It was an entertaining night this past Friday, as the Flyers began their 2021-’22 season against the Canucks. Whether it was the energy from the fans or Scott Hartnell’s drum-banging, the Flyers got off to a dominating start.
With a 1-0 lead to begin the second period, this momentum came crashing to a halt. Vancouver scored three goals in a span of seven minutes, taking a 3-1 lead midway through the period.
Cam Atkinson cut the deficit to one goal, scoring his first regular season goal in orange and black. The Flyers had the crowd back into it.
Then, a potential backbreaker of a goal was conceded with under five minutes remaining. This four-goal period from the Canucks placed the spotlight on Carter Hart, and his performance became the main talking point postgame.
This is exactly the game Hart did not need to have to start the season. I mentioned previously that if Hart could have a solid showing, he could ease some doubts regarding his play last year. Considering the Flyers’ goalie situation before Hart, fan attitude towards goalies in Philly can shift negatively pretty quickly. This game seems to have some fans worried already about the still-young netminder.
Let’s breakdown the goals:
Vancouver’s first goal of the night was just a straightforward snipe by Vasily Podkolzin. You could say that Hart may have gone down a little too early, but most goalies are getting beat on that shot. Podkolzin was able to walk into the slot untouched due to Keith Yandle being caught out of position.
As pointed out on the broadcast, Yandle went to pinch the middle of the ice. He then could not recover in time to affect the shot attempt.
The Canucks’ second goal was more on the fluky side. Elias Pettersson’s shot was deflected, which ricocheted off the boards, then off the back of Hart’s pad into the net. It appears to me that Hart was just not prepared for the speed of the puck coming off the boards. Can’t blame Hart too much here.
This is probably where most fans start to question Hart, which may or may not be fair. On a Canucks powerplay, J.T. Miller makes a great pass to Alex Chiasson in front. He is initially robbed by Hart, but the puck ends up in the net.
He did not have sight of the puck after the first save as the puck bounced off Chiasson’s skate. As that was happening, Hart unfortunately pulled his pad off the post. It is not easy trying to find the puck in a scramble like that, especially with a big power forward like Chiasson making things difficult.
If there was one goal conceded that really had folks worried last night, it was this one. Pettersson just throws an off angle shot on net, which Hart had an extremely tough time with. Again, he was not sure where the puck was, and Miller jammed in the loose rebound.
In that time and situation, that goal just cannot happen. Keith Jones and Jim Jackson were even discussing how shooting from off angles seemed to be a Vancouver gameplan. Those kinds of shots have a potential to be tricky, and with tape from this game, it would not be surprising if he faces a lot of shots like that over the next few games.
In the big picture, this is still the first game. There is no need to panic or worry this early on. Hart finished the game relatively strongly, including a very good OT period. He had 35 saves on 39 shots, and should be playing behind a fully healthy defensive core tomorrow night.
I would be more worried about the look of the penalty kill Friday night than Hart’s play.