The goaltending situation for the Philadelphia Flyers has quickly turned into an unmitigated disaster, although unfortunately for the Flyers fan base that is something they have become all too familiar with in recent years.
The Flyers have used a whopping 5 goaltenders already this season and unsurprisingly they have been entirely unable to get consistent performances out of any of them. In fact when combined their goaltenders have the worst save percentage of any team in the entire National Hockey League and with so many veterans going down to injury over and over again there are real questions about what the Flyers should do moving forward.
Earlier this week NHL insider Frank Seravalli of TSN went off on Flyers' management, dolling out some harsh criticism for the decision to come into the season once again relying upon Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth.
"Flyers now on their 5th goalie of the season in game No. 23,"said Seravalli. "Team save percentage is by far the league-worst at .877 including tonight. That’s almost 3 goals against every 20 shots. Impossible to win with that. Utterly unacceptable - and you can’t say it snuck up on management."
"Let’s put it another way: The Flyers have allowed 4 or more goals in 12 of 23 games. No chance to win when you need to score 5 every other night. A team poised to “take a step forward” needed a bridge to Carter Hart. Instead, Elliott + Neuvirth = Malpractice. No hindsight there."
There is one potential solution on the horizon and that is goaltending prospect Carter Hart, although Hart himself has struggled quite badly this season. Through 12 games in the American Hockey League Hart has a 3.61 goals against average and a 0.884 save percentage, numbers that reflect the kind of poor performance the Flyers have received from their goalies at the NHL level. It has to be said though that there must be a frustration factor for Hart at this point who was hoping to get a shot at the NHL this year, but was once again denied after training camp with the Flyers. The situation must be that much more frustrating when he sees the Flyers' goaltending at the NHL level falter season after season.
Hart recently spoke to ESPN's Emily Kaplan regarding his NHL future and there was no question that he wants to get to the NHL, and wants to do it right now.
"I don't really want to follow any path that they have for me, I just want to get to the NHL as fast I can," Hart said as per Kaplan. "I appreciate the fans and love the city of Philly, I want to be there as soon as I can. I don't care what path it is, I want it to be the quickest path possible."
There is a segment of the Flyers' fan base that very much agrees with him, and Hart expressed how frustrating it was for him to go back to the AHL following a successful training camp.
"I was really disappointed to be sent down after training camp," Hart said. "I thought I had a really good camp. Coming down [to the AHL], with some familiar faces that I've gotten to know over the past few years, many guys have been through it before. Obviously, I want to make the Flyers as soon as I can, but at the same time, I have to worry about where I'm at -- that's with the Phantoms -- and work hard here and things will come."
He certainly has not done himself with his performance in the AHL this season, but at this stage the Flyers may have to finally give him his shot anyways given their laundry list of injuries in goal this season.