Red flags are starting to be raised as Philadelphia Flyers backup goaltender Ray Emery has missed three straight games with what was supposed to be a minor groin injury. It turns out that the injury may be more serious than originally thought.
As reported by CSNPhilly.com Flyers Insider Tim Panaccio, Emery has a groin pull and is still out of commission. Emery had apparently tweaked his groin in the practice prior to the game against the San Jose Sharks. Then he tweaked it again in the third period against the Sharks and had to leave the game. Emery returned to practice on Tuesday, however he wasn't game-ready.
In the meantime, the Flyers have been recalling Cal Heeter from the Adirondack Phantoms to backup Steve Mason. Heeter has been called up to the Flyers for the past three games and is itching for a chance to start. Heeter will be the backup once again to Mason as Emery will not be traveling with the team to Toronto when the Flyers take on the Maple Leafs Saturday night.
Heeter, 25, has 35 games under his belt with the Phantoms this season. He has a .916 save percentage and a 2.38 goals-against average. Last season, he played in 32 games with the Phantoms and eight games with the Trenton Titans of the ECHL. He posted a .908 save percentage and a 2.92 goals-against average with the Phantoms last season.
Heeter hasn't played in a game at the NHL-level so the Flyers will wait as long as possible before giving him a chance to start. If Emery's groin injury is worse than the Flyers originally thought, then Heeter would have to remain the backup as the Flyers didn't make any moves for a goalie at the trade deadline.
With that in mind, Mason would have to rest a few games between now and the end of the season. Therefore, Heeter would have to start a game if Emery is unable to return soon. There is no telling how Heeter may perform as the Flyers are in the middle of a playoff stretch run. That's a lot of pressure to put on the shoulders of a goalie who hasn't been in this situation before.
A sign that he might be starting a game in the near future came at practice on Thursday. Since being called up, Heeter has only been a warm-ups goalie. However, he saw himself participating in practice for about 30 minutes on Thursday. If Heeter started getting in more practice time, than expect him to be between the pipes in an upcoming game.
Cal Heeter, CSNPhilly.com, Flyers, goalie, Hockey, injury, Maple Leafs, NHL, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Flyers, Ray Emery, Tim Panaccio