Philadelphia Flyers: Carter Hart is the greatest gift of all

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Flyers look like they may finally have the pieces to be a contending team, but none are more important to their chances than 21-year old netminder Carter Hart.

I hope you got what you wanted for Christmas. The Philadelphia Flyers definitely have.

Technically, Carter Hart was an early Christmas gift last year, arriving in the NHL to play his first game on December 18, 2018. His debut coincided with the firing of head coach Dave Hakstol and came just a few weeks after the man who drafted Hart, former GM Ron Hextall, had been ousted as well.

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The situation was desperate, and Hart was the only possible solution. He would go on to breathe life into a lost season, and his solid play actually got the team back into the playoff conversation for a time, though they ultimately fell short.

Still, Hart’s abbreviated rookie season was a success: 16 wins in 31 games (30 starts) with a .917 save percentage.

Consequently, great things were expected from Hart this season, although those expectations had actually been building from the moment that the Flyers selected him in the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft. He was the first goalie taken that year, regarded as a potential “franchise goaltender” if things broke right for him.

Now, three and a half years later and with 56 NHL games under his belt to this point, Carter Hart is fully delivering on that promise.

Hart has been particularly amazing at home this year, sporting a record of 11-1-2 to go along with a .947 save percentage and minuscule 1.49 Goals Against Average. To be fair, the flip side of this coin is that his statistics on the road leave a lot to be desired, so there is still some work left to do.

Still, it’s hard to argue with the overall results, especially lately, as Hart has surrendered exactly one goal in six of his last nine starts. Sounds like a recipe for success to me.

After years, decades even, of goaltending haunting the franchise, it’s understandable if Flyers fans feel that they need to see even more from Hart before putting all of their faith in him. But they’re getting there, slowly but surely, with that confidence growing by the game. It’s a great feeling when you believe that your goalie will give you a chance to win every night even if the rest of the team is not at is best.

At the same time, the Flyers organization is thanking its lucky stars for Carter Hart. Maybe they should even start sending a covert “thank you” to Ron Hextall every Christmas for giving them a gift that will keep on giving for years to come.

The future is unpredictable, so we don’t know for sure that Carter Hart will continue to ride this wave to NHL stardom and the ultimate goal of bringing a Stanley Cup back to Philadelphia.

But all Flyers fans should be excited about this gift that they’ve been given.

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I hope that the Flyers and their supporters will be happy to find Carter Hart under their tree every Christmas for about the next 15 years.