Boston’s Tuukka Rask. Washington’s Braden Holtby. Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Each veteran goaltender has an impressive resume. Each has won a Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie. Each is expected to face the Philadelphia Flyers in the three-game round-robin tournament.
Combined, the three goalies have 211 games of Stanley Cup playoff experience. That’s 211 more NHL playoff games than Flyers goalie Carter Hart.
But, hey, you have to start somewhere, and this seems as good a time as any for the blossoming Hart to get his playoff baptism and show he can play with the big boys.
The challenge is intriguing. The kid goalie trying to prove he is ready for the big stage vs. the goalies who have been there, done that.
First up, Rask. The Bruins’ star goalie will face the Flyers when the teams return Sunday afternoon in Toronto and play a real game for the first time in 143 days, or nearly five months.
Rask, 33, is a certified Flyers killer. He blanked them when the teams played their last game, a 2-0 Boston win at the Wells Fargo Center on March 10.
The Finland native was the NHL’s best goalie this season (2.12 goals-against average, .929 save percentage) and has gone 15-2-4 against them with a 1.94 GAA and .934 save percentage.
“He’s really athletic in there. Obviously, he has a ton of experience,” Flyers left winger James van Riemsdyk said. “I think defense-wise, they do a pretty good job on their team, too. Obviously, if you combine that with the really good goalie they have, it makes it tough to score goals.”
Getting traffic in front of Rask is imperative.
“Just try to be around the net, get your stick on pucks and second chances,” van Riemsdyk agreed.
“Most goalies you play against these days, they’re all insane,” right winger Travis Konecny said.
He meant insanely good.
“You’ve just got to get traffic to the net and get pucks to the right areas,” Konecny said. “I don’t think we’re going to focus too much on a specific goalie. You’ve just got to play the same way and wait for your opportunities.”
Based on the goalies they will face in the round-robin, the Flyers will have a difficult time advancing more than one spot in the seedings. They are seeded fourth and can only move up or stay in the same spot.
Then again, the Flyers have a high-quality goalie of their own, Hart, and a team that was the hottest in the NHL when the coronavirus stopped the season March 12.
This isn’t like past years when the Flyers were frequently on the wrong end of the goalie matchup in the postseason.
“It’ll be a pretty good challenge, but we’ve got two pretty good guys back there as well,” said Flyers forward Scott Laughton, referring to Hart and Brian Elliott. “I think goaltending is a huge factor, not only in the round-robin games but the playoffs as well. I think it’s going to be tough, but we have to continue to get better.
“Obviously all three goalies have been around a little bit and have won at different levels,” Laughton added about the round-robin matchups, “but you have to approach it the same and play the same way.”
While Rask and Vasilevskiy had outstanding seasons and are among the three Vezina finalists, Holtby (3.11 GAA, .897 save percentage) — who led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup in 2018 — had the worst season of his 10-year NHL career.
It should also be noted that since Feb. 10 — when Hart returned from a lower-abdominal injury that sidelined him for about a month — the Flyers’ young goalie was better than Rask through the end of the pandemic-shortened regular season. Better than Vasilevskiy and Holtby. Better than most goalies in the NHL.
Hart, who turns 22 on Aug. 13, was 9-2 with a .1.93 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in that span, and no NHL goalie had more wins in the last month of the season.
Yes, it’s a daunting task to be matched in the round-robin against goalies with such sterling reputations.
It’s also a chance for Hart to start building his reputation.
Where is Isaias now? Where is the forecasted path?
New Jersey remains in the forecast cone. Options from a graze up the coast to an inland track near the Delaware River are possible. Tropical storm warnings extend from Boston, down the I-95 corridor to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
It is important to note that the heaviest rain will be to the west of Isaias' center. Meanwhile, the strongest winds will be to the east.
How do you say Isaías?
"Isaías" is the Spanish and Portuguese word for the biblical Isaiah. It is pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs.
New Jersey is in the forecast cone
Isaias joins Tropical Storm Fay, which made landfall just south of Long Beach Island on July 10, as the two storms put the region in the forecast cone.
The cone represents a two-thirds probability of where the center of the low pressure center is.
The storm will slip through a weakness in a large high pressure system, which expands from the Gulf of Mexico into much of the Atlantic Ocean.
One it reaches Georgia, the steering patterns sharply moves west to east. While the storm won't curve immediately out to sea, there will be a turn to the northeast as it moves north, hence why New Jersey is in the forecast cone.
Forecast model guidance continues to narrow. A landfall will be possible, or can a pass two to three hundred miles out to sea.
There are three scenarios at play
There are three options at play. However, it will not be until Saturday when they can be narrowed down. If the storm makes landfall before reaching New Jersey, that will weaken the storm, and vice versa. The first two scenarios are favored, with the third one looking less and less likely.
Isaias stays 200 to 300 miles out to sea, passing between late Monday and Tuesday.
Spotty, but heavy, rain bands will pass. Winds would be gusty, but likely would not be enough to bring damage.
The real concerns would be out on the water. Given the full moon Monday and the onshore winds. Multiple rounds of minor or moderate coastal flooding would be likely. High seas would be present, with dangerous rip currents, too. During Tropical Storm Fay, a teenage lost his life in Ventnor while swimming with two friends the evening of the storm. In Ocean City, two 18-year-old girls were brought to shore by city police the following morning.
A heat wave that drives you to the shore, warm water temperature that draws you to the surf …
The storm hugs the Jersey Shore. While the western side of the storm is usually the safer side, since the winds around the counter-clockwise spinning system goes against the northerly direction of the storm's movement, worse impacts than option 1 are possible.
Flooding rain, damaging winds at the coast, minor to moderate coastal flooding, dangerous rip currents and high seas will all be likely.
This being said, a track coast to the close would likely mean land interaction with North Carolina. If that happens, the storm would weaken. This could mean the difference between a strong tropical storm and weak, less organized one.
The Global Forecast System, American, model paints this picture. Though, note that the exact track of the storm should not be paid attention to. Rather, note how organized the storm is.
Isaias makes landfall in Florida or the Southeastern United States and the center of the storm passes to the west of the state. That is illustrated on the western edge of the forecast cone.
The storm would likely be a remnants storm by then, or perhaps a Tropical Depression. However, flooding rains, some coastal flooding, dangerous seas, rip currents and high surf would be likely.
Joe's 7-Day Forecast
When will we have a good idea on what the exact impacts will be?
By then, the storm will be near Florida. In the weakness of the large, Gulf of Mexico to Atlantic Ocean high pressure system, there will be a better idea on how the steering currents will move the storm.
Tropical Storm watches may go up Saturday night or Sunday morning, 48 hours before tropical storm force (39 mph or greater) winds arrive.
For more context on Isaías and the 2020 hurricane season
The Press of Atlantic City's Hurricane section of the Weather Center has the information you need to know to protect yourself and learn more about tropical systems in South Jersey.
Ten tropical storms and hurricanes have made landfall in South Jersey since 1900. Here's the list, newly updated with Tropical Storm Fay, which made landfall July 10. As long as the storm makes landfall in New Jersey, it will be the first time with two storms making landfall within the same year.
An active 2020 hurricane season was predicted by Colorado State University. With Isaias, 2020 continues its record breaking pace to hurricane season, beating out the historic 2005 year.