A Big Night that Should have Been Bigger – Thoughts after Flyers 2, Flames 1 (OT)

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve been sitting here torn for hours.

Part of me wants to talk about the thrilling Flyers 2-1 overtime victory over Calgary in what was a heck of a hockey game from start to finish.

Part of me wants to wax poetic about the beauty of the moment that was Kevin Hayes’ first goal of the season and his immediate tribute to the memory of his late brother, Jimmy.

Part of me wants to point out that, for all the Flyers’ offensive flaws at the moment, they are somehow still finding ways to win games, and that their resiliency shows even more by the fact that they are unbeaten after a loss this season.

Part of me wants to continue to heap praise on Carter Hart, who has been sensational this season – better than at any point in his young career – and suggest to you that what we’re seeing is sustained excellence – not just good play, but excellence in goal – that should have you excited about what he can do and how far it can take him and the Flyers.

And then there’s part of me that wants to go negative again and wants to continue a rant I started on Twitter last night about just how abysmally run the Flyers organization is these days, and how embarrassingly bad it was for the last 48 hours for Flyers alumni, who were treated as if they don’t matter one iota by the powers that be.

It’s gotten to the point where someone has to hold this organization accountable for their continued missteps and failings that have put a major strain on the relationship between the fans of this city and its hockey team.

And before I get into the subjects mentioned above, it should be pointed out clearly, that my forthcoming complaints are not targeted at the people on the hockey operations side. There are two separate departments here -the people who run the product on the ice and the people who run the product off it.

Both sides deserve credit at times, and get it when it’s deserved. And both sides deserve criticism at times, and get it when deserved. In this instance, the product on the ice has been pretty good so far this season. The product off it has been piss poor – and that descriptor is wholly intentional, and not “yellow” journalism as you will see a little later in this post.

But first…

Carter Hart is a top 5 goalie

Yes, it’s still November. Yes, he’s only played 10 games this season. Yes, I’m usually the guy telling you to pump the brakes on your excitement.

But, there’s something different about these 10 games. There’s something different about the way Hart has played. Yes, his numbers are excellent, but it’s more than that.

Let’s start with the numbers. Hart’s goals against average is 2.19. That’s seventh in the NHL among goalies who have started at least eight games (there are 30 of them).

His save percentage is .935. That’s tied for fifth in the same group.

 

In the 10 games Hart has played, the teams he has played against have a combined record of 77-57-22, which is a points percentage of .635. Six of those 10 games have come against teams ranked currently in the top six in total points in the NHL (Florida, Edmonton, Calgary twice, Toronto and Carolina).

In those six games, Hart is 3-3-0, which is decent but unspectacular, but what should jump out at you is that those teams have a combined +90 goal differential and Hart allowed just 13 goals against them total in the six games.

So, it’s not like Hart is just beating up on weaker opposition like the four sub-.500 teams he’s played (Vancouver, Seattle, Arizona and Pittsburgh, in which he is 2-0-2 and allowed eight goals). He has been consistent against all competition.

And, if you go back through the 21 goals in which he’s allowed, you can argue that maybe one was a bad goal.

When goalies are going this well – consistently – and aren’t just on a hot streak because they are uber-competitive but are having success because they are mechanically and technically sound, this level of play tends to last over a longer term.

The Flyers have scored just 15 goals in their last nine games, and yet, are 5-3-1 in those games. Hart has started six of them and is 3-2-1 allowing just 10 goals in those six games.

This is more than just a good start folks. Be prepared to talk about how good his season is going for another five months at least.

This one’s for Jimmy

After all Kevin Hayes has been through in the past several months, seeing him score a goal – his first of the season – was a really good thing.

Seeing his celebration – pointing to the heavens and then pounding his heart – obviously dedicating that to his brother Jimmy, who died unexpectedly in August, was a tear-jerker. Having his close friend Cam Atkinson on the ice to be the first one to hug him, was serendipity.

Hearing Hayes say he was giving the puck to his nephew, Jimmy’s son Beau, and that it will be one of the most memorable goals of his life, cemented Hayes into the category of players this fan base will always root for. Forget his gaudy contract. Forget his aloofness at times last season. Forget the scoring droughts or anything else. Kevin Hayes now belongs to Philadelphia. That will never change:

Good for him, and good for the Flyers.

He also had an awkward collision with Calgary forward Elias Lindholm in the second period, and it left Hayes clutching his side and favoring his leg in the same area where he had abdominal surgery twice in the past six months.

Hayes admitted he was panicked, but said after getting checked out by the trainers, everything is all right.

It was a good break for someone who definitely deserved one.

I’m tired of the Johnny Hockey love

Look, I get it, Johnny Gaudreau grew up in South Jersey. He’s a talented hockey player. He had an assist on Calgary’s only goal in the game and he did get 10 shots on Carter Hart, which is a ton of shots for one game.

But he didn’t score. Hart bested him. And Gaudreau made a costly turnover on the final play of the game that led to the Flyers’ winning goal:

He was really busting it to get back to break up the 2-on-1 too, wasn’t he?

And somehow he was the third star of the game? Why? Because he’s from here and took a lot of shots?

Makes no sense to me. And the love affair some people have with him in this area is even more mind-numbing.

He’s a nice player. He does some good things. But he’s not a world beater by any means. And he cost his team a point against the Flyers. Love on that all you want, I guess.

Flyers hockey is uh…. number one?

The Flyers continue to market their team without marketing their team, if you know what I mean. There’s never anything promoting the players on the team. Getting to know their personalities. Getting to the heartbeat of that locker room.

Usually Gritty is foisted upon us instead, but the Flyers have a new marketing campaign with actors who are being depicted as fans of the Flyers.

And they decided to trot this one out last night:

So, it starts with a bro hug as two dudes walk into the Wells Fargo Center men’s room. One guy lets the other guy go ahead of him because he can only pee at his lucky urinal, which suddenly glows when the camera zooms in on it.

After panning past a bunch of dudes relieving themselves, including one guy melodically tapping the back of his own thighs (you can’t make this stuff up), our guy holding back the flow until his special urinal is available (it seemed it was open when it was glowing, no?) finally steps up to get rid of the overpriced Bud Light he downed earlier in the game.

The other dude, who is releasing a stream of epic proportions based on his time at the urinal (or is suffering from bashful bladder syndrome, in which case I feel his pain), happens to be one urinal over. And when the goal horn sounds he jumps out of surprise, (fortunately, not showering anyone with an unexpectedly golden gift), and looks over at our superstitious MV-Pee, who smiles back at him insisting that it works every time, even though he shouldn’t be smiling because if he would have waited, he could have gotten 50 cents off that Bud Light after the goal.

I mean, who the hell thought this was a good marketing idea? Who signed off on the financial spend to film this and put it out on the air? What’s the messaging here? Every time I unzip my jeans I should think about buying Flyers tickets? I should have a superstition that involves target practice on urinal cakes? When something is considered lucky, you’re supposed to rub it in hopes the luck spreads, what exactly should we be rubbing here?

And I’m sure there will be a segment of you who say that I’m an old man screaming at a cloud here, and that’s fine. Go ahead. You can find the bathroom humor entertaining. I still submit that this is a misguided effort to try and win over new hockey fans of a certain age by stooping to a level that is the lowest common denominator.

You want to win over new fans? Show them the players! Make them household names. Get the buzz going about the team. I sound like a broken record, but this is Philadelphia. The fifth largest city in America. This is a four sport town with a passionate, dedicated, long-standing fan base.

This isn’t trying to sell the Washington Nationals to transient residents of the nation’s capital. This isn’t minor league baseball in North Carolina. This is a pro town with pro fans who have bene part of the fabric for more than 50 years. Cater to them. For once. Please.

Don’t send them off to Urinetown instead.

The Flyers’ relationship with their alumni

You know, I’m just going to post my twitter rant here for you to re-read it and recommend that you listen to the next episode of Snow the Goalie, which will be due out tonight where Russ, Chris Therien and I will dive into this with far more detail and show just how little the Flyers brass care about the alumni and what they mean to the fans any more:

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