FFR2 Gm 14: CAR 1, PHI 4 - Carterilization
Now that's the Carter Hart we know and love!
Behind a dominant performance in goal and a 3rd period resurgence, the Philadelphia Flyers WIN, 4-1, over the Carolina Hurricanes, proving once again that nice people finish first and a Bunch of Jerks will finish last (if you ignore the standings).
This wasn't the Flyers best game of the season by far. In may go down as one of their ugliest wins of the season, depending on how things play out. Carolina started the game strong and never really stopped pressuring the Flyers defense, spending a large part of the game in the offensive zone. At 5-on-5, the Hurricanes had a stellar 60.49% Corsi. This wasn't just a case of one dominant period skewing a stat - Carolina was consistently effective on the forecheck and sustaining their cycles.
But this type of game may have been the best thing for the Flyers, or at least for Carter Hart. This looked more like a game under Scott Gordon's Flyers from last season, when Hart had to bail his teammates out on multiple occasions.
Obviously, it would be better if the Flyers didn't rely on their goaltender so heavily. However, it gave Hart the chance to build on his solid performance from Friday night and officially put his poor October in the rearview mirror. And boy, did he ever. Hart was sensational all night long. He stopped several dangerous scrambles around the crease, deflections, rebounds in tight, one-timers from the slot, even a partial breakaway. Hart was a huge reason the Flyers emerged victorious Tuesday night.
To their credit, the Flyers did spot Hart an early lead. After a couple of huge early saves, Travis Konecny drew a high-sticking penalty. With a mish-mash of personnel from both PP units, Matt Niskanen sold a slap-pass perfectly, allowing Sean Couturier to re-direct the puck past former Flyers... how should I save this... player Petr Mrazek and into the back of the net.
Carolina's on-going control in the offensive zone was bound to lead to a goal eventually. Sure enough, Lucas Wallmark took advantage of one of the Flyers breakdowns and tapped home a sweet pass from... van Riemsdyk - JAMES HOW COULD YOU, oh right, Trevor's playing in this game, too.
Regardless of who set it up, it was a pretty good goal. Watch it on replay if you have the chance. It's the only way to gain an appreciation for the hands of TVR, and the dedication of Wallmark. Look as he heroically bumps into Carter Hart's pad and then knocks his stick out of Hart's hands-does anyone know why the Flyers didn't challenge this? It probably wouldn't have counted!
But if if's and but's were candy and nuts, then maybe the Flyers would actually play better and try not to give up that same goal eight more times before the period ended. All in all, they were outshot 23-15 through 40 minutes and only generated 0.29 expected goals.
They would more than double that number in the 3rd period. The NHL's second highest scoring team in the third period broke the tie early, when Matt Niskanen's point shot tipped to a Travis Konecny tap-in at the side of the net just 72 seconds in. It gave the Flyers a pep in their step they had been lacking all evening, and it showed as the period progressed. Tyler Pitlick drew a penalty about a minute later, as the Flyers continued to pressure.
Carolina started to even play out as the period progressed, but they didn't look a team trailing in the 3rd period by any stretch. Usually, teams losing late are pushing play consistently and being as effective as the Canes were the first two periods.
But then Joel Farabee found the puck on his stick on the left wing and decided that if the Hurricanes were going to wear their college-looking alternate jerseys, then he was going to act like he was playing against college players. Farabee blew by Jake Gardiner to the net and buried his own rebound, scoring his second goal of the season (second one that looked offside, too, but the first one of that sort that actually counted).
There was no way the Flyers were losing after that. To top it all, Phil Myers made the riskiest backhand, right up the gut breakout pass that Tyler Pitlick tipped along to spring Claude Giroux on a breakaway. G took a big windup, but it was all a disguise as he settled on a wrist shot through the wickets of Mrazek and his gorgeous Stadium Series "Are you not entertained?" celly, putting the contest to bed.
It's hard to capture how much the Flyers power play has improved in just one stat, but I think this one might do it. The Flyers scored 12 power play goals in their first 33 games last year. They've got 13 goals in 14 games this season.
The same goes for the penalty kill, which is now a red-hot 23 for their last 25 attempts, highlighted by a huge kill around the mid-point of the period when the lead was only one.
About the Canes goal - perhaps the reason the Flyers didn't review it because Carter Hart didn't give much of a reaction to it. Believe me, I hate athletes whose first instinct is when they feel the slightest touch is to flop and complain. But there's something to be said about making the refs, and especially your video coach, aware of blatant contact when it happens.
Per John Clark, the Flyers 16 points are the most they've had through 14 games since 2014-15 (also 16 at 7-5-2).
Even with the victory, younger Trevor still holds the all-time lead in the Battle of the van Riemsdyks, 6-5. James does have more points head-to-head, though.
Two members of the Flyers right side on defense stood out to me.
To my eyes, Phil Myers also had a pretty good game as well. He moved the puck well and posted Corsi and xGF percentages higher than his teammates. His assist was probably more luck and boldness than skill, but it counts all the same. He appears to be nearly done readjusting to the faster, more physical pace of the NHL. His improving play is being shown in his ice-time: Myers played a career-high 20:30, the second time he's cracked the 20-minute mark.
But Matt Niskanen is the obvious standout - he had two assists and made smart plays with the puck all night, and also led the Flyers perfect PK in time-on-ice. All of that earned him the POG helmet (tying Hart, Elliott, Raffl, TK, JVR, and Lindblom).
"Winning is fun boys, let's keep it up" - Matt Niskanen. Couldn't wrap it up better myself.
1st - Travis Konecny (PHI) - Game-Winning Goal, 54.72% xGF
2nd - Joel Farabee (PHI) - 1 Goal, +16.04 CF% Rel TM
3rd - Carter Hart (PHI) - .971 SV%
CAR - 11/7 vs. NYR (5-6-1, L1)
PHI - 11/7 vs. MTL (7-5-2, L1)