Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 50: PHI 1, NYR 0 - Stolz It
Stollie the Starter?
Goaltending is a thing which the Flyers possess and I am loving every second of it! The Philadelphia Flyers WIN, 1-0, over the New York Rangers (should’ve stuck with Gritty, Jimmy Fallon). For those of you keeping track at home, that’s win number 5 in a row for the Orange and Black.
Hockey may be the ultimate team sport (at least that’s what every coach, announcer, and executive will tell you), but that mantra only goes so far. As like any other sport, a game can be won if one player just goes off, even if the rest of the team isn’t playing very well. The Flyers have had them happen to them over the years, sure. But the difference was tonight, instead of it being Claude Giroux or Sean Couturier or Carter Hart doing the lifting, it was (checks notes) the 25-year old 4th string goalie who hasn’t played an NHL game in over a month.
I never said hockey made any sense either.
While the Flyers had been winning before they went on their bye week, both advanced metrics and my eyes said the team wasn’t playing great. Granted, this was probably just karma for all the times the Flyers have played well this year, only to be let down by their goaltending. And while a 20-year old goalie manning the helm would’ve been a surprise for most teams, Carter Hart is no ordinary teenage goalie.
Yet Monday’s game against Winnipeg seemed to be an instance of the team turning the corner. And don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean the Flyers are reverting back to their troubled ways. Teams are supposed to get fatigued as the second half of a back-to-back wears on - it’s a grind unlike any they face from an in-game perspective in the NHL. The important thing for the Flyers to do was strike while the iron was hot. And they did - just 100 seconds in, Oskar Lindblom started a play off with a good shot from the slot, continued it with a below the goal line pass, and finished it with a backhander in front. I just would’ve liked to see the Flyers strike again.
Granted, I would’ve taken a better all-around effort, too. The Flyers were doubled up on the shot clock, 38-19, which generally isn’t a recipe for success. And while it’s not even the largest margin they’ve been outshot by on this win streak (42-19 by Boston), it didn’t feel like a win at first.
But that’s because we weren’t used to super saiyan Anthony Stolarz, which became a thing for 60 glorious minutes on a bitter-cold Tuesday night. Time and time again, Stollie was up to the task. Redirections, odd-man rushes, passing plays, it didn’t matter. Stollie seriously owes Chris Kreider a card after this game - the dude had like five 10-bell chances, and couldn’t get a single one by. You could sense the frustration of the Rangers boiling as the clock ticked down from period to period with the giant goose egg still hanging over their heads.
In a game like this, the opposition usually is able to make that one final desperate push, concentrating all their best efforts into one final burst. Think of it as a final exam, although for me a mid-term might be better, since I’m starting my tomorrow (today by the time you’re reading this). And yet Anthony Stolarz had every answer. Calm, poised, collected, Stollie could’ve passed for Carter Hart tonight if Starter had a sudden growth spurt between now and Monday night.
Philadelphia didn’t thrive, but they survived, and extend their winning streak once again. Even if 10 points seems a bit more tangible in terms of pulling off a miracle, the Flyers are surely in a state of too little, too late. Still, the positives that they are starting to build are encouraging. Momentum isn’t a thing that lasts for a period, or a game, or a week. It can last as long as you want it. For now, though, let’s just enjoy the ride.
Tuesday was the first time the Flyers have won a game 1-0 since they beat Montreal 1-0 in a shootout on 2/26/18. It’s their first 1-0 regulation win since the 2015 home opener (October 12th) against Florida.
The Flyers have also won 6 straight games against the Rangers, including 3 straight at MSG and 3 of the last 4 overall via shutout, with a different goalie recording each one (Elliott, Pickard, Stolarz).
As I mentioned, Anthony Stolarz was flat-out dominant. He posts his 2nd career shutout, his first since 11/12/16 @ Detroit. Difference is he only faced 28 shots over 62:44 (it was an OTW), while the Flyers got 36. He was the X-factor tonight. Combined with his good start to the season, Stollie is making an interesting case as to what the Flyers should do with their backup situation both now and in the future.
Gostisbehere should be back Thursday or Saturday, per Gordon.
In fairness, the Rangers probably had a little rust to shake off themselves, having not played a game in 10 days. Backup Alex Georgiev was in net, although he played pretty well when called upon. They also were only able to dress 11 forwards tonight, and saw that number further dwindle when Brett Howden left in the 2nd period with a knee sprain (he didn’t return). Don’t let that diminish Stollie’s performance for you.
The Flyers broke up the 5-forward PP1 formation with a power play late in the game (Provy replaced Simmonds), likely guarding extra tight against an SHG. Sounds fine, until you realize that means elite power play specialist Andrew MacDonald takes to the ice again. And you wonder why the PP is 0/4 since returning from the bye week.
Update on the goalie situation: Mike McKenna has been sent to the Phantoms on a conditioning assignment. He does not have to clear waivers, but in 14 days he must be put on waivers or recalled. My guess is the former happens, but we'll see.
Seriously, did I mention how good Stolarz was? Holy cow, that guy was a freak.
1st - A. Stolarz (PHI) - 1.000 SV% (38 Saves/38 Shots)
2nd - O. Lindblom (PHI) - 1 G
3rd - A. Georgiev (NYR) - .947 SV% (18 Saves/19 Shots)
PHI - 1/31 @ BOS (27-17-6)
NYR - 1/31 @ NJD (19-23-7)