Flyers vs. Blue Jackets: Anthony Stolarz vs. Sergei Bobrovsky; defenseman Samuel Morin skates with team
The Flyers (11-12-2) will host the Blue Jackets (15-10-2) in the first game of the Chuck Fletcher GM era.
Trading Sergei Bobrovsky to Columbus in 2012 turned out to be one of the worst deals in the Flyers’ history. Maybe the worst.
Bobrovsky, of course, blossomed into one of the league’s best goalies. But at least one of the draft picks the Flyers acquired in that ill-fated deal has reached the NHL and is getting a shot to be their go-to goalie: 6-foot-6, 210-pound Anthony Stolarz.
Stolarz was taken with the second-round 2012 draft pick (45th overall) that the Flyers received for Bobrovsky. They also took left winger Taylor Leier with a fourth-round 2012 pick they received from that deal.
Thursday night, Stolarz will face Bobrovsky when the Flyers (11-12-2) host the Blue Jackets (15-10-2) in the first game of the Chuck Fletcher GM era.
“It would be a special moment, obviously, to play against a goalie of his caliber,” said Stolarz, 24. “You’re excited to go out there and just worry about what you can control. You can’t worry about what the other guy is doing; you just have to worry about yourself.”
The usually dominating Bobrovsky is having his worst season since 2011-12, back when he was in his final year with the Flyers. He has a 3.04 goals-against average – it’s inflated because he twice allowed eight goals in a game – and a .901 save percentage.
Bobrovsky, 30, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner as the league’s best goalie, is a potential unrestricted free agent July 1 and might be pressing because he’s playing for a contract.
Stolarz, who is hoping to build off Saturday’s 4-2 win in Pittsburgh, has a 2.89 goals-against average and .912 save percentage in three games this season. He is making his third straight start. In 10 career NHL appearances, the Central Jersey native has a 2.32 GAA and .923 save percentage.
The Flyers dropped a 6-3 decision to Bobrovsky (35 saves) in Columbus on Oct. 18. In that game, Cal Pickard, who was since claimed by Arizona off waivers from the Flyers, allowed six goals on 28 shots.
Oddly, in his previous game before that October contest, Bobrovsky had allowed eight goals – and that’s the same scenario before this matchup. He surrendered eight goals in the Blue Jackets’ 9-6 loss Tuesday to Calgary. It was Columbus’ second straight defeat.
Bobrovsky’s career numbers against the Flyers are eye-opening: 11-3-1 record, 1.98 GAA, and .931 save percentage.
For the first time since he had ACL surgery May 31, mammoth Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin skated with the team Thursday, even if it was only drills in a morning skate.
“I think it was good for him, mentally, to be part of a short team skate. That’s a good start for him," coach Dave Hakstol said, mindful that Morin isn’t expected to be ready to play until February. “Still a long road obviously for him to go and the time frame hasn’t changed, but it’s a good step.”
“I feel great,” said Morin, who also had a groin/hip injury before he tore up his right knee. “I see the doctor [Thursday night] and I’ll know more, but for sure I’m going in the right direction.”
Morin, who stands 6-6 and weighs 227 pounds, said he has no limitations in his skating, but can’t engage in contact. A first-round draft selection in 2013, the 23-year-old said he “can’t wait” to be able to get into battles and throw around his weight.
Sean Couturier leads the Flyers in goals (10), and Claude Giroux has a team-high 30 points. … Left winger James van Riemsdyk has just one goal in seven games since returning from a knee injury, but he has shown some good signs recently and Haktsol feels he’s getting close to returning to form. ... The Flyers have won six of the last 21 meetings between the teams. … The Flyers haven’t allowed a power-play goal in the last four games, but they haven’t scored on the power play in five consecutive games.
Four Flyers prospects made Team USA’s preliminary World Junior roster: Joel Farabee, Jay O’Brien, Noah Cates, and Jack St. Ivany. . … Nic Aube-Kubel has five goals in his last seven games for the Phantoms. … After facing the Blue Jackets, the Flyers will have a five-game road trip that takes them to Buffalo, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver. They won’t return home until Dec. 18 against Detroit.