‘Backbone' Hart unavailable for Flyers against Blues


Updated: 11:55 p.m. ET

The Flyers were without their most important player Tuesday night.

Carter Hart was unavailable because of an illness. Felix Sandstrom started in net as the Flyers beat the Blues, 5-1, at the Wells Fargo Center.

"He was sick this morning, we sent him home right away," John Tortorella said about Hart postgame. "Wanted him to nap and give him the afternoon to see if he felt better. But we kind of had an indication that he wasn’t going to be able to go this morning."

Samuel Ersson was summoned from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley to back up Sandstrom. To make room for Ersson on the roster, the Flyers loaned Egor Zamula to the Phantoms.

The absence of Hart undeniably makes the Flyers a different team. Tortorella called the 24-year-old goalie the "backbone" of the Flyers through the team's start so far. Hart has gone 6-0-2 with a 1.97 goals-against average and .946 save percentage.

"I just like that I think he's kept himself level," the Flyers' head coach said Tuesday during the team's optional morning skate. "He hasn't gotten too big, he doesn't carry himself being big. I want him big in net when he's playing; he doesn't need to be big anywhere else, he just needs to be a good teammate, a good person, which I think he is. I got to know him in conversations over the summer in talking to him a little bit.

"I don't have to worry about his preparation. Those guys, it almost makes me tired watching them prepare. It's all good there. Is there a little swoon where there's some struggles? How does he handle that? I've got to watch that.

"I think he's just been a humble guy, he's gone about his business — I like that."

After facing St. Louis, the Flyers head to Columbus, Ohio for a matchup Thursday with the Blue Jackets (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Zamula's loan is expected to be a temporary move. The Flyers want to keep the 22-year-old defenseman with the big club.

"I'm committed to it," Tortorella said. "I just want him practicing with us, I want him at this tempo, I'm going to keep putting him in and out. There's some struggles, there's some obvious mistakes you guys see, too.

"I want him here because I think he sees the ice. He's just a little bit nervous when he gets the puck and just tries to get rid of it. Then there's certain plays you look at where he holds onto it, he makes a play and we're out of our end zone. That's important for our club."

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