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?
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.
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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