Center Nolan Patrick took part in the Flyers’ morning skate Wednesday, and it will be a game-time decision on whether he plays tonight against visiting Washington.
Based on how he looked in practice, it appears Patrick will play. He showed no ill effects from blocking a shot with his head in Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Islanders.
“I felt pretty good,” Patrick said after the practice in Voorhees. “Obviously, the morning skate is a lot different than a game would be.”
Patrick said it was the first time he had ever blocked a shot with his head.
“Just trying to get my blocked-shot totals up a little bit,” he said, wryly.
Patrick, who said he needed five or six stitches to close the wound, will likely center Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny if he plays.
Washington is tied with the Islanders atop the Metropolitan Division standings.
For the first time since he injured his ankle, goalie Carter Hart took part in a morning skate and said he was making great progress.
Hart said he didn’t feel any limitations. “I had no issues,” he said.
Interim coach Scott Gordon hinted Tuesday that Hart wouldn’t be ready to play until later next week. Asked if March 14 against visiting Washington might be his target date, Hart said, “Hopefully, sooner than that. I felt pretty good. Obviously, you take things one day at a time, but I want to be back here as soon as I can.”
Gordon said Hart needs to participate in a couple of full practices before he considers using the rookie goalie. Hart, 20, said the “plan” was for him to have full practices Thursday and Friday.
The Flyers, who are seven points out of a playoff spot with 16 games left, will play at the Islanders on Saturday and host Ottawa on Monday.
“I’ve just been itching to get back as soon as I can and be part of the guys again,” Hart said. “I miss hanging out with all of them. We have the right group of guys to make this happen.”
According to Gordon, Hart injured the ankle when it got caught on the post at the morning skate in Montreal on Feb. 21. He hid the injury from the Flyers at the time, played that night, and was shelled.
“I felt it there [the morning of Feb. 21], and then it kind of progressively got worse,” Hart said. “I really didn’t think anything of it and then started feeling it more the next day. We’re taking the right steps here and just making sure I’m doing my job to get back out there as soon as I can."
In that 5-1 loss to Montreal, Hart allowed three goals on nine shots and was pulled midway through the first period. He was asked if his injury affected his performance.
“I don’t know. When you’re playing the game, you don’t really think about your injury,” he said. “You have that game-adrenaline kind of mindset, and you don’t notice those kind of things once the game starts. I wouldn’t say there was any effect.”
Hart steered the Flyers back into the playoff race before he was injured. He has a 13-8-1 record, a 2.79 goals-against average, and a .917 save percentage.
With Hart sidelined, Brian Elliott has started four of the last five games and has excelled. He has a 2.28 GAA and .936 save percentage in his last six appearances, including two in relief of Hart.
Elliott (9-7-1, 2.50 GAA, .920 save percentage) will face Braden Holtby (24-16-4, 2.94, .909) on Wednesday.
If Holtby wins tonight, he will become the second-fastest goaltender in league history to reach the 250-victory mark, behind only Ken Dryden. Dryden did it in 381 games; Holtby is playing in his 406th game.
Holtby and other goalies of his era have an advantage because they have a chance to turn ties into wins with overtimes and shootouts.
The Caps have won four straight, and the Flyers are on a 4-0-1 run.
Flyers season-ticket holders were told there will be one fewer home game in the 2019-20 season, and it appears that regular-season contest will be played in Europe, according to a source.
It will be an NHL event, and the league will make the announcement March 21.
As part of the NHL’s Global Series, Edmonton and New Jersey opened their 2018-19 season in Gothenburg, Sweden, on Oct. 6, and Florida and Winnipeg played games in Helsinki, Finland, on Nov. 1 and 2.