Goalie Anthony Stolarz (remember him?) took a step Friday toward returning to the Flyers lineup.
Taking part in a full practice for the first time since he suffered an apparent knee injury on Dec. 15, Stolarz continued to make strides, and if he keeps progressing he could be back with the team when it returns from its break and hosts Winnipeg on Jan. 28.
If so, Mike McKenna’s days with the team might be numbered. McKenna is backing up 20-year-old Carter Hart (2.46 goals-against average, .920 save percentage), who will start Saturday’s matinee in New Jersey.
In addition to Stolarz (3.90 GAA, .880 save percentage), goalies Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth are working their way back from injuries.
The Flyers have equaled an NHL record by using seven goalies this season.
Because of injuries, Stolarz became the Flyers’ No. 1 goalie and started six of seven games before being removed from an eventual 5-1 loss in Vancouver on Dec. 15. He allowed two goals on four shots and was taken out because of an injury.
“Obviously, it was crappy timing with the injury,” Stolarz said after Friday’s practice in Voorhees. “But I’m feeling good, and we’re just waiting for me to get my cardio back and get in game shape again.”
Interim coach Scott Gordon said the 6-foot-6, 210-pound Stolarz might go on a rehab stint with the AHL’s Phantoms before returning to the Flyers.
“Realistically, I don’t know what the game plan is, whether he’s going to stay here or go to Lehigh and play some games,” Gordon said. “Obviously, he’s had some time off, and with us not having a lot of practice time, it’s tough to get into a rhythm. Hopefully, if things go as planned, after the break we might be able to see him back in the net.”
Right winger Wayne Simmonds, who is a walking trade rumor, said he blocks out the talk that he is going to be dealt.
“That’s something I don’t pay attention to,” he said. “I go out there and play hockey. I’m a hockey player.”