It’s that time of year again, folks! The Phantoms’ season is over and the dust has started to settle, which means it’s time to dig into the performances and give out some grades. Because who doesn’t love grades, right?
We’re going to be breaking these up by position, and we’re also limiting our grade distribution to players who played 10 or more games with the Phantoms, just so we have a large enough sample to put together some actual nuanced thoughts. 10 games is still a little small, but it’s a start. Anyway. Let’s talk about the goalies.
Carter Hart. 18 GP, 9-6-2-1 record, .902 SV%
Does it feel a little weird to be going all the way back and talking about Hart as a Phantom even though he’s established himself as being a Flyer, a more than competent goalie at the NHL level. Yes. He hasn’t even been a Phantom full time since the middle of December (outside of the one game on January 26, during the Flyers’ All Star Break/bye-week situation)… Yes, I see where you’re going with this. Old news, I get it. So we’ll be brief here.
He wasn’t stellar with the Phantoms, in fact he went from not super good to just fine in his time with the team, but for just himself, he did what he needed to. His first 10 or so game saw him decidedly looking like he was going through an adjustment period, getting used to the speed of the game at the AHL level, learning how to keep his rebounds more under control, and figuring out which little cheats he could get away with in Juniors weren’t going to work anymore. Once he got past those, he started to pull things together (he posted above a .900 save percentage in six of his last eight games with the Phantoms, and that’s something!). He was fine for the team, so that’s where the lower grade comes in. We can’t really grant points for knowing that this was the building he needed to do to be very good for the Flyers, unfortunately. That’s just for us to hold onto and be happy about. Good talk.
Alex Lyon. 39 GP, 19-17-3-1 record, .916 SV%
We gave Lyon an A- in our mid-season report cards when he had a higher save percentage, no this is not a clerical error. This is an area where context is really important to take into account. Technically speaking, we don’t really have any complaints about Lyon’s game. He’s been playing in the AHL long enough that we aren’t seeing him need to make any big adjustments to his game like a rookie like Hart might have to, so we more or less know what we’re going to get from him. He’s steady, calm, positionally sound, everything could ask for. All the boxes are checked. He’s also a big reason—if not the reason why the Phantoms were able to string together some wins towards the end of the season. They struggled throughout the whole of the season to break the puck out of their own end but it got worse through the back half, which means the Phantoms were bleeding a lot of shots during their final stretch. So Lyon had his work cut out for him (he had three 40+ save wins in his final seven starts of the season), and all of that considered, Lyon had more than a respectable season. It was enough to keep his team in the playoff mix just about until the end, while also getting him almost into the top 10 in save percentage among all goalies in the AHL (he’s 11th! So close!). No complaints here.
Mike McKenna. 10 GP, 5-4 record, .896 SV%
McKenna just made our 10 game cutoff! One of those games was actually just one relief period, but we’re not going to get too picky about that one. McKenna was fine enough during his brief time with the Phantoms. He let in a couple of ugly goals, but he also had some games where he held steady for them while the team in front got their bearings (like in the last game of the season, they fell behind early, but everyone buckled down and they won it in a shootout). McKenna came in and it was pretty clear that he was the backup, not half of an even tandem, so the expectations are a little different. And so too does it change when you’re looking at a 36 year old goalie who might be in his last season.
What are we getting at, here? He was fine for a backup in a limited showing. Just fine. (We do still have to dock some points for a sub-.900 save percentage. Sorry, pal.)
All stats via theAHL.com