PHILADELPHIA – With just two preseason games left on the schedule, it’s safe to say the Flyers’ goaltending situation is still a work in progress.
The good news is No. 1 goaltender Brian Elliott made it through his first full game on Monday night and didn’t look any worse for wear, at least from a medical standpoint.
That was newsworthy because Elliott is coming off an offseason hip clean-out operation, this after core muscle surgery last February.
On the flip side, Elliott did not look particularly sharp in giving up four goals in a 4-3 loss to the Boston Bruins at the Wells Fargo Center.
Then again, some of the rust is completely understandable. He had played a grand total of 20 minutes prior to Monday night.
For the Flyers, it was all about Elliott getting through the game in one piece.
“This was a big, big step, making it through a whole game and not really laboring. It was good to get in there mentally, physically just that full length of the game,’’ Elliott said. “A little rough, but I felt good. There are always some things I would want to do differently (on the goals). But that’s what this time of year is for.’’
The Bruins put two pucks past Elliott before the midpoint of the first period.
Peter Cehlarik (4:15) and Brandon Carlo (9:31) did the honors. In the second period, Elliott was left on his own for a shorthanded breakaway goal by Chris Wagner at 12:37.
Boston made it 4-0 in the third before the Flyers connected for three goals in a span of 2:44.
Dale Weise (8:43), Claude Giroux (power play, 10:25) and Travis Konecny (11:27) scored for the Flyers.
With Michal Neuvirth sidelined by a groin injury and doubtful for the season opener on Oct. 4, the Flyers dressed Anthony Stolarz as backup goalie for Elliott. This could very well be the twosome which starts the season.
Elliott believes he will be ready for Vegas. He figures to play one more preseason game and he still has about a week of practices to get ready.
“You take the positives out of it (the Boston game),’’ he said. “We showed some good things throughout the game and we showed some rust. It’s good to work out those right now.’’
With only rookie Carter Hart waiting in the wings (Alex Lyon is out for a month), the Flyers are a little short on goalie depth right now.
“Carter has really conducted himself like a pro,’’ coach Dave Hakstol said. “He’s been pretty consistent throughout camp. There haven’t been any huge peaks or valleys. That’s a good place to start when you’re battling for an NHL job. He’s come in and been focused to try to make our hockey team.’’
Meanwhile, Elliott is taking a patient approach.
“It’s like increasing your reps in practice, if it’s sore the next day, you have to pull back a bit,’’ Elliott said. “It’s a balancing act. We’ve been increasing things and it’s been feeling pretty good.’’
Just getting through 60 minutes is encouraging.
“This (progression) has been the plan and we’re executing it pretty good right now,’’ Elliott said. “Everything is kind of on target.’’
Elliott was asked if he’s feeling any pressure to be ready for Oct. 4, given injuries to Neuvirth and Lyon.
“To a point,’’ he said. “I have to think about my long-term as well. But this game was part of the plan and things are clicking along.’’
Given the circumstances, Hakstol liked what he saw.
“He worked through the game,’’ Hakstol said. “He needs game action. He’s had some good practice time. What I saw tonight, there was real good in his game. There’s certain things you just have to see at game speed. I think that’s exactly where Brian is at.’’
Defenseman Andrew MacDonald (lower-body injury) was supposed to miss approximately six to eight regular-season games but recovered quicker than expected and played on Monday night. MacDonald said he felt OK after the game. “I felt I got better as the game went along,’’ he said. “Everything held up fine. It’s more about getting into game shape. Just getting the wrinkles out.”. . .The Flyers introduced their new mascot named “Gritty’’ on Monday night. He received a mixed reception from the crowd. The Flyers have not had a mascot since the ill-fated “Slapshot’’ way back in 1976. . .The Flyers, now 3-2-1 in the preseason, play the Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday, then complete the preseason on Saturday in Boston.
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