Flyers-Red Wings: Postgame Review
The night belonged to Carter Hart. From the mention of his name in the starting lineup until the final horn, he was the focus.
Hart delivered in his first game, making a few big saves late in the second and third periods to preserve a 3-2 Flyers win over the Detroit Red Wings.
In a time where there was a lot of newness and a clean slate for the franchise, the two newest members helped deliver a winning formula.
More in our Postgame Review.
- Carter Hart - It was his night from the start, but Hart lived up to the hype. He wasn't overly tested. He faced just one shot in the first 11 minutes of the game and eight in the first period. He faced six in the second period, and until the final 30 seconds had seen just four shots in the middle frame. In the third, he saw eight shots, but again, only two in the first 10 minutes.Sure, his game had some holes that the team will look to fix over time. He went down a little early on the first Detroit goal while the Flyers were on the penalty kill, trying to get a look through a screen. On the second goal, he was late in reacting and caught out of position on a quick play, allowing Jacob De La Rose to go five-hole.
But outside of that, his tracking was good, his positioning was sound and he handled himself like a pro. There's no question this kid has the chops to play on a regular basis at any level. It's just about seeing consistent performances and keeping his confidence up. It helped that the team in front of him didn't really allow an egregious chance off a bad turnover or something similar, where he had to bail out his teammates for a mistake.
Hart becomes the youngest goalie in Flyers history to win his NHL debut at 20 years, 127 days.
- Shayne Gostisbehere - In addition to his first goal in 16 games and his first multi-point game since Nov. 17, this was a game Shayne Gostisbehere needed to have. Gostisbehere has struggled this season and especially over the last few games. Any step forward was going to be a good one.Like a lot of his teammates, it looked like Gostisbehere had a new perspective on the season. When so much happens around you, like a GM being fired and a coach being fired, it changes things and can take time to adjust. For a change, it looked like Gostisbehere did what Scott Gordon wanted him to do -- get out of his own head and just play.
So Gostisbehere looked more like himself as a result. He looked more confident, more poised with the puck, better without the puck. That gives him a game to build on as the team continues down this stretch of games before the holidays.
- James van Riemsdyk - The same goes for James van Riemsdyk. The Flyers key free-agent signing from this offseason got on the board with a deflection goal that is his bread and butter. He picked up an assist to have multiple points as well. He had better chemistry with linemates Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny.JVR might be a little out of place here still. He's not as fast as his linemates and that's a glaring difference, but he looked more engaged in the play than before. Doing a few little things along board battles or in maintaining possession can go a long way.
- Finishing Strong - The Flyers also gave a great third-period effort. With a 3-1 lead that quickly became a 3-2 lead, the Flyers didn't stop trying to drive the offensive side of the game. They didn't sit back. They applied pressure, they generated chances and they tried to build on the lead.This is how you finish out a game. If the Flyers had started to sit back in this game, it's almost certain that a bounce or a rebound would have gone Detroit's way. Instead, the Flyers stayed active in the game, still trying to make things happen, still playing physical, still trying to drive play.
That has a lot to do with how Scott Gordon approaches the game. His teams play with energy. His teams have a better sense of structure. And sometimes, that system breaks down completely too, but it remains active and pursuing the puck throughout a game, and that's important to the Flyers if they want to stay active and close out games they need to win.
- Night of Firsts - Speaking of Scott Gordon, he gets his first win as the Flyers (interim) head coach.While most of the attention was on Carter Hart, Gordon had a little over 24 hours to learn he was now the head coach of this team and prepare to play a game. It was easily the team's best game in over a week. For many players, it was the best they had played in a month.
It's early. One game isn't going to define Carter Hart and it won't define Scott Gordon either. But this was a pretty good start to the audition for both.
By the Numbers
You have to give the Flyers credit for what they allowed to get through to Carter Hart in his first game. The front of the net was well protected and many shots came from the outside. It wasn't an overly difficult night for Hart, but those are games you will certainly take as a netminder.
Stat of the Game
How about Travis Sanheim's first game on the top pairing with Ivan Provorov? Sanheim played 21:06 in the game, was a plus-2, had three shots and four blocked shots in the win. He looked every bit the part of a top-pairing defenseman.