One of the most intriguing storylines of the Philadelphia Flyers 2019-20 season was the Jekyll and Hyde play of sophomore goalie Carter Hart. Taking a look at his numbers from a glance tells the tale of an above average NHL goaltender. Posting a 2.42 goals against average and .914 save percentage in 43 games, would rank him 8th and 24th in the league respectively. It isn’t until those stats gets broken down a bit that a different, more alarming, story begins to unfold.
Carter Hart was outstanding at home, registering a .943 save percentage and 1.63 goals against average. Those numbers alone would blow the current three Vezina finalists’ home stats out of the water (Rask .925/2.15 Hellebuyck .925/2.42 Vasilevski .915/2.54).
So what separates the rest from Carter Hart? Well those three were able to post the same numbers on the road. Hart’s numbers away from the Wells Fargo Center were abysmal, posting a .857 save percentage and 3.81 goals against average. His last three games away from the WFC actually showed signs of improvement, flashing .931, .974, .966 save percentages in a in a stretch against the Bruins, Sabres, and Hurricanes.
Now that the playoffs will all be away from Philadelphia, first in Toronto, and later in Edmonton, will Hart’s road struggles rear their ugly head once again?
With no real explanation of why Hart’s numbers were so vastly different, there’s not a solid answer to that question. Could be his overall inexperience, could be a result of the team in front of him not playing as hard, or could just be an anomaly that once it got into his head, he struggled to regain his confidence on the road.
Hart started the Flyers exhibition contest against the Penguins, playing 40 minutes and made 11 of 12 saves, though didn’t face any real challenging shots before being relieved by Brian Elliott for the third period and eventual overtime. It was his first taste of hockey in the bubble and seemed to handle the game just fine, a promising start to what hopes to be a long playoff run.
The Flyers won’t be in Philly anytime soon, so Hart will have to learn to play without his safety blanket known as the Wells Fargo Center if the Flyers stand a chance in the playoffs, though if his head is in the game during his first NHL playoff appearance, He will be as dangerous as ever and could lead the Flyers to the promised land.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: phillyvoice.com