “I feel 100 percent.”
The Flyers penalty-killing unit has also been feeling good lately. On Thursday, the Flyers went 6 for 6 on the penalty kill. In the two games with Hart in the net, they have killed 8-of-9 penalties. They have also blocked 42 shots, including 24 against Nashville.
“It has been really good; our penalty kill has definitely been a difference-maker in both the games here,” Hart said.
Against Nashville, the Flyers received five blocked shots each from defensemen Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg.
“You can see as soon as a guy is blocking shots, the whole bench is kind of standing up and it gives you energy on the bench, it gives you energy for the team and it has been momentum,” Hagg said.
In fairness, the penalty-kill unit has been doing a better job recently, well beyond the last two games. The Flyers have an 86.8 percent success rate in the last 12 games, compared with 68.6 percent in the first 21.
Entering Friday, the Flyers were 28th in the NHL with a penalty-kill percentage of 74.8 percent.
What has pleased Gordon most in his first two games since moving up from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, has been the blocked shots.
“It is so uplifting because every player knows the pain of that shot and so that resonates through the bench,” Gordon said. “I think it is such a selfless act to be able to do that and it has had such a big impact.”