Hart says he’s ready to play if Flyers are willing

Flyers goaltender Carter Hart practices on Tuesday at Voorhees, N.J. (Photo by Wayne Fish)

VOORHEES, N.J. – Happiness is having a two-game road winning streak and goaltender Carter Hart once again ready to play.

The Flyers haven’t had the services of their No. 1 netminder since he was forced to leave a Nov. 1 game against Buffalo 10 minutes into the action at the Wells Fargo Center.

Since then, rookie Samuel Ersson and veteran Cal Petersen have been sharing duties between the pipes.

Pending coach John Tortorella’s approval, Hart should be back in goal for Wednesday night’s game at the Carolina Hurricanes.

Hart almost got into action in the last of a three-game road trip when the Flyers visited Los Angeles on Saturday night. In fact, he was announced as the starter well before the game but Petersen was a late replacement and played well in a 4-2 win at Crypto.com Arena.

At Tuesday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center, Hart disclosed the most recent scratch was due to a case of food poisoning.

“Some bad fish,” he said in an interview at his locker. “It wasn’t fun.

Barring any further unforeseen circumstances, the Flyers top guy will be back in there against the ‘Canes.

The latest incident was frustrating to say the least.

“Yeah, I was feeling really good, ready to go,” he said. “Woke up in the middle of the night and then early Friday morning so sick. . .in the fetal position.”

Officially, Hart was sidelined by a “mid-body” injury prior to the food poisoning incident and that had to hinder his mobility. That sort of issue probably takes time to heal.

“I feel good,” Hart said. “I think today was a good day to get a really good practice. We practiced for an hour, to make the most of it, the game situations that we have. Obviously it’s hard to simulate a game but I’ve only been out for two weeks.

“I was practicing before I got sick. I’m feeling good coming back from injury. I feel like I’m ready to go and I feel like I haven’t missed a beat.”

The Flyers played a lot better in front of Ersson in a 6-3 victory at Anaheim on Friday night as well as the triumph at the Kings.

“I think they’ve done a good job of boxing guys out,” Hart said. “Letting them (Ersson, Petersen) see pucks, tying up sticks, not letting teams have second and third opportunities. Just tracking back into our D-zone. Not giving them time and space to make plays and to have good looks at the net.”

Hart, who has a 4-3-0 record with a 2.52 goals-against average and .913 save percentage, said he wasn’t frustrated by the recent injury.

“It is what it is, it’s part of the game, it happens,” Hart said. “I’ve done a good job of staying sharp on top of other things. I’ve been using this time to take care of my body. You don’t get too many times like that during the season. I wanted to play with my teammates but I made the most of the time that I was away.”

>Staal, Ristolainen getting closer

Two of the Flyers’ veteran defensemen, Marc Staal and Rasmus Ristolainen, have been out for long periods of time due to injury but both practiced on Tuesday and indicated they’re making good progress toward a return to action.

Staal was injured in a game against Edmonton on Oct. 19 and hasn’t played since. He crashed into the end boards along with the Oilers’ Warren Foegele and apparently suffered a rib injury.

Ristolainen has yet to play this season. He disclosed on Tuesday it was a “lower-body injury” and left it at that.

“It’s good to be back with the guys and get a practice in,” Staal said. “I skated by myself four or five times this week. I felt pretty good.”

Staal ruled himself out of the Carolina game.

“I’ll just take it as it comes after that,” he said. “Maybe by the weekend (Vegas on Saturday, Columbus on Sunday).”

What happened on the play which got him injured?

“Just slid awkwardly into the boards,” he said. “His knee went into my ribs. That was it, pretty painful.”

As Ristolainen, he suffered a setback a while ago and basically had to start his rehab all over again. He looked pretty mobile on Tuesday.

“Hopefully I am going to be playing soon,” Ristolainen said. “I’m on the right track now. I’m feeling good – it’s going to be sooner than later.”

The setback might have been avoided, according to Ristolainen.

“I tried to come back earlier, so it was frustrating,” he said. “I can’t really do anything about it. Just keep working. I’ve been skating for a week or so. For a couple weeks I didn’t skate.”

Tortorella has been getting by with some rather young defensemen. It will be good to have some experienced depth in the lineup.

“It’s good to see them on the ice,” he said. “We’ll see where they go as far as their health is concerned.”

>Short shots

Petersen and defenseman Victor Mete were returned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. . .Tortorella was non-committal on possible returns of forward Bobby Brink and defenseman Egor Zamula (both scratched for the L.A. game). “I thought Bobby had leveled out,” Tortorella said. “He struggled. It doesn’t hurt to watch. They were taken out because there were some struggles in their games.”. . .Tortorella moved center Ryan Poehling off the fourth line vs. the Kings and he had a strong game.

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About Wayne Fish 2437 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.