ANAHEIM, Calif. — Carter Hart left the ice after Saturday’s 6-1 loss in San Jose and shattered his stick, slamming it against the runway wall that led to the Flyers’ locker room.
The 21-year-old goalie’s road frustration had reached a boiling point.
Which leads to a question: Will Hart’s dominance at home and struggles on the road cause Flyers coach Alain Vigneault to alter how he uses his goaltender rotation?
Vigneault won’t say, but the rest of the six-game road trip might give a hint as to how the coach plans to handle the situation.
Factoring into the equation: Brian Elliott, the No. 2 goalie, has played well on the road — and much better than Hart. Elliott had 27 saves in Sunday’s 2-1 overtime win in Anaheim.
Hart is 11-1-2 with a 1.49 goals-against average and .947 save percentage at the Wells Fargo Center. On the road, where the entire team has struggled, he is 2-7-1 with a 3.85 GAA and an .851 save percentage.
Elliott, 34, is 2-1-2 with a 2.74 GAA and .900 save percentage at home. On the road, he is 7-3 with a 2.95 GAA and a .909 save percentage. He has won six of his last seven road starts.
“Honestly, I don’t even pay attention to whether it’s home or on the road,” Elliott said after the Flyers, thanks to his goaltending and Kevin Hayes’ overtime goal, outlasted the Ducks. “You just want to win the next game.”
Vigneault was mum on who would start Tuesday in Los Angeles, but he made it clear the Flyers’ road woes are not just because of Hart’s ineffectiveness.
“Carter is like our team. He needs to be better, and at the end of the day, our whole team needs to be better,” Vigneault said. “We’ve talked about it, and now we need to go out on the ice and do it. I don’t see him pressing or anything [to do] with preparation. He’s like the rest of our group. We need to play better.”
Hart and Elliott have each made 10 of the 20 road starts. It’s fair to wonder if Elliott will begin getting more of those starts in the season’s second half.
The Flyers (22-12-5) are 13-2-4 at home and 9-10-1 on the road. They hope their hard-fought win in Anaheim gives them momentum for the last four games of their trip.
“Everyone looks at our record and sees we’re a lot better at home,” said Hart, whose overall GAA is 2.43, fourth best in the NHL among goalies with at least 25 appearances. “But you know what? We just have to stick to our game no matter where we’re at. We just have to battle through it.”
Elliott said the Flyers’ trip-starting 6-1 loss Saturday in San Jose should not be blamed on Hart.
“We came out with a stinker after the [holiday] break and left him hung out to dry,” he said. “That’s not on him. … He’ll put it behind him and move forward to the next game.”