September 18, 2018
He's 20 years old and walks softly. He looks young but confident. You wouldn't know that thousands of Flyers fans are depending on him to save the franchise. You wouldn't know he's never played in an NHL game before.
But the Carter Hart era may be soon upon us, as the Flyers' recent second round pick played his first real NHL game — albeit a preseason one — against the Islanders Monday night. He dipped his toes in the water and looked right at home in net at the Wells Fargo Center.
"To play in my first preseason game with the big boys and the older guys where as compared to playing in the rookie games in the past," Hart said, "it was cool to get out there, especially in front of the home fans and play."
Hart played about 30 minutes and had 11 saves in relief of Michal Neuvirth, who played the first period and a half.
Indications are that Hart will enter the season as the third goalie in the Flyers' system, with Brian Elliott and Neuvirth expected to start on the NHL roster. Which means he'll be in Lehigh Valley — at least for a few months.
Nevertheless, he's made an impression thus far in camp and should stay around for a while as the team cuts down its roster.
"Carter continued doing what he’s done through camp," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said after the 3-1 win. "He’s been pretty consistent and neither guy had a ton of work tonight, but they both went out and did their job and Carter much the same he’s not an overactive guy in the net, especially for a young guy he is very calm and doesn’t make anything look too difficult because he is settled and really good and sound and I thought sound, sold performance for him."
If he can come close to replicating his 1.60 goals against average and .947 save percentage he posted as an Everett Silvertip last season, perhaps there's a chance Hart could emerge as the goalie Flyers fans have longed for for decades.
It could happen, it just won't when the season opens in Las Vegas in less than a month.
Flyers fans just have to be patient for a little bit longer.
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