PHILADELPHIA — No talks of a thermos, this time. No grandstand speeches. The only constant is a pretty surprising goaltending decision before the Philadelphia Flyers play an outdoor game.
Carter Hart has been pulled from his last two starts and he won’t get the next one. Veteran Brian Elliott will be between the pipes when the Flyers take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stadium Series on Saturday.
“I really started thinking about it after Moose went in for Carter after the game Thursday (in Montreal),” interim coach Scott Gordon said. “We talked as a staff this morning, talked about it this afternoon and really what it came down to was I looked at it from the perspective of, if this was just another game, if it wasn’t an outdoor game and I’m coaching the team and you pull your goalie twice in his last two starts, whether it was his fault or not we obviously have some stuff that we have to clean up, would you be playing him that third game in a row? It’s very easy to do it after one, which I did. I’ve done it twice now and a couple times down in (American Hockey League) Lehigh. Now it’s two games and now it’s a question of what’s the decision we’re going to make?
“I thought about it and we talked and I think the biggest thing is if this game was nay other time and I had been in that situation it would have been a no-brainer. We would have gone with whoever the other goalie was. So the hard part, and I said this to Carter, if I had to go with — no pun intended — my heart, 100 percent the easy decision is to go with Carter. I think the world of him. I’ve been so impressed with how he’s been able to come up here and play and it really bothered me to have to make the final decision as to not playing him. Two weeks ago it was looking like that was gonna be the decision.”
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The last time this happened, Ilya Bryzgalov went off-script. He was less than pleased that Sergei Bobrovsky was starting the 2012 Winter Classic against the New York Rangers and started talking about drinking hot tea on the bench.
Hart, at the ripe age of 20, is a lot more mature than that. He was 13 when all that went down the last time the Flyers hosted an outdoor game.
“Oh yeah, the thermos,” Hart said, cracking a rare smile after his clear disappointment in talking about how he won’t start Saturday’s Stadium Series.
Gordon was clearly conflicted in making the call. Hart was clearly disappointed, but handled it like a pro.
“For sure you want to play,” Hart said. “You want to play every game and right now, even though it’s an outdoor game it’s a crucial two points for us. The last two games I haven’t been at my best and Brian’s done a good job coming in in relief both times. It is what it is. You can’t control that. What you can control is how you respond to it and it’s disappointing, but you’ve got to approach it the right way. You can’t let it set you back.”
“I looked at this game against Pittsburgh, we factor Moose into the equation,” Gordon said. “He goes in for Carter for the last two games and plays and he plays well. As I said to Carter, I said, ‘Right now this is gonna hurt and you’re not gonna play. I know you’re gonna play a lot of games in the NHL and you’re probably gonna have a few of these outdoor games, but the biggest thing is this is our biggest game of the year and as far as a lineup decision, what’s best for the team?’ In my heart, it’s easy to choose Carter but from the standpoint of what’s right for the team I thought Moose was the right decision.”