Going into the round-robin games, there was plenty of excitement surrounding Carter Hart. The young goaltender, who just turned 22 today, was coming off of a stellar first-full NHL season. But of course, with that lack of experience and a wobbly road record, comes a cause for concern. It didn’t take long for Hart to silence the doubters. With his first official playoff game behind him, he may have reaffirmed his stature as the next great Flyers goaltender.
Kick-start my (Carter) Hart
In three games so far this postseason, Hart is yet to lose, winning all in regulation with a 1.0 goal against average coupled with a 96.6% save percentage. Against the Canadiens though, Carter Hart was no longer in a dress rehearsal. This was the real deal. The first of a seven-game series that would either spark or extinguish the belief in a run at the Stanley Cup.
Hart saved 27 of 28 shots in a game that saw Montreal slowly ramp up the intensity before coming out swinging in a vital third period. Hart was cool, calm, & collected from start to finish. He lifted a wobbly Flyers defense to a win. In doing so. he became the seventh goaltender in NHL history to win his first three playoff games before the age of 22 (by one day, talk about clutch!). He was the first since Matt Murray in 2015-16 to accomplish this.
In an odd way, it’s no surprise that the wonderkid has such a strong level of composure. He mentioned before the playoffs that he’d prepare as if it was any other game, so the ice-cold approach was hardy a shock.
“Honestly, I just prepared the same.” Hart explained after the win. “Coming into the playoffs here, it’s a different situation for everybody having a lot break in between, but we all prepare the same. We do our video before games to get ready. Everybody has their own way of preparing. You just have to prepare like it’s any other game.”
“I’ve gotten to know Carter.” Said Head Coach Alain Vigneault. I’ve got to know how he sees the game and handles a situation. He’s been through big games before and he’s played well. He’s just going out there and doing what he’s supposed to do, giving us a chance to win games.
Hart spurred the Flyers to a win and into the record books and made it look easy, all while doing so against a goalie he idolized growing up – Carey Price. Price still made life difficult for the Flyers, but are we going to witness a true passing of the torch here? Only time will tell. But if there was ever a game to silence the critics and really assert himself as a goaltender ready to perform under the brightest lights, this was it.