Carter Hart made —and won— his NHL debut on Tuesday night, making 20 saves on 22 shots in the process at just 20 years old. That got us to thinking about how the NHL debuts of other notable goalies went for the Flyers, who have quite the storied history when it comes to men between the pipes.
Maxime Ouellet (10/07/00): 18 saves on 21 shots (.857 Sv%), 3.01 GAA, 4-1 loss to Bruins
While Carter Hart was the second-youngest Flyers goalie to ever start a game, the first is also the first on our list: Maxime Ouellet.
We went with the super prospect Ouellet’s first NHL start since his debut was 15 minutes of relief work a few nights earlier. In his debut Ouelett stopped all six shots he faced in relief of Brian Boucher and was —of course— pegged as the Flyers’ next great goaltender. But the 19-year old was returned to the QMJHL after making just two appearances, and starting one game with the Flyers.
Ouellet was later traded as part of the Flyers’ package to acquire Adam Oates from the Capitals in a 2002 blockbuster. He played a total of 12 games in his NHL career, though one of them was a shutout.
Sergei Bobrovsky (10/07/10): 29 saves on 31 shots (.935 Sv%), 2.00 GAA, 3-2 win over Pens
Who could forget Bobrovsky’s first game for the Flyers? Like a fairytale the undrafted (!!) rookie got the nod from then-coach Peter Laviolette on opening night in Pittsburgh and christened the Penguins’ brand-spanking new arena, Consol Energy Center, with a sparkling performance to earn his first NHL win in his debut.
It was a fun ride with Bob at the helm that year, but the Bruins avenged the Flyers’ miraculous comeback from 3-0 down in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and started the beginning of the end for the Bobrovsky era in Philadelphia.
With Bobrovsky’s name swirling in the winds as a pending free agent this coming summer, we’d like to take the time to remember the good times with Bob —particularly beating the Penguins in that fashion— and hope that Carter Hart’s presence keeps Chuck Fletcher from throwing lots of money and years at Bob this summer.
Bernie Parent (10/11/67): 33 saves on 38 shots (.868 Sv%), 5.00 GAA, 5-1 loss to CA Seals
As we all know there are two stints in Bernie Parent’s Flyers career, and the second of which was madly successful for both player and organization while the first not so much. His Flyers debut did not go well, as you can see, though the rest of Parent’s Flyers career would make up for the turbulence early on. Thankfully there is not much video left of that fateful day against the Golden Seals.
After a stint in Toronto with the Maple Leafs, Parent returned to the Flyers in 1973 and posted back-to-back dominant seasons as the Flyers hoisted the Stanley Cup in both years with Parent sweeping the Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe as well. He is widely regarded as the best goalie to wear the pad in the Flyers’ history. though is debut was quite bad.
Pelle Lindbergh (11/1/81): 35 saves on 41 shots (.853 Sv%), 6.00 GAA, 6-2 loss to Buffalo
Like Parent, Pelle’s Flyers debut was one to forget with the diminutive Swedish netminder allowing six to the Sabres first NHL start. His second start wasn’t much better either, allowing seven goals to the Penguins his next time out as a rookie. Lindbergh didn’t get much action the rest of the year with more veteran goalies Pete Peeters and Rick St. Croix sharing a bulk of the load.
But Pelle returned a different goalie in 1982-83, and entrenched himself as the Flyers’ starter before leading them back to the Stanley Cup in 1985 with three playoff shutouts. Though the Flyers fell to Wayne Gretzky’s Oilers machine, Lindbergh won the Vezina and was seen as the heir apparent to Bernie Parent in net. Sadly that wouldn’t be the case as Lindbergh was killed in an auto accident the following November, his No. 31 has never been worn again by any Flyer.
Ron Hextall (10/9/86): 22 saves on 23 shots (.957 Sv%), 1.00 GAA, 2-1 win over Oilers
Hextall’s Flyers debut nearly mirrored his entire rookie season, one that saw his set a career high in wins and included a Conny Smythe Trophy. Though he would gladly trade that season opening win over the Oilers for a win in game seven of the Stanley Cup final, Hextall’s rookie season was wildly successful.
Just a sixth-round draft pick, Hextall enjoyed a decorated Flyers career on the ice after his initial debut and then later as general manager of the club though he was relieved of his duties at that post mere weeks ago.
Ilya Bryzgalov (10/6/11): 22 saves on 23 shots (.957 Sv%), 1.00 GAA, 2-1 win over Bruins
The Flyers’ prized acquisition of the 2011 offseason had a stellar debut in the Orange and Black, leading the Flyers to an opening night win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins in Boston.
Bryz was brought in as then-owner Ed Snider was desperate to end the Flyers’ recent futility in goal and backed up the massive, nine-year, nearly $42 million contract he signed in his first start. The always colorful Bryz was outstanding as he held up first period goals by Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek for the final 40 minutes as the Bruins piled up chance after chance. He then shutout the Devils two nights later and the Flyers appeared to have solved the riddle in the crease.
But as has been the case with those before, the spotlight of the Flyers’ crease proved to be too much for Bryzgalov, who lasted just two seasons before being bought out by the club. His contract is set to come off the Flyers’ books in 2027 as a result of his buyout.
Roman Cechmanek (10/19/00): 28 saves on 31 shots (.903 Sv%), 2.76 GAA, Tie with Montreal
We had to put perhaps the two most enigmatic goalies in Flyers history back-to-back right? It feels only right to follow Bryz with Roman Cechmanek, who enjoyed a meteoric rise in 2000-01 with 35 wins and 10 shutouts as a 29-year-old rookie. We’ve included his first start with the Flyers as his first NHL appearance, like Ouelett, came in relief of Brian Boucher. Tough look for my guy Boosh, here.
That first start ended with a tie with the Canadiens as the NHL thought that ending a game without determining a winner was a fine idea. After five minutes of overtime, the Habs and the Flyers couldn’t settle things and Cechmanek skated off with the equivalent of a no-decision in baseball.
The goofy and stoic Cechmanek enjoyed three remarkable seasons in Philadelphia: winning 92 games while posting a .923 save percentage, a 1.96 goals-against average, and 20 shutouts in just 163 games. Despite sparkling regular seasons, lack of focus plagued Cechmanek in the playoffs and his outspoken nature got him in too much hot water and the club dealt him to Los Angeles for a second-round pick in May of 2003.
Though his tenure was short, Cechmanek certainly provided quite the laundry list of memories in the Flyers crease.