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Flyers 5, Canadiens 2: Carter “The Hitman” Hart

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Do you like that joke? I liked that joke. I hope no one else has made it or I will be so pissed.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know about the rest of you folks, but I look forward to the bye week like it’s a long-awaited vacation. I count down the days on my calendar. I stay up all night on Bye Week Eve, like a child too excited to sleep, listening for the sounds of hooves on the roof. I wake up too early on the first day of the Bye Week in an attempt to soak in all the awake hours I possibly can until I am forced unwillingly back into the nightmare that is my undying love and adoration for this awful, infuriating, and yet somehow deeply alluring team.

And what a goddamn send-off, right? How quintessentially Flyers. They looked awful, then they looked OK, and then somehow they looked good, but then awful again. Consistently, the stand-out performance was Carter Hart’s. Do you ever just sit back and let it sink in that the Flyers may actually have a starting goaltender? A permanent solution in net? Our very own franchise goalie? It really feels like a dream.

Despite underwhelming (to put it lightly) play in the first period, and also parts of the second and third, the Flyers managed to extend their win streak to three and dominate the Canadiens, if only purely on the scoreboard. The game was 5-2, but it was much closer than the score sounds, I assure you.

Anyway, back to what I was saying: Carter Hart. Carter Hart? Carter Hart! Carter: Hart. Carter “The Hitman” Hart. Oh that was good. That’s going to be the headline I think.

I know this will shock many of you, but I do not have a lot to say about this period.

This is surprising, as I am well-known to be incapable of being succinct. I am long-winded, sometimes embarrassingly so; I cannot answer a simple “how was your day?” question without launching into a tirade rivaling the length of the Iliad. I talk too much. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of being around me in person, you’ve often found yourself wondering when I will ever shut up, and did I know it doesn’t cost anything to be quiet?

Anyway, my point is thus: it’s not that nothing happened in this period, it’s that everything that did happen was wildly upsetting (save for one, and you can guess which one).

The Canadiens set the pace of the game early, as they are wont to do; the speed of this team has been one of the most obvious reasons as to why they’ve been so successful this season, for reasons beyond inexplicable to God, the natural order of the universe, et cetera. The Flyers were, predictably, unable to keep up. Excellent stuff.

For long stretches of the first period, it looked like the Canadiens were on a power play. The Flyers looked tired and slow in comparison, turning over the puck, making awkward misguided plays, and completely unable to look dangerous or generate offense in any way.

Fear not, however, for even though we deserved to be down by at least three goals when it was all said and done, there was one good boy that refused to let that happen. I am talking, of course, about our collective son boy, Carter Hart, the light of my life. In a period where the Flyers were severely and woefully outplayed, Hart was the one difference-maker. Not every save was highlight-reel worthy, but there were certainly several that stood out, and he is the absolute only reason as to why the entire team hasn’t died on the ice.

Throughout the entire twenty minutes, our beloved Philadelphia Flyers were held to just one shot on goal. That sounds nearly unbelievable, but does it really? What a night.

AFTER ONE: 0-0, shots 12-1 Canadiens

Within just a few minutes, the second period already looked better than the first, simply because the Flyers got another shot on goal. Wow! We can definitely get that puck to the net, just like other teams. It doesn’t usually go in, but sometimes we get it there, and that’s what’s really exciting.

On a begrudgingly “positive” note, the Flyers did look marginally better in this period. Even though they still looked clumsy with the puck and perhaps like they weren’t quite speaking the same language, they did appear to make more of an effort to match the pace of the Canadiens. Well, it did look like they were trying, so that’s something.

The first power play of the game was presented to us in the form of a tripping penalty on Jesperi Kotkaniemi (no relation to the Antti Niemi currently in net, though I’ll admit I was confused more than a few times). It was probably a pretty weak call, but it was also in defense of Scott Laughton, so I will accept it gladly.

Hey, it’s our good friend, the five-forward power play. It only struck gold once, but it’s still here, a Hail Mary attempt to spice up the remaining of this utterly wasted season. Or they’re trying to fix it. Whichever suits your narrative. Anyway, it was not successful, and they did not score, though I wasn’t disappointed because it just felt natural.

After “trading” (using the word quite lightly) scoring chances at either end of the ice, another penalty would get called, this time on our own Jake Voracek for *squinting* interference, I think! That’s probably deserved, a make-up call if I’ve ever seen one. The Canadiens went to the power play at 13:33.

Our penalty kill has been fairly good-not-bad lately. That feels a little weird to say, considering it’s been the most maligned part of our game all year if you don’t count the power play. That is one thing that Scott Gordon can probably be accredited with even in just a short time. Positives!

The Flyers held the Canadiens back on this penalty kill, which I imagine is insanely infuriating if you are either a Canadiens player or a fan. You should be able to steam-roll us (you completely are) and yet you are not (on the scoreboard). I’m sorry this happened to you. I’m sorry it happened to me, too.

That last paragraph was a perfect segue into the next one. With just three minutes left until the end of the period, Travis Konecny decided it was the perfect time to score a goal. Who am I, the most judgmental cynic alive, to judge?

Typically, when the Flyers try to change the narrative of a game, I feel compelled morally to go back and edit the dry, angry tone of what I’ve written previously. I will not be doing this tonight, because what the hell. They don’t deserve it. James van Riemsdyk deflected a shot from the point right to the back of the net, and inexplicably, we are up 2-0. Absolutely ridiculous, but the right people are scoring, so okay, fine, you win, universe.

AFTER TWO: 2-0 Flyers, shots 22-14 Canadiens

Exciting things started fairly early in the third, as a tripping call on Jonathan Drouin sent the Flyers back on the power play at 1:37. I am working on being concise in my writing (I absolutely am not) and so I will not waste too many words on this one: this five-forward power play really is not working, and it certainly didn’t do the trick here, either.

Remember what I said about the right people scoring? Nolan Patrick is basically exactly who I mean. A 2-on-1 with Patrick and Simmonds, spurned entirely from a nice pass from Laughton, found the mark. Simmonds made a pretty good choice to take his time with the pass, and it paid off. It made me happy. Watching our boy Nolan score good hockey goals is better than Lamictal, My Mood Stabilizer.

I’ll admit this: it is my fault that Montreal scored, because in my terrible brain, I thought the S word. I tried not to. I tried to push it from my consciousness as much as possible, but in the brief time it took for the thought to flit through my cerebrum, Max Domi got one past Hart at 7:36. I’m sorry. I am the only one to blame.

I let the shame wash over me for another couple minutes, before I was completely distracted by oh my God Nolan Patrick, who scored another goal at 9:31, can you goddamn believe it? That event was definitely not on me, unless you think it was a direct product of my complete faith and belief in Patrick, a son of mine. I will accept that also.

This goal, I believe, requires two camera angles.

The good times do not always roll, it appears. Brent Kulak got another one past Hart at 16:00, and I felt like a caged beast. Anyone who would dare to score on Carter Hart is surely a bad person. That’s my stance and no, I will not reconsider.

With less than three minutes left in the game, Montreal decided to empty their net. I am utterly thrilled by this. Not once during this game have I tried to calculate how this will affect Carter Hart’s save percentage.

This looked like it had the potential to be bad for us, but every so often, I am given a gift from some cosmic power greater than me, and today it was in the form of a goal by Michael Raffl right into the empty net. I will not be logging onto Twitter to see the “he can only score if the net is empty” takes. You are all my enemies. Michael Raffl, I love and respect you. Keep chasing mermaids, buddy.

It’s 5-2 Flyers with under a minute to go. Do you really think they’d mess that one up? (Don’t answer that.)

Hey, is this what fans of other teams feel when their good starting goalie steals a game for them? It’s such an unfamiliar emotion, but I feel this must be what it’s like.

AFTER THREE: 5-2 Flyers, shots 35-24 Canadiens