The 2022-2023 season represents another opportunity for Carter Hart to redeem his superstar potential in the NHL.
Hart is the current and future between the pipes in Philadelphia. His first two seasons drew comparisons to Carey Price. In the last two seasons, Hart was average, coming back down to earth.
A new defensive structure will be present with Philadelphia during 2022-2023, courtesy of John Tortorella and Brad Shaw. Hart has suffered from a lack of defensive stability during the past two seasons, but the tide can change in 2022-2023. This new structure can benefit many players, but Hart can reap the most rewards.
Carter Hart: Career-to-date
Since making his Flyers debut in 2018, Hart has played in 146 games (62-61-16, 90.5%SV, 2.97GAA.) His best season to date was during 2019-2020. Before the pause, Hart owned a record of 24-13-3, a 91.4%SV, and allowed a 2.42GAA in 43 games. In the bubble, Hart was 9-5-0, with a 92.6%SV and a 2.23GAA through 14 games.
Hart was ranked ninth in wins, eighth in goals against, and 21st in save percentage (20+ starts) in 2019-2020. His statistics since then have been on a decline.
During 2020-2021, Hart played in 27 games and had a record of 9-11-5. He plummeted to an 87.7%SV and his 3.67GAA was the worst of his career. He missed the final thirteen games of the 2020-2021 season due to an MCL sprain.
Last season, the Flyers blue line was supposed to provide stability in front of Hart. The additions of Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen meant to add more skill and grit, giving Philadelphia the tools to push back into a playoff position. That didn’t happen.
Regarding Hart, he did take a step forward in a disastrous year for Philadelphia. In 44 games, Hart had a 13-24-7 record, a 90.5%SV, and a 3.16GAA. The Flyers’ defense was lowly, not helping Hart along the way.
Hart salvaged an ugly record, but the Flyers’ season. Hart began to struggle towards the end of March when he was battling injury but usually did his part to keep Philadelphia in the game. In April, Hart exited the lineup for the remainder of the season.
With Tortorella and Shaw behind the bench, playing better in front of Hart will be a focal point. Tortorella mentioned that before his hire:
“We’ve got to allow him to get himself situated in this league. I think we just have to play better team defense.”John Tortorella; 6/17/2022
Tortorella and Shaw brought Columbus’ defense from near the bottom of the league to the top ten. Sergei Bobrovsky won his second Vezina Trophy during 2016-2017, credited to the revamped Columbus defense.
Playing the right way, defensively and offensively, with consistent pressure, translates to an overall ‘hard’ game. That was the foundation to success in Columbus when the Blue Jackets swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Cam Atkinson is familiar with Tortorella and Shaw, playing in Columbus from 2011-2021. He’ll know what to expect from his Philadelphia teammates during this coming season:
“He helped us in Columbus by playing the right way; playing defense first, not always blocking shots, but playing the right way allows you to play freely in the offensive zone. It’s amazing when you do play quick and hard in the defensive zone, it usually leads to good zone time in the offensive zone where everyone wants to play.”Cam Atkinson; 9/13/2022
Hart is excited about the defensive structure that Tortorella and Shaw present. He’s spoken briefly to Shaw already and is looking forward to the improvements in front of him:
“I think him and Brad coached together in Columbus. They had some success there, knocked off a number one seed with Tampa Bay there in the playoffs. I’ve had a brief conversation with Coach Brad, and I’m excited to what they’re both going to bring to our defensive structure and to our game.”Carter Hart; 9/22/2022
It could take time for the system to click in Philadelphia; players need to adjust to a new style. If things work out, the Flyers’ defense will improve, and Hart will look like his former self.
(Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)