Hart needs to prove he can be one of NHL’s top goaltenders, says Flyers coach
Carter Hart has yet to prove he can be one of the best goalies in the NHL, Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said Tuesday.
“He’s still a very young player who plays a really difficult position,” said Vigneault. “With the right mindset, the right attitude, the right work ethic to move forward, he’s got all the skills to be a real, solid goalie. Now he has to come out and prove it.”
The 22-year-old is 9-11-5 in 27 games this season, and of the 32 goalies to have played at least 25 games, his 3.67 goals-against average was the highest and his percentage of stops of .877 was the lowest.
Those numbers represented a significant drop from 2019-2020 when Hart, in his second NHL season, was 24-13-3 with a GAA of 2.42 and save percentage of .914, and of 9-5 with an GAA of 2.23, a save percentage of .926 and two. shutouts in 14 Stanley Cup playoff games to help the Flyers reach the Eastern Conference second round.
Hart, however, remains confident in his abilities.
“I believe in myself and believe I can be a better goalie in this league,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to a great workout this offseason, I’ve moved back in with family and friends and have a good plan for this offseason.”
Hart said some technical parts of his game have slipped in part due to a lack of practice time and the condensed schedule. Part of that had to do with Philadelphia having to suspend its season Feb. 8-17 due to NHL COVID-19 protocols, then play 17 games in 30 days in March, or 6-10-1.
He sustained an MCL sprained left knee in a 2-1 shootout victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 15. He finished the game but felt knee pain the next day and has not played again this season.
He said living alone in his apartment during the pandemic and limited social interaction also took a toll on him, especially early in the season.
“You kind of come home and you’re just in your own thoughts all the time because you’re just sitting alone in your apartment,” he says. “But things were a lot better at the end. I felt a lot happier hanging out with the boys more and I think that was kind of a big part of my game towards the end, just enjoying the game more and be more. grateful for where I am. “
Center Kevin hayes said he and his teammates were grateful to have Hart as their No.1 goalie.
“Getting to know him and seeing his work ethic and how he’s doing in his professional game, I think he’s going to be one of the best goalies in the league next year,” said Hayes. “He’s a player that myself, this team, this organization really matters to and I think everyone has a ton of confidence in him, know how hard he works. I think he’s going to walk away from him. the rink, reset and figure out his best way to get back to where he was. “
Hart is second-youngest NHL goalie to appear in at least 10 games this season, after Dallas Stars Jake oettinger, who is four months younger.
This is one of the reasons the Flyers remain confident that the problems Hart faced were more of a young player in an unusual season than any long-term downtrend.
“He’s a young man who finds his way,” said Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher. “We asked a lot of Carter. He’s an early talent. He rose through the ranks very quickly and clearly this year has not gone the way he had hoped or as we had all hoped for.
“But there’s a lot of talent there and I think we expect Carter to make the necessary adjustments and come back and be the goalie we all want him to be and hope to be. a high-end talent and it’s a tough league but he’ll make the adjustments he needs to make and he’ll get back in shape. “
Hart has recovered from a sprained ligament in his knee that kept him from playing in the last 13 games of the season. It was a last game of adversity he had to face, but Hart said he believed the hardships he had been through this season would serve as a learning experience.
“I think in the future it will only help me in my career for next season,” he said. “I wish you a great summer training, and I’ll be ready for next year. I can’t wait to have a clean slate next year. I think we all are, and we’ll all be better next year. I know it. “