Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 53: VAN 1, PHI 2 - 2Karter
Now February 4th can be remembered as one of the greatest days in Philadelphia sports history.
Exactly one year after the Philadelphia Eagles made history with their first Super Bowl win, the Flyers make some of their own with their 2,000th (and 8th straight) WIN, 2-1, over the Vancouver Canucks.
Of those 2,000 wins I'm pretty sure Carter Hart has about 1,500 of them.
The Flyers young but heroic goaltender has been tasked with carrying the Flyers to the majority of the victories on this win streak. And early on, it looked like this would be the case again. Hart was forced to make an incredible point-blank save on Brandon Sutter within the first two minutes, and then the Flyers were immediately forced with killing off a penalty. Here we go again, Flyers fans thought. Better have your A game, Carter.
But after killing that penalty off, the Flyers started to find their stride. After being outshot 8-2 in the first half of the frame, the Flyers bounced back in the latter half, outshooting Vancouver 12-2 the rest of the way. This margin was aided by two Philadelphia power plays, the later of which bore fruit. Travis Konecny took an outstanding zone entry from Nolan Patrick and fed the puck cross-ice to a wide-open elite 1st line center Sean Couturier. Coots buries his second PPG in as many games, keeping the Flyers man advantage on fire and giving them a 1-0 lead right before intermission.
The Flyers kept their good passing habits up early in the 2nd. With the team in the midst of a change, Phil Varone made an outstanding stretch pass, springing Jake Voracek on a breakaway. Jake da Snake made no mistake, beating Jacob Markstrom with a beautiful backhand-forehand move for his 12th goal of the year, doubling up the Flyers lead.
That 2-goal advantage was short-lived, however. In a rare display of being human, Carter Hart made a mistake trying to play a rolling puck in the high slot. He beat the oncoming Canuck to it but played the puck right to Brock Boeser, and the second-year sniper cashed in with ease, pulling the Canucks within 1 by the end of the 2nd period.
Overall, the first 40 minutes of the game were pretty even. Shots were 24-22 Philadelphia, both teams took 2 penalties, and the scoreboard reflected as such. However, the Flyers apparently thought they were being coached by Dave Hakstol again and proceeded to "turtle." The Flyers collapsed into their shell (the defensive zone) for most of the frame, as puck possession was dominated by the Canucks exponentially as time wound down. Still, the Flyers were able to weather the storm. Until...
With about 5 minutes to play, and Vancouver on the power play, Ben Hutton let a wrister go from the point. It got blocked, but of course the rebound trickled right over to a wide open Nikolai Goldobin. Surely, this would be the tying goal.
But then, a flashing streak of orange magically zoomed from left post to right, arms extended (perhaps looking for a hug), baby face smiling, the fans chanting his name as the action unfolded in slow motion.
CAR-TER HA-RT!!!!! CLAP, CLAP, CLAP CLAP CLAP
A 79-bell save by the wonder kid himself, Starter Hart outdoing himself with the best save on his young NHL career, dropping Calder favorite (but no longer assured winner) Elias Petterson to his knees in agony. The Canucks got a few chances down the stretch, but when Hart made that save, you could see the ending. It's like I said last game - it tense moments like this, it finally feels like the Flyers are going to be the ones to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The Flyers are somehow 5 points out of a playoff spot. No team in NHL history has overcome a 16-point defecit to make a playoff spot, which is the farthest the Flyers were out this season. But no team had won 10 straight games and missed the playoffs in the same season before the Flyers did 2 seasons ago. History can be made as the most unlikely of circumstances. The Flyers may not have math on their side, but they have momentum, hope, and Carter Hart. I'll take that trio any day.
The Flyers are the first non-original 6 team to win 2,000 games and the 2nd fastest team in NHL history to reach the milestone (Montreal did it quicker).
Carter Hart was named the NHL's 2nd Star of the Week, becoming the 6th goalie and 2nd rookie in Flyers history to win the honor.
After a rough start by both the eye test and advanced metrics, Jake Voracek is finally starting to hit his stride. He's got 9 points in 8 games and is back on a 71-point pace. He's also been a key cog in the turnaround of the Flyers power play.
Speaking of slow starters turning into superstars, Sean Couturier is having just as good a season as last year since he shoke off the effects of injury from the playoffs and offseason. Coots has 15 points in his last 11 games, tied for the 3rd most in the NHL over that span.
Of all the stats comparing Scott Gordon to Dave Hakstol, this one stands out to me the most. The Flyers won 3 one-goal games under Hakstol in 33 contests. The Flyers have won 9 such in 20 games played under Gordon, including 4 straight.
The Flyers are now officially over hockey .500 for the first time since 11/13, when they were 9-8-1 after losing a 2-1 contest to Florida (there's another one of those one goal games lost under Hak).
1st - C. Hart (PHI) - .976 SV% (41 Saves/42 Shots)
2nd - J. Voracek (PHI) - 1 G
3rd - S. Couturier (PHI) - 1 G
VAN - 2/5 @ WSH (28-18-6)
PHI - 2/7 vs. LA (21-27-4)