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When Flyers goalie Carter Hart was 15 years old, Martin Jones, who is now his backup, made his goaltending debut in 2013 with the Los Angeles Kings after signing with the team as an undrafted free agent in 2008.
Jones landed on Hart’s radar during his introduction to the league, and the two would go head-to-head six years later, when Jones’ San Jose Sharks face off against the Flyers on Dec. 28, 2019.
Hart remembers that Jones got the better of the Flyers on that day in a 6-1 Sharks victory. Now, Hart is grateful Jones has brought his 367 games of NHL experience to Philadelphia to round out the team’s goalie tandem.
“He’s been in the league a long time,” Hart said. “He’s been a really good goalie in the league for a while. He’s been to a Cup Finals, and he’s got a lot of experience.”
Together, Hart and Jones have kept the Flyers afloat through a scoring funk in which the team has averaged 1.86 goals in the last 14 games. This season, the tandem has combined for a .923 save percentage, which ranks fifth league-wide behind the Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Florida Panthers.
» READ MORE: Flyers drop fifth straight in 6-3 loss to Hurricanes
In the early stages of their partnership, the respect that Hart has for Jones has been reciprocated by the veteran goaltender.
“I never met him before my time here, but always loved watching him play,” Jones said. “He’s a pretty talented young man and he’s fun to watch, just how he moves in the net. I think we can learn a lot from each other. I already have.”
Through six starts, Flyers backup goalie Martin Jones has recorded a .927 save percentage and a 2.67 goals against average.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Both netminders admire different technical aspects about the other’s style of play. For Hart, Jones impresses by being “smooth, calm, efficient with his skating.” Jones also called Hart “smooth” with his movements and has picked up on lots of little “goalie jibber-jabber” details just by watching the way Hart plays.
“Just structurally, he’s really sound,” Jones said. “Tough to really find any flaws in his structure and how he moves and a lot of his technical stuff.”
From previous partnerships with the likes of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick to former Sharks goalie Aaron Dell, Jones has found that healthy competition and a willingness to learn from the other makes a strong goaltending tandem. In Jones and Hart, the Flyers have exactly that through their start to the season.
“I’m smart enough to know that the reason that I’ve been in this league long and coached the number of games that I have, I’ve had some Hall of Fame goaltenders,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “You need that. It rubs off on the rest of the group. And this year, so far, we’ve had some real solid goaltending.”
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Giving thanks for Friday games after Thanksgiving
This year’s Thanksgiving was a low-profile one for Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom.
This year’s Thanksgiving was a low-profile one for Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom.YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
For Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom, his experience with American Thanksgiving in his fifth season in the Flyers system is a little bit different from Thanksgivings past.
In his first full season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, in 2017-18, Lindblom had his introduction to Thanksgiving dinner with then-Phantoms captain Colin McDonald, when he invited the team to his home. In the years that followed, Lindblom would get together with other Swedish Flyers for dinner before their Friday afternoon game the following day.
Although there weren’t too many Swedes on the team, Lindblom enjoyed the company of players, including Robert Hägg, Erik Gustafsson, and Christian Folin during their stints in Philadelphia. Now, Lindblom is the only Swede on the team and he didn’t have extravagant plans for this year’s Thanksgiving.
“Food-wise, probably nothing special,” Lindblom said. “Not really into that stuffing and all that.”
With the Flyers playing on the Friday following Thanksgiving day every season dating back to 1997 (except for the years when the NHL was not operating in 2004, 2012, and 2020), captain Claude Giroux said it’s difficult to make plans as a team for dinner the night before.
“We try to if the schedule lets us,” Giroux said. “But obviously our schedule’s a lot, it’s really hard. So anytime you have a guy that doesn’t have family over, you try to bring them together.”