It’s been a long time coming, but Flyers fans finally got to see their goaltending darling in net on Monday night. 20-year old Carter Hart entered tonight coming off of a season with the Silvertips in which he gave up an average of just 1.6 goals per game. Turning heads wherever he goes, Hart was also able to represent Canada at the 2018 World Juniors where he looked to help Canada get its first gold medal since 2015. Unfortunately for Hart and team Canada, they lost in the gold-medal game…but that didn’t stop him giving the Philly faithful a golden like performance.
Taking over halfway into a preseason matchup with the Islanders, Hart relieved Michal Neuvirth who had just allowed a goal. The pressure was on in front of the fans, but he earned praise for his composure and calmness from his teammates. That directly translated into proaction. Hart would save all 11 shots fired in his direction, helping guide the Flyers to a 3-1 win.
“I felt like I was seeing the puck pretty good.” Hart stated after the win. “Like I said, it helps when they’re keeping all the chances to the outside. I thought we played really well the whole game.”
Preparing to enter the game as a backup is a very different experience to when you know you’re going in as the starter. It’s a change of scenery for Hart, who played in his first preseason game last night and was waiting for his name to be called instead of going out as the team’s top option, something last season’s WHL player of the year is very much used to.
“Yeah, I was just kind of in the tunnel stretching, getting a little bit loose.” Hart said recalling the moments before he skated out to relieve Neuvirth. “Just to get ready and loose for the game. Honestly I was just thinking about getting ready and getting into the game. Being prepared from puck drop once I get in there.”
It wasn’t a ‘phenomenal’ performance, but Hart was quiet, solid and efficient, deflecting everything that came his way. As a goalie, that’s all you could ever really ask. What didn’t come off in his outing was just how big this moment was. Hart’s first real taste of NHL action fresh off a dominant season in which he was heralded with accolades was bound to be filled with pressure or the weight of expectation. The Flyer faithful roared when he stepped out onto the ice for the first time, but you wouldn’t know this was a monumental occasion. Hart settled down quickly and got to work, a sign of real maturity from a young goalie with a sky-high ceiling.
“To play in my first preseason game with like I said, the big boys and the older guys where as compared to playing in the rookie games in the past.” Hart explained. “It was cool to get out there, especially in front of the home fans and play.”
Hart will no doubt be soaking up the atmosphere from last night’s win, but there’s little time to reflect. The Flyers are already preparing for another clash against the Islanders tonight.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports