Michal Neuvirth

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Talbot to help Flyers make NHL history as eighth goalie used this season

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Exactly two weeks after the Philadelphia Flyers acquired Cam Talbot from the Edmonton Oilers, the 31-year-old netminder will finally debut for his new team.

Talbot was the odd-man out after the deal, sitting in the pressbox for his first three games as a Flyer. Since Carter Hart’s injury, he’s been backing up Brian Elliott. Friday night he’ll finally get a start and help make NHL history in the process.

When the puck drops against the New Jersey Devils with Talbot in net, the Flyers will become the first NHL team to use eight  goalies in one season. They had been stuck on seven since Mike McKenna‘s start in early January and tied with the 1989-90 Quebec Nordiques, 2002-03 St. Louis Blues and the 2007-08 Los Angeles Kings.

Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon was one the seven who got a turn in goal for that Nordiques team.

Here’s a look at the games played for each of the eight goalies the Flyers have used this season:

Carter Hart – 22
Brian Elliott – 19
Anthony Stolarz – 12
Calvin Pickard – 11
Michal Neuvirth – 7
Alex Lyon – 2
Mike McKenna – 1
Cam Talbot – 0

The opportunity for Talbot arose because Friday’s game is the second game of a back-to-back following Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Philadelphia is still clinging to slim playoff hopes with a six-point gap between them and the Carolina Hurricanes, who hold the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Talbot hasn’t played since Feb. 9, but is certainly eager to get back between the pipes again. Hart is expected to return soon, so who knows when Talbot will get another look after Friday. In the meantime, enjoying making history!

“I don’t know if it’s something you really want to be a part of as a goalie or not,” Talbot said on Thursday via the Inquirer. “But here we are.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Trade: Flyers add Talbot, Oilers open up space for Sekera

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Cam Talbot is lucky No. 8.

The Philadelphia Flyers added Talbot to the fold late Friday night, acquiring the 31-year-old goaltender from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Anthony Stolarz.

Should Talbot get into one of the Flyers’ final 25 games — which he likely will — they will be the first team in NHL history to use eight goalies in a season. That just shows how weird this season has been on Broad Street. After some early season struggles, which saw general manager Ron Hextall and head coach Dave Hakstol fired within a 21-day span, they’ve ripped off a run that has seen them take 23 points from their last 14 games, putting them eight points out of an Eastern Conference wild card place and the third seed in the Metropolitan Division.

Emerging from the goalie carousel has been Carter Hart, the franchise’s goaltender of the future up until Dec. 17. He’s assumed the title of “goalie of the now” since after helping the Flyers win eight starts in a row and being a vital part of their recent run.

Talbot, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, comes to Philadelphia with an established relationship with Hart. The two have worked out together in the summer. “He’s a good mentor, a great guy, a good goalie,” Hart said on Thursday, adding that he called Talbot the night before his NHL debut for some advice.

This stablizes the goalie situation for the moment as Brian Elliott works his way back from injury down in the AHL on a conditioning stint and Michal Neuvirth is currently on injured reserve. In net had been Hart and Stolarz, the 25-year-old who was their second-round pick in 2012. Mike McKenna‘s been in the mix as well, but he’s only played twice since Dec. 28.

GM Chuck Fletcher will now get a good couple of months to see up close if Talbot, who’s posted a .909 even strength save percentage in 31 appearances with the Oilers, should be considered for an extension beyond this season and possibly act as a veteran backup/1B to Hart going forward.

This move for the Oilers helped them shed salary in order to have room to activate defenseman Andrej Sekera, who had surgery in August to repair a torn Achilles tendon. Stolarz can be a restricted free agent this summer, while they already have Mikko Koskinen locked up after extending the netminder for three years in January.

MORE: PHT NHL Trade Tracker

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Flyers tie NHL record as McKenna becomes 7th starting goalie

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The Philadelphia Flyers tied an NHL record by starting their seventh different goalie in the same season, and the netminder and coach involved make it an even better story.

(Granted, McKenna would have preferred avoiding a 5-3 loss while allowing four goals on 24 shots, but oh well.)

Journeyman goalie Mike McKenna has been tabbed for the start. The 35-year-old is suiting up for his third NHL team so far in 2018-19; he didn’t play a game for the Vancouver Canucks, while he appeared in 10 for the Ottawa Senators and is about to play for Philly. McKenna also played six games in the AHL this season. McKenna’s played for seven NHL teams overall, according to NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti.

[This post is worth it just for the gallery of Flyers goalies alone.]

As Sam Carchidi reports for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the goalie is well-traveled (just look at his hockeydb page), and McKenna has a good sense of humor about it.

“There’s probably a lot of punch lines associated with what I’ve done,” McKenna said. “You have to be able to laugh at yourself. I take my profession really serious, but there is some inherent dark comedy in this, too.”

From dark comedy to irony (or at least Alanis Morissette irony?), consider the coach involved. NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman notes that interim Flyers coach Scott Gordon was the sixth of seven goalies used by the 1989-90 Quebec Nordiques, the team the Flyers will share this record with.

That’s an almost spooky coincidence, right? Here’s a shot of Gordon as a Nordiques goalie, via Getty:

via Getty

Of course, the Flyers would probably argue that this is less funny and more sad/employment-threatening. It shouldn’t be lost on you that the Flyers have already tied this league record with almost half of the season remaining, as this is just their 43rd of 82 games.

Here’s a breakdown of how the other six goalies have fared over the first 42 games of the Flyers’ season:

Brian Elliott: 6-7-0, 2.59 GAA, .911 save percentage (14 games, 13 starts)
Calvin Pickard: 4-2-2, 4.01 GAA, .863% (11 GP, 8 GS)
Anthony Stolarz: 2-3-2, 3.90 GAA, .880% (9 GP, 7 GS)
Michal Neuvirth: 1-4-1, 4.27 GAA, .859% (7 GP, 6 GS)
Carter Hart: 2-4-1, 2.68 GAA, .909% (7 GP, 7 GS), giving some hope.
Alex Lyon: 0-1-0, 5.08 GAA, .806% (2 GP, 1 GS)

Well, at least the bar is low for this being a quality start.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Please welcome Mike McKenna to the Flyers’ goalie carousel

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Six goalies have played for the Philadelphia Flyers this season and there may very well soon be a seventh.

The Flyers plucked Mike McKenna off waivers on Friday, two days after the netminder was traded from the Ottawa Senators to the Vancouver Canucks. Just another day in the crease for that organization.

“Mike provides our organization added depth as we continue to battle injuries at the goaltending position,” said Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher. “He is a veteran goaltender with a tremendous amount of professional experience.”

Here’s an overview of the Flyers’ current goaltending situation:

Brian Elliott remains out with a lower-body injury but is “progressing pretty well,” according to Fletcher. He could be practicing again within the next two weeks.

Michal Neuvirth is dealing with a lower-body injury, according to interim head coach Scott Gordon. He’s set to miss Saturday’s game against the Calgary Flames and is considered day-to-day. He suffered the injury during Thursday night’s loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Anthony Stolarz may get back on the ice this weekend as he’s on the mend with a lower-body injury.

Carter Hart, who is healthy, has made five starts since being called up and posted a .900 even strength save percentage.

• Alex Lyon stays in the AHL and has helped the Phantoms win three of his last four starts.

• McKenna is a 35-year-old journeyman who’s played only 34 NHL games in his career while suiting up for nearly two dozen teams in The Show and the American Hockey League since 2006-07.

• Former GM Ron Hextall is still under contract with the team.

(Calvin Pickard was claimed on waivers by the Arizona Coyotes on Nov. 29.)

The Flyers became the 14th team in NHL history to start six goalies in a season when Hart made his debut. Could McKenna help them make more history as lucky No. 7?

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Flyers visit Lightning on NBCSN

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Thursday night’s matchup between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers with coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Since firing head coach Dave Hakstol, the Flyers are 3-1-0 under interim coach Scott Gordon. All four games were decided by one goal. Gordon’s Flyers debut behind the bench coincided with the NHL debut of goalie prospect Carter Hart, who has played in three of those four games.

The Flyers enter Thursday right points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for third in the Metropolitan Division. They were exactly eight points back of third place in the division last season after the Christmas Break. They went 27-13-6 the rest of the way and finished third in the division to make the playoffs.

Tampa is the hottest team in the league at 10-0-1 during the month of December. The last team to go a full calendar month without a regulation loss was the Blue Jackets in December of 2016 (14-0-0) en route to recording the 2nd-longest winning streak in NHL history (16 games). Their 58 points through 37 games are their most in franchise history, two points more than they had through 37 games last season when they also set a franchise record.

Captain Steven Stamkos has been red hot with 10 goals in his last seven games. He lit the lamp twice on Saturday to mark his 10th career 20-goal campaign. That ties Martin St. Louis for the 2nd-most in team history and trails only Vincent Lecavalier (12).

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Philadelphia Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning
Where: Amalie Arena
When: Thursday, Dec. 27, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Flyers-Lightning stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

FLYERS
James van RiemsdykClaude GirouxTravis Konecny
Wayne SimmondsSean CouturierJakub Voracek
Scott LaughtonNolan PatrickMichael Raffl
Oskar LindblomPhil VaroneDale Weise

Ivan ProvorovTravis Sanheim
Shayne GostisbehereRobert Hagg
Andrew MacDonaldRadko Gudas

Starting goalie: Michal Neuvirth

LIGHTNING
Ondrej Palat – Steven Stamkos – Yanni Gourde
Tyler JohnsonBrayden PointNikita Kucherov
Alex KillornAnthony Cirelli J.T. Miller
Adam ErneCedric PaquetteRyan Callahan

Victor HedmanDan Girardi
Ryan McDonaghAnton Stralman
Braydon CoburnMikhail Sergachev

Starting goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Rick Peckham (play-by-play) and Brian Boucher (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will call Flyers-Lightning from Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.

A new episode of the critically-acclaimed Road To The NHL Winter Classic™ docuseries, which takes viewers inside the dressing rooms and homes of the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks as they prepare to meet in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1., will debut on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, leading into coverage of Flyers-Lightning on NBCSN. An encore presentation will air at 11 p.m. ET on NBCSN, immediately following coverage of Flyers-Lightning.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.