Flyers coach Alain Vigneault did not divulge his goaltending plans for the next two games during his chat with the media Monday, but he’s got to split the games between Carter Hart and Brian Elliott. Right?
Game 4 will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Game 5 will be at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
The Flyers had 11 instances of back-to-back games during the regular season, and at no time did Vigneault start the same goalie twice. No surprise there. Brian Elliott made $2 million this year. He’s gotta earn, too.
Vigneault has coached in 145 playoff games, and only twice has he encountered back-to-backs. He used Henrik Lundqvist both times. Lundqvist was 32 at the time and still in his prime during the Rangers’ 2014 run to the Stanley Cup Finals under Vigneault.
My best (updated) guess is that Hart gets Game 4 and, if he has another scorching performance, will get the chance to close it out in Game 5. Disagree? Let’s hear from you in our Twitter poll.
You’re signed up to get this newsletter in your inbox twice a week for the rest of the Flyers season. If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here. We want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or, more preferably, on Twitter (@EdBarkowitz). Thank you for reading.
— Ed Barkowitz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Within seconds of the final horn Sunday, Flyers stats maven Brian Smith sent out a note that Hart was the youngest Flyers goalie ever to record a shutout in a playoff game.
Having been around Hart for most of the last two seasons in person and for the last month by Zoom, I’m continually impressed by how the kid stays so darn grounded. He was pulled from Friday night’s Game 2 and came back in Game 3 and pitched a shutout, albeit with some help from his goal posts.
I asked him what he did between games to both forget about allowing four goals in 38 minutes and to prepare for the next contest, which was about 48 hours later.
“We has a nice, little pool workout.,” he said, turning toward veteran Michael Raffl with a laugh. “It ended up being a competition for who can hold their breath under the water the longest and who could swim the farthest. That was pretty fun. Just had some fun with the boys and get away from the game a little bit.”
Hart just turned 22 and has played in 79 games in his career, so there’s a lot of room to grow. But that position is 80% mental. Heaven knows we’ve had some loons around here in net the last 45 years who seemed a few sandwiches short of a picnic.
Stepping away from the ice for some goofy water sports is OK. If there’s one thing Vigneault has maintained all year is that he trusts his young goaltender.
“Some of these games, it’s a quick turnaround when you play at 8 and then you play at 3 a day and a half later,” Hart said. “I think it’s important when you have a day there to get away from the game and just have fun with the boys.”
Carter Hart, at 22 years and 3 days, is the youngest Flyers goalie to record a postseason shutout. Here is the rest of the top 5:
Pete Peeters (22 years, 246 days), 1980: Shut out the Rangers in New York in a game he wasn’t sure he was starting until the day before. Peeters and Phil Myre had split duties all season, and Peeters played (and won) the previous two games. Myre, who had been spectacular in a double-overtime win over Wayne Gretzky’s Oilers in the prelim round, was not happy at being benched. … It was the first time the Flyers won a postseason game in Madison Square Garden (0-5). … Peeters was 24 when he was dealt to Boston for Brad McCrimmon.
Ron Hextall (22 years, 343 days), 1987: Stopped 34 shots as the Rangers were shut out for the first time all season. It also was the first time the Rangers had been shut out at home in a postseason game since (drum roll, please) Pete Peeters in the item listed above in 1980. … “He’s an awfully unique rookie,” captain Dave Poulin said of Hextall.
Hextall (22 years, 348 days), 1987: The Flyers closed out the series with another Hextall donut at MSG. No one could have known that Hextall, who would lead the Flyers to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals that season, would never have another postseason shutout in his career. … Hextall was the general manager when the Flyers drafted Hart in the second round in 2016.
Brian Boucher (23-105), 2000: Boucher carried the Flyers to a victory over Hall of Famer Dominik Hasek and the Sabres to give the Flyers a commanding 3-0 lead. Buffalo was held without a goal for a stretch of 111 minutes, 59 seconds as the Flyers won the series in five games. It would be the only full shutout of his career. Boucher split one in a 2010 game with Michael Leighton after Boucher was injured midway through.
Wednesday, Aug. 12: Game 1, Flyers beat Montreal, 2-1
Friday: Game 2, Montreal ‘embarrasses’ Flyers, 5-0
Sunday: Game 3, Flyers make early goal hold up, 1-0
Today: Game 4, vs. Montreal, 3 p.m. (NBCSP, NBCSN)
Tomorrow: Game 5, vs. Montreal, 8 p.m. (NBCSP, NBCSN)
*Friday: Game 6, vs. Montreal, TBD
*Sunday: Game 7, vs. Montreal, TBD
*-If necessary. … Games in Toronto. … The Flyers are the designated home team in Games 1, 2, 5 and 7.
Question: It would be great to see Oskar Lindblom return for us at some point in the playoffs, but I’m wondering where he would slot in. Would you break up the top line, or try to fit him in on the 2nd or 3rd line somewhere? — Steve via Twitter (@3w0kaw0ka)
Answer: Great question. First of all, unless they get their offense in gear, they won’t be going deep enough to give Lindblom the necessary time he needs to rebuild his conditioning. That said, I’d put him where he was in late November — with Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek. Put Claude Giroux with Hayes and Travis Konecny. This is all purely conjecture, of course, but scoring three goals in three games isn’t getting it done.