Flyers

How should Flyers utilize Carter Hart and Brian Elliott in 2019-20 season?

How should Flyers utilize Carter Hart and Brian Elliott in 2019-20 season?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jordan Hall and Brooke Destra.

The topic: How will the Flyers' 2019-20 goaltending tandem play out?

Hall

As good as Carter Hart was in 2018-19 and as bright as his future appears, the Flyers will closely watch his workload. He turns only 21 years old this month and will be entering his first full NHL season in 2019-20.

But if Hart is playing well, there's no reason why the Flyers shouldn't ride him as a No. 1. He carried them through a stretch last year and actually provided relevancy to a 2018-19 season that looked seriously lost at one point.

When the Flyers re-signed Brian Elliott in June, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said this about Hart:

We believe strongly that Carter's our goaltender of the future. At times last year, he was our goalie of the present. We certainly anticipate him being one of two goaltenders. But it's no different than anybody — he's going to have to come in and earn his ice time. We do have 17 back-to-backs this year. You guys know how difficult the NHL schedule is with travel. I anticipate both guys playing.

I think the days of a 65- to 70-game goaltender are probably gone. Somewhere in the 30-to-50 range for each guy … it'll depend on performance, health and schedule.

That's fair and sounds about right. If the Flyers can get 50 or so games out of Hart and 30 or so out of Elliott, they would absolutely take it. Ideally, though, if Hart stays healthy and is giving the team the best chance to win, there shouldn't be a problem if the Flyers let him flirt with the range of 60 games.

The better goalies in the league play 60-plus games a season. As a rookie in 2018-19, Jordan Binnington played 58 total games — 32 in the regular season, 26 in the playoffs — and was fine. In fact, he led the Blues to their first-ever Stanley Cup title.

This is not to say Hart will and should absolutely play 60 games. But he should be the Flyers' guy when he's going well — he's the No. 1, Elliott is the No. 2. The 34-year-old should be ready to help if things aren't right with Hart. That's how the Flyers should treat their goalie tandem.

It's Hart's time. 

Destra

I was pro bringing back Elliott, but it will only remain that way if he is going to be utilized the way an aging (and injury prone) goaltender should be. Hart has always been the future and luckily for Flyers fans and the organization — the future is finally here.

The thing with Elliott is he has very solid numbers when he doesn’t play for extended periods of time. If he is well-rested and given enough time to recover in between starts, chances are the Flyers could get very solid performances out of him.

The Flyers do have the tendency to ride with the goalie who has the hot glove but this is what the team needs to avoid in order to keep the balance between the pipes.

This is Hart’s team now and he should only sit when the team is facing back-to-back games. There are 17 different times this season when that is going to occur.

It’s also important to take into account that even though Hart has the green light, he should not be overworked either. If he seems worn out or finds himself in a stretch of games in which he isn’t where he needs to be, let him sit. He’ll be just 21 when the season starts. It’s bound to happen at some point, and that is expected from any up-and-coming player in the league.

In a perfect world, Hart would start 50 games this season and Elliott would play the remaining 32 if (knock on wood) he can remain healthy. Is that asking for a lot? Probably. But there is a different balance heading into October and hopefully for the Flyers it will all work out. 

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What Travis Konecny pondered this summer has him playing like a star for Flyers

What Travis Konecny pondered this summer has him playing like a star for Flyers

As Travis Konecny waited out the entire offseason before inking his new contract, signaling his first real payday in the NHL, there was ample time for self-reflection.

“I thought a lot this summer about who I am as a player,” Konecny said last week.

The 22-year-old was coming off back-to-back 24-goal seasons and looked poised for a significant leap in 2019-20, especially after signing a six-year, $33 million deal.

Konecny wasn’t daydreaming about lofty goals or inflated production.

“I really wanted to do what was best for the team and every single night focus on two points,” he said. “Individual stats kind of come with that, when you’re playing an all-around game for the team. I’m not saying I play an all-around game every single night. I try to do my best to help the team. Some nights are better than the others, but I think that’s been my main focus — really trying to give my best effort every night and be able to go home saying that I tried to do my part.”

On Sunday night, Konecny played more than just a mere part. This was a stage for stars, a game at TD Garden against a team with three Stanley Cup Final appearances and a title over the past nine seasons. Names like David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara were featured in the Bruins’ lineup, opposing Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier and the Flyers.

And Konecny was a star.

He has been one this season for the Flyers, who are off to their best start since 2011-12, when the team last eclipsed 100 points and won a playoff series.

In just over a four-minute span Sunday, Konecny seized control of TD Garden with a goal and primary assist, handing the Flyers a surprising 2-0 lead during the first period. He finished with two points and a plus-2 mark as the Flyers took down the home-dominant Bruins, 3-2, in a shootout (see observations).

Both the mighty Pastrnak and the four-time Selke Trophy award winner Bergeron went scoreless, while Marchand potted a goal.

The Flyers didn’t receive big-time numbers from their household guys as Giroux and Voracek failed to crack the score sheet. James van Riemsdyk and Kevin Hayes also went without point.

But Konecny has made those types of games OK and winnable for the Flyers, even when facing a Bruins group that was 7-0-1 at home and among the NHL’s top-five teams in points, goals per game and fewest goals allowed per game.

Last season, the Flyers were 10-19-2 when Giroux went scoreless and 10-19-2 when Voracek went scoreless. This season, they already have five wins when Giroux has gone scoreless and seven wins when Voracek has gone scoreless.

Sure, Konecny has put up his fair share of points with a team-leading 19 (eight goals, 11 assists) to push the Flyers to a 10-5-2 record through 17 games.

Most importantly, though, he has stuck to what he thought about this summer — consistently doing what is best for his team every single night.

Right now, that’s playing like a star.

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Flyers pick up wild shootout win over Bruins, deliver early statement by sweeping back-to-back road set

Flyers pick up wild shootout win over Bruins, deliver early statement by sweeping back-to-back road set

BOX SCORE

Talk about guts.

This weekend was going to require some serious resolve and the Flyers showed just how different they might be in 2019-20.

Alain Vigneault's team swept a back-to-back road set in Toronto and Boston after picking up another heart-stopping victory, this one a 3-2 shootout decision Sunday night over the Bruins at TD Garden.

Joel Farabee scored the lone tally in the skills competition as the Flyers went to the shootout for the fifth time this season. In 2018-19, the Flyers went to the shootout only four times.

The Flyers (10-5-2) have a season-best four-game winning streak, six-game point streak and are 8-2-1 since Oct. 21. The team's 10 wins through 17 games marks the quickest it has reached double-digit victories in a season since 2011-12, when the Flyers started 10-4-3 and last won a playoff series.

Prior to the loss, the Bruins (11-3-3) were scoring 4.13 goals per game at home and had won seven of their first eight games at TD Garden.

• This was a statement weekend for the Flyers. The Maple Leafs can absolutely blitz teams at home and the Bruins are as scary as any NHL club right now.

For the Flyers to grab early leads, hold off late surges and win two games after regulation on the road like that says a lot.

Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Kevin Hayes went scoreless over the weekend and the Flyers still pulled off the back-to-back wins. That's a major positive.

• Carter Hart was spectacular in turning away Boston late in the third period, when the Bruins were furiously pushing. Boston, with the NHL's best power play, went on the man advantage with 3:20 left but Hart kept it at bay. He also denied David Pastrnak on a penalty shot. Hart stayed focus despite the Bruins erasing the Flyers' 2-0 lead in the final stanza.

The 21-year-old is 3-0-0 in three career games against Boston. He is also 4-0-0 with 104 saves on 112 shots over his last four starts. It's safe to say the kid has his confidence back.

• Pastrnak had not gone scoreless in a home game this season, with 17 points in eight contests at TD Garden.

The Flyers held him scoreless.

• Ever since the season opener in Prague, Czech Republic, there has been no slowing down Travis Konecny.

The 22-year-old dynamo delivered his fourth multi-point game with a goal and an assist. With eight goals and 11 assists, Konecny has more points than Mark Scheifele, Artemi Panarin, Sidney Crosby, Johnny Gaudreau, Mitchell Marner and Patrice Bergeron.

Konecny has scored in 14 of the Flyers' 17 games. It's the most consistent we've seen him as a pro (see story).

 

• Good stuff from the Flyers in the discipline department. 

The Bruins entered with 12 man advantage goals at home, more than what 17 NHL teams had overall on the power play. The Flyers needed to stay out of the penalty box in Boston and, for the most part, they did, committing just two penalties. Over their last three games, the Flyers have allowed the opposition only five power play opportunities.

That's one way to improve your penalty kill — not use it as much.

• The Flyers are starting to jump on teams in the first 20 minutes, which is refreshing considering all the sluggish starts to games that plagued the team in recent years past.

Last season, the Flyers were forced to constantly play from behind. They allowed the NHL's second-most first-period goals (94) and finished with a minus-31 goal differential during the opening stanza.

Over their last four games, the Flyers have outscored the opposition 6-0 in the first period. Setting the tone has helped the Flyers dictate pace and play Vigneault's style.

• Sean Couturier had two assists and was a plus-2 in a tough matchup.

• Philippe Myers has put up three goals in the last three games — all in the first period. His mobility and offense from the blue line have been fun to watch. He also saved a goal in the third period.

What a superb start for the 22-year-old, who has three goals, four points and a plus-7 rating in six games since being called up from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

 

• The Flyers are off Monday and practice Tuesday in Voorhees, New Jersey, before welcoming the Capitals Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN).

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