Florida Panthers

Flyers 'just collapsed' against Panthers, and Carter Hart couldn't do anything to stop it

Flyers 'just collapsed' against Panthers, and Carter Hart couldn't do anything to stop it

SUNRISE, Fla. — Earlier this month, it was the crusher in Calgary.

Now, just two and a half weeks later, we have the fiasco in Florida.

Good teams simply don’t wilt like the Flyers have time and time again. The Panthers, playing on back-to-back nights, got an unthinkable game-winning goal Saturday from Jonathan Huberdeau with 1:06 remaining in regulation to beat the Flyers, 2-1 (see observations).

It wasn’t so much what they did, but rather how they did it — on a set breakout from behind their own net. 

“When that happens," interim head coach Scott Gordon said, "you have to get into your routes and get into position, and they just took off.”

Somewhat confusing prior to the breakout was the positioning of the Flyers' personnel. Their best defensive forward and best defender on the ice, Sean Couturier, was stationed just in front of the Panthers' crease, roughly 180 feet away from his own net. 

You would think Couturier would have been better served near the blue line to cover any odd-man rush against the Panthers' most dangerous line. Once Jakub Voracek failed in his attempt to pick off the pass between the Panthers' blue line and the red line, you could sense the doom. 

“As soon as they fired it up the boards, they took off,” Gordon said. “I know we were in between, and I think Jake tried to pick it off on the wall and it got by him, and that’s how it happened. It’s a bit of a hope play by them. We don’t come up with it and it’s a 3-on-2 and maybe a potential icing.”

With Aleksander Barkov and Huberdeau on the ice, it’s also a potential backbreaker. Voracek couldn’t recover in time, Couturier was too far away from his own net and Wayne Simmonds was still at the Panthers' blue line when the puck entered the Flyers' zone. 

Radko Gudas did a good job of riding the Panthers' lightning-quick winger Evgenii Dadonov out of the play, but once he left the puck for Barkov, it was tic-tac-toe — game over.

“I think we shot ourselves in the foot there. We had the game under our control there,” Gudas said. “We just collapsed. We just have to pay more attention to the details. A controlled breakout ends up in our net, that’s unacceptable especially with a minute left in the game.”

It felt like that Flames game all over again when the Flyers executed a series of breakdowns that led to Sean Monahan’s goal with seven seconds remaining, and once again, it was another outstanding effort from the goaltender that went wasted.

This may be Carter Hart’s biggest psychological challenge if he stays in Philadelphia for the remainder of this season.

“I felt confident in the net,” Hart said. “I saw the guy up top, Barkov, and then I saw Huberdeau on the back door as well. I think he just got it up over me on the glove side. Obviously, I’ll look at things tomorrow and review the game. I think I just need to bear down a little bit harder.”

I’m not sure how Hart bears down any harder than the effort he provided his teammates, stopping 34 shots and pitching a shutout through the first 53 minutes, but therein lies the concern for a 20-year-old rookie who deserved a much better fate.

Hart wants to shoulder the blame and take responsibility. On this team, that’s a tremendous load to carry. 

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Panthers 2, Flyers 1: A stumble before the finish line

Panthers 2, Flyers 1: A stumble before the finish line


SUNRISE, Fla. — Apparently, the Flyers haven’t rid themselves of those last-minute collapses.

The Panthers' Jonathan Huberdeau scored the game-winning goal Saturday night with 1:06 remaining in regulation as the Flyers fell, 2-1.

How well did Carter Hart perform in his first NHL start on the road and how did Jordan Weal perform filling in for Nolan Patrick?  

Here are my observations from the BB&T Center:

• The game-winning goal should really bother Scott Gordon, considering it was a breakout play from behind the Panthers net and the Flyers had time to set up their defense. The Panthers made it look way too easy as Radko Gudas did a solid job of riding Dadonov out of the play, but once again, the defense had no help from the Flyers' forwards.

• I felt if the Flyers could survive the first period, they would have a definite advantage in the latter half of the game with the Panthers playing on back-to-back nights. However, I thought Florida had the territorial advantage in the second period. It was still encouraging to see the Flyers hold the Panthers off the board through two periods with the help of their goaltending. Through two periods, Florida had 24 scoring chances. Simply way too many.

• You could sense from the opening ten minutes that Hart was locked in tracking the puck and rarely appeared to be off his angle. Secondly, Hart’s rebound control was outstanding. The Panthers had some wide open looks, but shot wide just about every time or whiffed on their shots.  

• Having played sparingly since Nov. 27, there was a lot to like about Jordan Weal’s game, especially in the opening period. He set up Shayne Gostisbehere’s goal by driving his man hard to the net, opening up a shooting lane. One his second shift, he wisely took a shot down low to create a rebound chance and was hard on pucks. All good signs in the offensive zone. He had a high-quality scoring chance late in the second period coming down the slot.  

Here’s Gostisbehere with his second goal in his last six games. I wonder if taking him off that top pairing has helped him relax and not be overburdened trying to shut down the other team’s top players paired with Ivan Provorov.

• The Flyers once again killed a 5-on-3 with Hart in net. They only had to dig in for 40 seconds as opposed to a full two minutes last week against the Predators. I don’t think the Flyers' PK was particularly stellar, it was more a product of the Panthers (especially Mike Hoffman), not coming within a country mile of hitting the net.

• The Flyers were playing with fire against the NHL’s second-ranked power play, and they needed to play cleanly in the final ten minutes. James van Riemsdyk's penalty was a sloppy penalty and one the refs were looking for after calling Huberdeau for holding 90 seconds earlier. There was nothing Hart could do on Hoffman’s goal.

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Flyers at Panthers: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Panthers: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

The Flyers are hoping the sun finally shines on them in Sunrise.

The hasn’t had much success in South Florida, dropping their last two and five of their last six.

This will be the third and final meeting between the Flyers (15-16-5) and the Panthers (15-15-6).

Let's take a look at tonight's essentials.

• When: 7:00 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
• Where: BB&T Center
• Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia 
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• After winning his first two NHL games, Carter Hart will make his first NHL start on the road. In his three starts, Hart has a 2-1-0 record with a 2.36 GAA and a .904 save percentage.

“I think I just have to prepare the same," Hart said. "I don’t want to go anywhere. I want to stay here. Obviously, that’s my goal and I’m going to do everything I can to stay here.” 

On the other side, the Panthers are expected to start James Reimer, who would be the third different Panthers goaltender the Flyers have faced this season. Reimer has allowed at least three goals in six of his past seven starts with a 3-2-2 record.

• The Flyers' 2-1 loss to the Panthers back on Nov. 13 killed a lot of momentum the team had built up earlier in the season. Prior to that game, the Flyers were 9-7-1, with a .560 winning percentage. Since then, the Flyers are 6-9-4, a .420 winning percentage. 

The Flyers will face the NHL’s top two power plays in back-to-back games. The Panthers edged ahead of the Winnipeg Jets at 28.3 percent after finishing 1-for-3 on the PP against the Montreal Canadiens. Florida has a power play goal in six straight games and they’re 7-for-18 (39 percent) during that stretch. 

• There must not be very many Panthers fans working in the NHL’s scheduling department. Along with the Carolina Hurricanes, the Panthers have 17 back-to-backs on their schedule — most in the NHL. However, it’s had little effect on them so far. Florida has yet to lose in regulation on the second game of a back-to-back, with a 4-0-3 record.

• Jordan Weal will step into Nolan Patrick’s role as the team’s third line center. Weal comes into this game as the Flyers' best player on face-offs, winning 60 percent of his draws. Weal will be playing alongside Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl, who has a goal in two straight games.

In his time with the Phantoms during the 2016-17 season, Weal played 43 games under Scott Gordon. 

“He keeps everyone accountable, he keeps everyone in line and that’s all you can ask for from a coach," Weal said of Gordon. "I think that’s why we had so much success down there. No one was going away from the team. Everyone was sticking to what we do best, and I think that’s what he brings to the table as a coach, and to be familiar with that is definitely nice.” 

• Nolan Patrick is expected to miss the remainder of the road trip as he works his way back from an upper-body injury he sustained in Thursday’s game against the Lightning. However, Patrick took part in Saturday morning’s optional skate.

• Interestingly, the Panthers are one of two teams in the league — the Buffalo Sabres being the other — without a shorthanded goal this season, despite having one of the most effective penalty killers in the league. Last season, Aleksander Barkov led the NHL with five shorthanded goals.

Once again, Barkov is the most relied upon forward in the league, as he leads all NHL forwards in TOI. He's averaging 23:02, a full minute more than what he averaged last season. Friday night against the Canadiens, Barkov logged 25:09, the most he’s played in a regulation game this season. 

Projected lineup

James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Travis Konecny
Wayne Simmonds-Sean Couturier-Jake Voracek
Scott Laughton-Jordan Weal-Michael Raffl
Oskar Lindblom-Phil Varone-Dale Weise

Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim
Andrew MacDonald-Radko Gudas
Robert Hägg-Shayne Gostisbehere

Carter Hart
Michal Neuvirth

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