In the third and final installment of the Flyers Mid-Terms, Philly Sports Network takes a look at the goalies, and gives out grades for both netminders.
Now that the break is over and the Flyers are back in action Friday night, it’s a great time to cap off our mid-season grades here at Philly Sports Network. Ricky Amandeo had you covered when it comes to defensemen, and Eric Reese had you covered with the forwards. Now, I’ll take you through our goalies and grade out how they’ve done so far.
Compared to the debacle in the crease last year, the Flyers are faring pretty well. For starters, they’ve only used three goalies in the first 50 games of the season. Compare that to the seven they used to this point last season. Each goalie got at least six starts, discounting Alex Lyon (1), and Mike McKenna (1). Carter Hart had already made his Flyers debut, and Michal Neuvirth was probably injured. Surprise.
If it weren’t for the Carter Hart injury, the Flyers would only have had two goaltenders play to this point in the season. Alex Lyon started one game for the Flyers, equalling his starts from last season. Overall, the goaltending situation has been vastly superior to last years.
Maybe a B- is a bit harsh for the second year goaltender. However, when you peel back the stats and look at how vastly different his home appearances are to his games on the road, it makes a little more sense.
At home, Carter Hart is lights out. His 13-2-2 record speaks for itself. He’s stopped 451 of 480 shots, allowing 29 goals in 17 games. He owns a .940 save percentage and 1.69 goals against average. He’s been stellar, there’s no other way to describe his home play.
Then he goes on the road…
In 15 appearances on the road, Hart is 2-9-1, allowing 3 goals per game on average, and owning a 4.01 goals against average. His .850 save percentage is the sore thumb that really sticks out. His road performance is the most concerning factor to his game right now, and it needs to be better for the Flyers to live up to expectations.
Overall, Hart has been decent. He owns a 15-11-3 record and has surrendered 74 goals in 32 games. His .905 save percentage and 2.61 goals against average is tops on the Flyers. If Hart can find a way to succeed on the road, there’s no doubt that he grades out to an A at the end of the year.
Brian Elliott grading higher than Carter Hart? Let me explain.
Carter Hart is the starter in Philadelphia. With that role, comes higher expectations. Brian Elliott was brought back to be his backup, and has been filling that role admirably. While his home/away stats aren’t so starkly different as Harts’, there is still a contrast in playing at home versus on the road.
On the road, Elliott possesses a .895 save percentage and 3.28 goals against average. He also owns an 8-4-1 record in 17 games. His numbers are better than Hart on the road, but still not the greatest overall. His home performance has been very solid for a backup. He is 4-1-2 with a .923 save percentage and a 2.11 goals against average in seven games. As a backup, those are fairly solid numbers.
Overall, Elliott is 12-5-3 in 24 games, and posts a .904 save percentage and a 2.89 goals against average. Those numbers don’t exactly scream “B grade,” but what does is the games that he steps up for.
After a putrid road trip that neither goalie really seemed to find their footing, Hart went down with an abdominal injury. In three games played after that road trip, Elliott went 3-0-0, saving 83 of 87 shots, only allowing four goals. That’s good for a .954 save percentage and a 1.30 goals against average. Not to mention, two out of those three opponents are two of the top teams in the NHL. When tasked with stepping up, Elliott steps up in a big way.
Call it a cop-out, but playing one game this season makes it fairly difficult to grade someone’s performance in the NHL. In that one game, Lyon did stop 36 of 40 shots against a Montreal team that is a middle-of-the-pack type of team. He didn’t end up getting the win, but he performed better in that one game than his one game last season.
Lyon has been great for Lehigh Valley. He’s 10th in the AHL in save percentage (.916) and 17th in goals against average (2.59), but has played in more games than 14 of the goalies in front of him in that category.
Lyon may not be the NHL goalie some thought after the 2017-18 season, but he can plug in and play when injuries arise, and do a decent job at it.
The Next 32
The home stretch is upon us, kicking off Friday night with a game against the in-state rival Pittsburgh Penguins. With Carter Hart still sidelined, look for Brian Elliott to carry a majority of the load until he returns, further solidifying his spot as a premier backup in the NHL.
When Carter Hart returns, he has some work to do on the road. If he can improve on his road performance while maintaining his performances at home, look out.
Mandatory Credit – © James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports