2020-21 NHL Season Preview: Are the Philadelphia Flyers goaltenders behind Carter Hart strong enough with Brian Elliott and Alex Lyon?
the Circulars are going to be good this coming season, we think. But what is it good for? A legitimate suitor? The same team they were last year? A bubble team? Worst? Each team faces questions that will determine how good they will be, and we’ll be looking at 10 keys to them by the time the puck is handed over on January 13.
For the first time since what seems extremely Squints of Sandlot’s voice always, the Flyers don’t have at least some sort of question mark in the crease before a season.
And that’s because – well – Carter Hart is really, really, good.
However, Hart’s mere presence doesn’t ultimately mean that the Flyers are indeed absent from questions in the enclosure – although it significantly lessens the usual tension surrounding the situation for teams’ goalkeepers.
These questions relate to several factors, but not the ones you would expect.
For one, the 2020-21 NHL regular season will be a 56-game sprint to the Stanley Cup playoffs in a truncated time frame of just under four months. The Flyers will play eight straight over the coming season and have a handful of two more games in three-night scenarios to deal with.
While phenomenal, Carter Hart just can’t play all 56 games – and that’s where Brian Elliott comes in.
A grizzled veteran, the 35-year-old returned to the Flyers this offseason for a one-year contract as general manager Chuck Fletcher sought to keep Hart’s save at a manageable cap number with the pandemic forcing the league to a flat ceiling year. Elliott played with a .899 save percentage in 31 games last season and posted a 2.87 goals-against average supported by a pair of shutouts. Advanced metrics weren’t pretty either with a -8.02 GSAA rating (goals recorded above average).
But armed with a mostly capped club and better options for veterans not wanting to play for free (go figure), Fletcher turned to Elliott to entrust him with the Hart save once again this season. Ideally, you would have liked to see Fletcher improve this place and lighten the workload to make sure Hart is rested for the big games while still performing above average, but the Flyers weren’t the only team to have it. the pressure thanks to COVID-19.
Not only is Elliott on call in Hart’s absence, so too is unproven AHL mainstay Alex Lyon, who is the Flyers’ de facto third goaltender this season. as the NHL rolls out protections against a Domino’s delivery driver getting dressed. for a game.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnson had the details, which leaves Lyon as the man in time of need for whatever reason.
NHL teams must have at least three goaltenders at all times this season, between the active roster and the taxi team.
– Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) December 20, 2020
Lyon’s NHL-level numbers are what you’d expect from a career AHL goalie: .893 save percentage, goals against well above the league average of 3.15 . It is also play in just 16 games, and it’s not as if the Flyers haven’t had chances in the fold during Lyon’s time with the organization.
It’s not an ideal tandem behind Hart, who has proven to be one of the best young goalies in the NHL since his recall a few years ago. That leaves the Flyers in a bind if something were to happen and he was to miss some time in the shortened season.
The hope is that Hart stays healthy and ends up playing most of the calendar given he is young enough to handle the workload and is significantly better even with little rest than Elliott or Lyon. behind him. But considering how the pandemic has rocked the sports world, it’s fair to wonder if the Flyers have enough behind Hart to survive such a circumstance.
Elliott, a former Jennings Trophy winner in St. Louis, has had a great career – and reinvented himself several times in the process – but make no mistake, the Flyers will be in serious trouble if he has to play more. eight against ten games this season.
Maybe Elliott has more gas in the tank and the Flyers are good enough ahead of him – or Lyon – to tread without their No.1, but we’re sure that’s a scenario that Fletcher, Alain Vigneault and Cie would not prefer to see them play.
Chances are, the Flyers will go as far as Carter Hart takes them.