The Philadelphia Flyers are currently in the midst of a nine-game winning streak and have soared up the NHL standings because of it. As of March 9th, the team has a record of 41-20-7 with 232 goals for and 194 against. They had 89 points and were tied with the Washington Capitals for first place in the Eastern Conference’s Metropolitan Division. They were also tied for fourth place in the overall league standings.
Of course, a playoff spot isn’t guaranteed but the Flyers owned an eight point lead over the fourth place Columbus Blue Jackets in the Metropolitan with two games in hand. They were also 10 points in front of the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders who were tied for fifth place in the division on March 9 with the Islanders and Carolina having a game in hand on the Flyers. One of the main reasons for Philadelphia’s success of late has been the goaltending of sophomore Carter Hart.
The way Hart’s been playing lately it looks like the Flyers may have finally found a worthy franchise goalie after searching for one for many years. Flyers’ fans may be wary though considering the franchise has seen a league-leading total of eight goaltenders start a minimum of 99 contests for the team in the past 20 years. This includes netminders such as Roman Cechmanek, Robert Esche, Ilya Bryzgalov and Antero Niittymaki.
Hart was drafted by the Flyers in 2016 in the second round with the 48th overall selection from the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League (WHL) and was the first goaltender taken that year. Hart recently returned to the Flyers’ lineup on February 10th after being sidelined for four weeks with an injury. Since making his return, Hart has gone 9-1 in his last 10 starts with a 92.9 save percentage and he’s won 11 of his last 12 decisions. He’s been excellent in net over the past few months after a terrible start during October.
The future looks very bright for Hart since he’s just 21 years old as most goalies don’t mature until later in their careers. In fact, there have been just six NHL goalies to play in 40 games before the age of 22 with a save percentage above 91.0. The other five were Roberto Luongo, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Martin Brodeur, Carey Price and Felix Potvin. The 6-foot-2-inch, 180 lb Hart of Sherwood Park, Alberta had played 73 regular-season NHL games as of March 9th with a 40-25-4 record while posting a 91.5 save percentage and a 2.60 goals-against average.
This means Hart tops the list of under-22 goalies when it comes to save percentage. He went 16-13-1 last season with a 2.83 GAA and a 91.5 save percentage as the Flyers missed the playoffs. So far this season Hart is 24-12-3 with a 2.43 GAA and a 91.3 save percentage. Since being drafted he’s played just 18 games in the minors as he went 9-8-1 with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League in 2018/19 while posting a 3.05 GAA and a 90.2 save percentage.
Hart has actually performed better at the NHL level since being called up in December of 2018 than in the AHL. And unless the Flyers collapse in their last 14 games of the regular season he should have no problem leading the team to the playoffs this spring. If they do happen to make the postseason, Hart and his Flyers’ teammates could possibly be one of the favourites to go all the way to the Stanley Cup final if they can continue their fine play of late for the next couple of months.
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