Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR5) Gm 7: FLA 3, PHI 4 – UgWy
Ladies and gentlemen, your Metropolitan Division-leading Philadelphia Flyers. No, that’s not a typo. The Flyers are leading their division with a mere 75 games to go in the 2022-23 season, securing a 4-3 WIN over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. In fact, the Flyers are fifth in the entire league right now, with only Boston and Vegas currently holding more points to their name.
There are two ways for a team like the Flyers, expected to be one of the league’s worst, to beat the Panthers, expected to be one of the best. The first is a total team effort, taking advantage of a depleted Florida defense with relentless pressure that also prevents their star forwards from handling the puck for extended amounts of time. Working together to be something greater than the sum of your parts. The type of teamwork that John Tortorella undoubtedly envisioned as the start of the team’s turnaround when he arrived in June.
Or, Carter Hart could stand on his head and stop nearly everything the Panthers fired his way. Take a guess as to which scenario actually played out.
It wouldn’t be as surprising if this wasn’t happening literally every game. The Flyers are 5-0-0 with Hart in net this season. They are 28th in shot prevention and expected goals against per 60 in all situations. It’s a bit surprising because the Flyers improved their defense over the offseason and all of their notable injuries are at forward. Granted, they aren’t much better at shot creation or expected goals for per 60, which is being masked by the NHL’s ninth-best shooting percentage. But that was supposed to be a problem. Defense at least had the potential to not be a weakness for the Flyers. It just makes the growing amount of glaring breakdowns and jaw-dropping turnovers that much more frustrating.
That’s not to say the Flyers should apologize for their early season victories. Goaltending is a part of the sport, and for years, it’s held the Flyers back. Hart can’t play at a .947 save percentage forever. But is undeniably good for the Flyers that Hart, who was 60th out of 63 goalies with at least 30 games played over the last two years in save percentage, is once again justifying the hype. Maybe Hart is the goaltender that carries the Flyers back to greatness in a few years. Maybe he winds up being a massive trade chip if the team’s aggressive retool spirals.
If nothing else, Hart is giving the Flyers time to figure things out. The Flyers may not be a good team this season. But they can be at least a little better than their current state. It’s always easy to make adjustments when you’re riding the boost of winning. Philadelphia tail spun in past years when they lost a few games and let everything slip away from them. If nothing else, having Tortorella should prevent their fundamentals from falling apart at the seams again. But is that enough for the Flyers to take some of the burden off Hart? That’s for the whole team — including their red-hot goalie — to decide.
Joel Farabee has now scored in two of the Flyers’ last three games after failing to score in his first four.
Thursday marked Philadelphia’s first win against the Panthers since Feb. 13, 2020.
The Flyers made a new addition to their roster before this game, claiming 2016 first-round pick Kieffer Bellows off waivers from the Islanders.
The Flyers allowed 51 shots on Thursday, the most they’ve allowed since conceding 52 to Pittsburgh on Nov. 27, 2017.
3rd – Aleksander Barkov (FLA) – Assist (5), 6 SOG, 58% Faceoffs, 24:17 TOI
2nd – Kevin Hayes (PHI) – 2 Assists (8, 9)
1st – Travis Konecny (PHI) – 2 Assists (3, 4), 3 Hits, 3 Blocked Shots, 22:14 TOI
FLA: 10/29, 4 PM vs. OTT (4-3-0)
PHI: 10/29, 7 PM vs. CAR (4-2-1)
All Advanced Stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick unless otherwise stated