A crushing 4-0 defeat was not how the Flyers or their die-hard fans hoped this playoff series would end, especially after such a thrilling win just two days beforehand. There’s naturally a lot of frustration, unrest, and hunger in the air right now as all eyes turn to the offseason in hopes of forgetting the that egg was laid last night. But if there’s one positive that should be taken from the bubble experience, it’s the coming of age of star goalie Carter Hart.
The story so far
Hart became the youngest goalie to have played in more than 20 games, this year. Philadelphia’s franchise goalie rallied to a .914 save percentage in his first full season, ranking 10th overall in wins, while his sensational 20-3-2 record at home helped drive the Flyers into the postseason with a real sense of purpose, but his road-record and age naturally raised some concerns.
At just 22-years-old, Hart would be the last line of defense for a Flyers team that have not only been starved of a Stanley Cup for 55 years, but of a strong playoff run. His spider-like reflexes would not only be called upon, but relied upon as he faced some of his greatest inspirations and tried to make the leap from wonderkid to star.
The future is bright for the Flyers
Should we really be shocked that Hart propelled himself into the history books throughout this fourteen game run? In a month where the Flyers struggled to find the complete package, Hart was largely the team’s most dependable player outside of a few blips.
With an impressive 27-save outing against the Canadiens capping consecutive wins in the play-in matchups, Hart 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!).
If that wasn’t enough, his stunning 49-save outing against the Islanders in game 6 ranked fifth in franchise history for saves by a goaltender in the playoffs.
In 14 total games, Hart rallied to a 9-5 record, picking up a pair of shutouts in the process. He ranked 3rd among goalies who played in 10+ games in save percentage (.926%) and 5th in GAA (2.23).
Hart may have wobbled slightly in games 4 and 7 against the Isles, but that shoudn’t put a dent in the extremely impressive postseason resume he was putting together. He isn’t superman. If the Flyers can’t take advantage of powerplays or find production from their stars, they’re going to have a lower ceiling regardless of how long Hart keeps them kicking and screaming.
At just 22-years-old, Hart did what a lot of people worried he’d be unable to after his 4-10 road record in 2020. He not only performed well on neutral ice against some of the best the NHL had to offer but proved he’s rapidly emerging as one of the brightest young stars in the league. If there is ever a positive to take from these playoffs, it’s that Hart is now battle-tested in the postseason. Next time the Flyers make it into the playoffs, they can sleep soundly knowing that they have Carter Hart between the pipes who looks like he’s only going to get better with more experience.