December 18 of 2018 marked a date that Flyers fans will remember for years to come. It was the date that phenom Carter Hart made his first NHL start for the Philadelphia Flyers. Hart took the ice against the Detroit Red Wings and demonstrated skill and poise beyond his years, taking home his first victory as well that night.
From then on, Hart has become the guy for the Flyers between the pipes, going 9-5-1 overall with a 2.58 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. Hart has won six straight games currently and is vying for his 7th straight victory against the Vancouver Canucks tonight.
Hart’s play has been nothing short of special since joining a Flyers club that was floundering for the first half of the year. Their special teams were atrocious, they couldn’t score, and, lest we forget, they have gone through 7 goaltenders already this year. Interestingly enough, other aspects of the team’s game has picked up as well.
Before Carter Hart joined the Flyers, the penalty kill was ailing, and ailing big time. In 102 attempts to kill off a penalty, the Flyers killed off 75 of them for a 73.5% penalty kill rate. At the time, it ranked in the cellar of the entire NHL, teetering back and forth with Ottawa for the title of worst PK in the league.
Since December 18th, the Flyers have killed off 48 of 59 penalties for an 81.4% penalty kill rate, nearly 8% better than the last mark. When you add it all together, the Flyers still have the 4th worst penalty kill of all NHL teams at 76.4%, but it’s showing signs of progressing and improving as the season rolls along.
The powerplay was another point of weakness for the Flyers during their first 31 games of the 2018-19 season. The Flyers registered 12 powerplay goals for the first 31 games of the season. 93 powerplays for an average of 12.9%, which was again, good for battling it out for last place, this time against the Chicago Blackhawks. After Carter Hart joined the club, things took a turn once again, and for the better.
Over the past 21 games, the Flyers have had 61 attempts on the powerplay. They converted on 13 of them. That’s one more powerplay goal on 32 fewer attempts than the first 31 games, for a powerplay conversion rate of 21.3%. The powerplay has taken a turn for the better as well, but is still in the bottom half of the league, standing at 16.2% on the season.
Call it the coaching change, call it finding their groove, but having a capable goaltender that the forwards and defensemen can trust is surely contributing to the success of the special teams. Carter Hart’s arrival wasn’t supposed to be the catalyst for a revival of the special teams, but it sure seems to have made an impact on how they perform.
An even more telling stat is how the Flyers special teams play when Hart is in net, instead of just being with the team.
In 15 of those 21 games since Hart joined the Flyers, he played in, and the special teams play was stellar. The Flyers went 10 for 43 on the powerplay for a percentage of 23.3%. Even better, the penalty kill, which stood at 36 of 42 and 85.7%.
Call it what you will, but the players in front of Carter Hart seem to be playing much better now that the rookie is in net. There’s more of a sense of urgency among the defense, the forwards seem to be shoring up their defensive play as well, and they seem to be scoring more as well. Players are simply playing better in front of Hart, and Hart is playing better than the other 6 guys who played in net before him.
Call it what you will, but the Carter Hart Effect is proven, and especially prevalent during this current 7 game win streak
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports