Carter Hart continues strong start in hopeful rebound season

Carter Hart will be the first to admit he wasn’t at the top of his game during the 2019-20 season, but the young goaltender is thriving in the early stages of the new campaign for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Hart claimed his third win of the 2020-21 season on Monday, making 29 saves in a 3-0 home win over the Arizona Coyotes. Arizona pushed the Flyers for just over 40 minutes at the Wells Fargo Center, and gave Hart plenty to handle, but the fourth-year goaltender stood on his head to help the hosts rebound from a weekend defeat in Calgary.

“Yeah I feel good,” Hart said postgame. “I mean we have a good group here. We have fun and we’re coming to work every day, our guys are doing their job in front of me of boxing guys out and letting me see the puck and of creating second chances, so we’ve done a good job of that so far.”

“I mean it’s always fun to put a zero [shutout] up on the board, but two points is all that matters.”

After back-to-back winning campaigns to start his NHL career, Hart struggled last season, along with the Flyers as a whole, as the team missed out on the playoffs. The 23-year-old finished with a 9-11-5 record in his third NHL season, but knew he had to get back on track to avoid any slip in Alain Vigneault’s depth chart.

Hart may have lost two of his six starts so far this fall, but overall has shown once again why he is a rising talent in the league. His 2.33 goals against average is a big improvement from last season while his .928 save percentage ranks in the Top 15 among goaltenders.

Hart has also contributed 30 saves or more in three of his starts this season, showing he is up to the task as the Flyers new defensive unit continues to gain chemistry with one another. Sure, the defensive performances might need to be improve in a competitive Metropolitan Division, but with Hart starting, he will always give the Flyers a chance to earn two points each night.

“Well I just think he is battling extremely hard on all shots,” Vigneault said about Hart. “Technically, I’m not a goaltender expert, so I couldn’t really give you the fundamentals there. He seems in a real good place mentally. Been playing extremely well. Played extremely well again tonight. We’re like every team in the NHL that wants to have success, you have to have good goaltending and we are definitely getting it right now.”

“You need good goaltending, and he gave us a chance to win tonight,” Ristolainen said about Hart after Monday’s gritty win.

Hart and the Flyers return to action on Thursday against in-state rivals Pittsburgh, providing another early challenge in the opening weeks of the new season. If the young goaltender can get back to his form of two seasons ago, the Orange and Black will certainly be in the mix for silverware next spring.

You can follow Larry Henry on Twitter (@lhenry019) and e-mail him at [email protected].

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