(Photo: Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)
Two days ago, Carter Hart left the ice during a scrimmage. He was not available to speak to the media after. He was absent from practice again on Wednesday. And while several Flyers teammates and head coach Alain Vigneault said they weren’t concerned, there was cause for concern not knowing what Hart’s status was.
On Thursday, the Flyers had another scrimmage scheduled and again, Hart was not on the playing roster, the second straight day he missed practice after leaving early on Tuesday. However, there was positive news regarding Hart after practice when the goalie took the ice for a short workout and to face a few shots from teammates.
“The reason we didn’t put him in practice basically today is because it was a scrimmage and he hadn’t skated for the last two days. We felt that it was smart. In talking with [goalie coach] Kim [Dillabaugh] and [director of medical services] Jim [McCrossin], we felt it was smarter to put him out on his own,” Vigneault said. “Let him take a good number of shots and see how he feels. He came out and feels good. Everything should be good to go.”
With Hart making an appearance on the ice following Thursday’s scrimmage, there were no questions about any player at Flyers camp. Both Connor Bunnaman and Kirill Ustimenko, who missed Wednesday’s practice, were on the ice for the scrimmage. Sean Couturier was not available for the second straight day while he spends some time with his wife, who is due to give birth the couple’s first child.
The scrimmage featured some heavy special teams work with Team Orange being loaded with many of the players expected to be on the power play units. Team Black featured more penalty kill specialists. Team Orange came away with a 6-3 win. Kevin Hayes, who left the scrimmage briefly after an on-ice collision, scored twice for Team Orange and Travis Konecny had a goal as well. Team Black opened the scoring on a breakaway goal from Andy Andreoff. A couple of the goals were through heavy traffic in front of the net on power plays. The third period of the scrimmage also featured 4-on-4 play.
In addition, Brian Elliott was also on Team Black facing a lot of the chances that Team Orange and the power play units had in the scrimmage.
Meanwhile, the news of Oskar Lindblom’s contract extension was still resonating through the team on Thursday and nothing has changed about the possibilities for Lindblom.
“Oskar’s a great young man. He battled real hard. We expect him to play at some point here in the near future,” Vigneault said. “He’s been working out. He’s been skating. He wanted to go home and see his family, which is obviously normal and expected after beating the cancer. We do think in a short amount of time here, he’ll be back with our group and skating with the boys on the ice. Depending on how quick and how good he feels, at some point he might be able to help us in the near future.”
What a sight it would be if Lindblom were able to get into a game during these playoffs. For his teammates, just having him along for the ride would be special.
“First of all, it was awesome for Oskar to get that deal and well deserved for him,” Konecny said. “It’s nice to know we’re going to have him around again, have him around the team. We’re not looking too far forward at the possibilities and stuff. I know Oskar and he’s going to do whatever he can to be healthy as soon as possible.”
“The way his year was going, he was having a great year before everything happened. There’s no one more deserving of that contract,” Scott Laughton said. “I’ve got a bunch of texts at home from a bunch of buddies kind of just happy for him. I know everyone in this locker room is. Can’t think of a better guy to get that deal, to get back, be healthy and see him back on the ice.”
“It’s going to be a lot of fun. I can tell you that,” Robert Hagg said. “I can think back that it’s December, 6-7 months ago, we didn’t think it would be possible. Here we are, and we hope we can make it that far that he’s able to come back and give us an extra push in the end.”
With that, the final scrimmage of Flyers camp is over. Friday is an off day, and then there is just one more practice on Saturday before the final roster traveling to Toronto is revealed and the team prepares to head to the hub city on Sunday. Then comes the lone exhibition game the team will play on Tuesday against the Penguins.