2020/21 Flyers Player Ranks – Goalkeepers
In the first of our series ranking each player by position, we’ll start with the men between the pipes. Suffice it to say, it seemed like a historically bad year for Flyers goaltenders, and maybe it was. Of all the NHL teams, the Flyers were last in goaltending save percentage, and only managed to shut out their opponents in three games. To put it in perspective, the league’s average team save percentage was 0.903%, and the Flyers only managed 0.880%.
Arguably it’s the team’s overall defense that has happened to the Flyers for most of the season, and goalkeepers have been left behind. While this is probably a strong part of why the Flyers’ goalkeepers were so poor in numbers, it fails to excuse a lack of fundamentals in the position that was sometimes exposed during the eye test. Yes, there were some key moments when Flyer’s goalies (especially Brian Elliott) kept them in games. However, there were also too many times we were seated thinking that he should have had this one.
So, without further ado, let’s note a few goalies. Not that there are many (cough cough 2018-19). Only three goalkeepers have adapted for the Flyers this year, and here they are:
Games started: 25, W: 9, SV%: 0.877, GAA: 3.67
Carter Hart’s third season in the NHL can only be described as disappointing, but there’s no reason to overreact and waste energy thinking he’s somehow a 22-bust. years.
Hart was never completely successful in hitting the ground in 2020-21, and although he did have some good performances, they were few and far between. All the times Hart has appeared to lose goals (Hart has scored more than 4 goals in three straight starts for the first time in his career) has tarnished the positive nature of his strong performance. This led to the reset period in late March / early April, and although Hart came out of it playing better, his season was ultimately cut short when the Flyers decided to shut Hart down for the year after a knee injury.
It’s been a particularly disappointing year since we saw Hart miss saves he normally would easily make, and play almost small at the net, a hallmark of his game when he struggles. However, he’s a young goalie and his post-reset play shows he’s mentally resilient and able to correct himself. Hart has struggled before (like all young goaltenders) and we must also remember that factors outside of NHL life affect these athletes. Hart’s post-season comments make it clear that it has been a tough year for him, as it has been for many, and living under such circumstances that were agreed upon leading up to the 2020-2021 NHL season cannot be easy.
Hart is still a young goalie with eons of promise, and although it has been a bad season for him, he has all the tools to bounce back.
To note: VS
Games started: 26, W: 15, SV%: 0.889, GAA: 3.06
As a backup goaltender, throughout his years as a Flyer, Brian Elliott has been fantastic. It’s no secret that (generally, unless you’re Jaromir Jagr) older players need more rest and time to regain their physical strength. When he’s at 100%, Elliott is the perfect replacement, and in 2020-21 he has kept the Flyers squarely in games with his quality of play.
However, with Carter Hart struggling, Elliott has been pushed into a starting role that he lacks the capacity to fill at this point. It’s not Elliott’s fault. He just wears out when he plays too much, and it shows in his savings percentage of 0.889%. This statistic doesn’t fully measure how well Elliott played when he was used in the role he should be, but overall he remains an accurate judge for a season he had no other in. choice than to be played more than he may be able to.
Elliott was good, great when he needed it, but overuse ultimately led to a less than ideal season.
To note: B-
Games started: 5, W: 1, SV%: 0.893, GAA: 3.33
Alex Lyon is certainly doing his best, and when Carter Hart rested for a reset, Lyon were pushed into NHL games. However, Lyon are simply not an NHL-caliber goalie.
It wasn’t like Lyon had downright played terribly in any of the games he appeared in. Lyon held the Buffalo Sabers to a single raised goal (a tough task for this Flyer team) and left just two goals apiece against Pittsburgh and Washington. However, it’s easy to see that Lyon are probably a goalie in the AHL.
There was certainly no expectation from Lyon when he was called up, but that doesn’t mean he lived above expectations.
To note: VS