Are the Flyers a different team in front of Carter Hart than Brian Elliott?

Surely it can’t be true. How can the Flyers be a different team in front of one goalie compared to the other? Same forwards, same defense, there’s no way, right? While it’s hard to imagine the team is any different depending on who’s in net for some, it’s somewhat of a reality. It’s not entirely night-and-day between the two, but there’s a worrying trend that speaks to the contrast in how the team performs in front of each goalie.

Put aside Carter Hart’s 6-4-3 record and Brian Elliott’s 5-1-0 record. Nevermind Elliott’s .931 save percentage compared to Hart’s .893. Don’t worry about Hart’s 3.49 goals against average while Elliott’s is 2.03. Those are just stats. It’s time to take a look at some numbers that signify how the team in front of them plays. It’s time to ask yourself if the Flyers are a different team in front of each goalie.

Shot Differential

GamesShot DifferentialShot Differential Average
Carter Hart13-117-9
Brian Elliott6+17+2.83

If we’re going to pinpoint why this discussion could have taken on water, this is where we start. Shot differential is where we see the biggest discrepancy between Hart and Elliott. Hart has started in seven more games than Elliott, but has seen 117 more shots than the Flyers have put up in those games. While Elliott’s only started in six games, the Flyers are averaging almost three more shots on net than their opposition in those games.

Hart has had to defend 430 shots while the Flyers put up 313 in those starts. Factor in the 12.54 shots per game that the Flyers are blocking during a Carter Hart start and you’re looking at a ridiculous shot differential, more so than what it already is. Brian Elliott on the other hand has only defended against 175 shots while the Flyers put up 192 in his starts. The Flyers in front of him are averaging 11 blocked shots per game when Elliott is minding the net as well. Altogether it still pales in comparison to the ridiculous shot differential Hart is facing this season.

Goal Differential

Goals ForGoals For/GameGoals AgainstGoals Against/GameGoal Differential
Carter Hart433.31483.69-5
Brian Elliott203.33111.83+9

This one is a little less eye-popping than the shot differential, but there’s a definite contrast in performances. Yes, Carter Hart has started over twice as many games as Brian Elliott. Yes, the Flyers have virtually given each netminder the same offensive support. However, Elliott is allowing half the goals against that Carter Hart is. Could it be attributed to the vast difference in shots against as mentioned in the paragraph above?

Regardless, it’s a bit alarming that the Flyers are allowing twice as many goals when their franchise goaltender is in net. A lot can be attributed to Elliott’s solid play in net, sure. There’s no two ways around how well Elliott has been so far this season. Also consider that four of the five games against the Bruins saw Carter Hart get the nod. In those four games, Hart gave up a combined 22 goals.

Some Tidbits

Tying in with the shot differential, Carter Hart is facing about 33 shots per game on average. On the flipside, the Flyers are putting up only 24 shots per game in those same tilts. With Brian Elliott in net, the Flyers average 32 shots on net while giving up slightly over 29 per game. Hart’s average differential per game is a minus-nine while Elliott’s is a plus-three.

In Elliott’s six starts, the Flyers have surpassed the 30-shot mark in four of those games. In Hart’s 13 starts, the Flyers have only reached that same mark twice, and it’s the two most recent games. Thrice have the Flyers put up 17 shots, and they were in three consecutive Carter Hart starts. They put up 19 shots during the Lake Tahoe game against Boston. Roughly 38% of the games Carter Hart has started show the Flyers putting up 20 shots or less. That simply won’t cut it.

The Flyers lowest shot output while Elliott is in net is the average for Carter Hart. The alarm should have been raised by now and this problem should have either been addressed or fixed. The Flyers cannot keep leaving Carter Hart out to dry like it seems they may be doing.

Confidence

Nevermind that the stats in the first tweet came from before the 5-2 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Oilers Steve here has an interesting stance on what’s happening. Could it be that the Flyers are more confident in Carter Hart, so they play more loose in front of him than Elliott? The numbers suggest that could be the case. If it in fact is, then this problem is more of a mindset than happenstance, and that’s not a good thing.

It’s great to have confidence in your young goaltender. It’s not great to use that as an excuse to play a little more loosely when he’s in net. No matter the netminder, the players in front of him shouldn’t play any more tight or loose than they would play in front of the other. That just isn’t how hockey works.


As alarming as it may seem, it’s common knowledge that Carter Hart has the ability to rebound. Instilling even more confidence is the fact that Brian Elliott is playing some fantastic hockey. The Flyers have the benefit of a backup goalie who is capable of carrying the team while the starter is figuring things out. It may not be the ideal situation for a shortened 56-game season, but there are much worse scenarios.

Photo Credit – Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

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