Lake Tahoe wasn’t kind to the Flyers, but it was especially cruel to goaltender Carter Hart. There was naturally a surge in criticism following last night’s 7-3 loss, but is there really a reason to be concerned?
In what was his worst statistical outing since the 4th game of last season, Hart surrendered six total goals to the Bruins, with four coming in the second period before Carter Hart was pulled from the game.
That first part is important. Hart also struggled to start last season before going on to record a campaign that left fans across the country purring. Through his opening six games last season, Hart conceded 17 goals on 123 shots, leaving him with a .862 save percentage and a 2-3-1 record. While the two seasons are drastically different, it’s important to remember the perception surrounding Hart at this time last year in comparison to how he was viewed after back-to-back playoff shutouts.
The Bruins have proven to be a thorn in the side of Hart this year, just as they have the Flyers in general. The orange and black are yet to find a way past Boston this season and Carter Hart has appeared in 3 of those 5 losses. Across those games, he’s averaged a .865 save percentage, accounting for 14 total goals allowed. Seven of those goals came when the Flyers have been shorthanded, also correlating to a struggling special teams unit.
While it’s clear Hart has struggled against Boston this season, it’s important to contextualize the rest of the games so far. Hart maintains a 5-3-3 record this season, with the Bruins accounting for 2 of those losses and 1 overtime loss.
If we take the Boston games out of Hart’s record, he currently holds a .914 save percentage, giving up an average of 2.57 goals per game and saving 31.5 shots per game. For context, that’s an identical save percentage to the 2019 season that fans hold so dear to their ‘Harts’, where he allowed 2.42 goals per game. The numbers really aren’t too far apart.
Hart played poorly on Sunday evening, there’s no way around it and there are no excuses to make. But to let his struggles against a bogey team define what has otherwise been a season filled with more promise than disappointment, makes little sense. The former Everett Silvertips goaltender is still only 22-years-old and has proven himself at every level. From his impressive rookie campaign to being the sole reason that Vigneault’s men had hope in the postseason at times, it’s normal to expect rises and falls, as is the same with every NHL goalie.
Should more be expected from Carter Hart? Absolutely. Is it too soon to start raising concerns? Again, absolutely.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre