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Injury for Flyers’ Neuvirth gives Stolarz an NHL look

Injury for Flyers’ Neuvirth gives Stolarz an NHL look

Last season, Philadelphia Flyers prospect goaltender Anthony Stolarz spent some time at the end of the year up with the NHL club, to stand in for injuries.

At the time, he got a chance to speak to InGoal about being up with the big club, even without ice time during actual games.

“Even just [being up] to experience the games, practice with the NHL players, watch and learn, it’s an incredible experience.”

Would he have loved to play?

“Sure,” he admitted. “But for now I’m just here if they need me, and I’ll be ready when that time comes.”

That could be now.

Fast forward around eight months, and Stolarz is back up with the Flyers to fill in for an injury – this time for a hurt Michal Neuvirth, who left the team’s game earlier this week and is now on long-term injured reserve.

That could be in four weeks. It could also be in six weeks, or even longer; Neuvirth has a knee injury, and he won’t be undergoing surgery to fix it.

Where does that leave Stolarz?

He’s standing behind a hopefully ascending Steve Mason, who stumbled to start off the year – but recorded an impressive .950 save percentage in his last appearance with the club, which saw him put up 19 saves on 20 shots over 40 minutes. The two London Knights alumni goaltenders will tandem until Neuvirth is ready to return to action.

It’s an interesting situation for the Flyers.

Mason, who was revived upon arriving in Philadelphia from the Columbus Blue Jackets, has never really been given a fair shake by the Metropolitan Division team. Bad games are highlighted by fans, and the coaches have brought in a tandem in Michal Neuivirth – who is all but breathing down Mason’s neck to edge him out for the starting gig.

Then there’s Stolarz. Always a goalie, the New Jersey native received little in the way of formal training until he hit the OHL with the Knights. He grew up on roller hockey, in hand-me-down gear from his fellow netminding older brother; he didn’t even wear knee protection under his pads until he was exposed to higher-level hockey in the NAHL. He’s an unconventional prospect, far different from the robotic, early-started goalies found in places like Canada.

Both goaltenders have plenty of talent that could help the Flyers to a higher place in the standings, though. Mason has pulled his positional depth in with Philadelphia, and it shows on his good nights – giving him all the makings of a bona fide number one. Stolarz also has the size, and he’s got the instincts – not to mention the polishing his play has seen since getting more formal attention in the last handful of years.

Philadelphia may end up counting down the days until Neuvirth returns; they certainly aren’t the only club with significant injuries in net this fall, but they’re one that’s desperate to head back to the postseason.

While the Czech netminder is out, though, there’s a lot of fun in their depth chart for the interim.

About The Author

Cat Silverman

Catherine is the first American in a long line of Canadians, making her the black sheep before she even decided she wasn't going to be a Leafs fan. Writer for Today's Slapshot, InGoal Magazine, and Coyotes.NHL.com, coach in the Arizona Coyotes Department of Hockey Development. Goalies are not voodoo.