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January 05, 2017

Flyers goaltender prospects put on show at World Juniors

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As it turned out, TSN reporter (via the Daily News) Frank Seravalli’s words proved prescient.

“Being a goaltender of Canada’s national team is one of the toughest jobs in sports,” he said on Tuesday. “Your job isn’t necessarily to win the game, it’s to not lose the game.”

Being the goaltender of the Canadian national hockey team is difficult enough, but it’s even harder when you are 18-years old and the country essentially shuts down for two weeks while it hosts the IIHF World Junior Championship. That is the type of pressure Carter Hart is dealing with, anyway.

Hart, a goaltender for the Everett Silvertips of the WHL who was selected 48th overall in last June’s entry draft by the Flyers, will already know a thing or two about pressure by the time he gets to Philly. Heading into last night’s semifinal against Sweden, he had lost his starting job to Lightning prospect Connor Ingram.

But then, in the semifinal against a very strong Swedish team, Hart entered the game cold off the bench after Ingram gave up two goals on the first three shots he faced.

So, how did Hart respond? By stopping all 28 shots he faced (including the one that almost squired past him below), which was good enough for Player of the aGme honors after the Canadians came back for a 5-2 win:

The Flyers have a deep group of goaltenders in the pipeline, and Hart’s opposite number on the night was another one of them in Felix Sandstrom. The 19-year-old Swede committed robbery on Colorado first-round pick Tyson Jost (taken 10th overall last year) not once but twice on Wednesday:

As we wrote about before the tournament, the Flyers have the most prospects in the World Juniors. Appearing on Comcast SportsNet, NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire (who knows a few things about the Sarnia Sting, Saskatoon Blades, and every other Canadian junior hockey team) thinks the Orange and Black have a bright future.

“I personally believe Philadelphia is destined to be one of the elite teams in the National Hockey League,” McGuire said. “Ron Hextall and his scouting staff have done a fantastic job, not just as the amateur level but at the pro level as well. When you see a player like Michael Raffl, when you see the acquisition of a Mark Streit, guys they’re acquiring at the professional level as well are really impressive.”

“The thing that stands out to me, Provorov and Konecny are two guys that are playing here now, they could both be in the World Junior too. This team is loaded, they’re stacked up, they’re ready to be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. They probably have 14 legitimate A-level prospects, which is unbelievable.”

Hart and the Canadians will take on the United States (USA! USA! USA!) tonight at 8:00 pm on NHL Network.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann