December 28, 2022
Carter Hart looked fine and was practicing on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the Flyers placed him on injured reserve.
An upper-body injury was the official diagnosis from the team Wednesday morning, and head coach John Tortorella later disclosed that the 24-year old goaltender is under concussion protocol.
"Carter continues to work," Tortorella said during his media availability on Wednesday. "We'll see where it all goes as far as the protocol."
Hart entered last Friday's 6-5 loss at Carolina in relief of backup Samuel Ersson but had to exit late in the second period after defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen knocked the Hurricanes' Seth Jarvis into the crease, resulting in a head-on-head collision.
Hart returned to practice Tuesday following the holiday break, which was a promising sign, and continued to practice Wednesday, but needs to get through a final evaluation before he's cleared to play, Tortorella said.
The Flyers are heading out west for a three-game road trip beginning Thursday at San Jose then on to Los Angeles on Saturday and Anaheim on Monday.
Hart will still be making the trip alongside Ersson and Felix Sandström, with Ersson slated to get the start against the Sharks as a means to give Hart more time as well as the 23-year old another shot following his rocky NHL debut down in Carolina.
"I don't think we played that well in front of him," Tortorella said. "I don't think we helped him in his first start, the first shot goes in, it just wasn't great.
"Then when Carter gets hurt, we put him back in. You don't draw it up that way, but I thought he stood in there. It shows me a little bit of his character. I think he has a good feel about himself, I think the right type of swagger for a goalie to have....I want to put him right back in."
Forward Olle Lycksell was recalled from Lehigh Valley and Max Willman was placed on waivers to coincide with Hart's placement on IR.
Ersson, after putting up solid numbers with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms down in the AHL (.910 save percentage and a 2.72 goals-against average through 18 games), got called up ahead of the pre-holiday road trip through Toronto and Carolina, but got a rough introduction to the show in the latter, stopping just 25 of 30 shots from the Hurricanes.
Still, Tortorella saw promise back in camp and results down in the AHL. He wants to see what's there.
"We knew Carter was gonna be our No. 1 guy, but Ers was our best goalie in camp," Tortorella said.
"I think he deserves an opportunity and we'll see where it goes from there."
After an unsteady couple of years, Hart has bounced back between the pipes and has probably been the Flyers' best player all season.
Through 26 starts, he has a .911 save percentage and a 2.89 goals-against average, but with the Flyers working through a list of struggles defensively, those numbers likely don't do him full justice. His technique has been noticeably cleaner this year compared to the last two seasons and has been consistent enough to the point where he gives the Flyers a chance when he's in or, in some cases, has outright stolen games – like in the 2-1 win against the Devils on December 15.
"He's been great all year," winger Joel Farabee said after the 4-3 loss at Toronto last Thursday. "He's done everything we've asked of him. He's someone that when he's in the net, we have a ton of confidence playing in front of him. He's been awesome."
Follow Nick on Twitter: @itssnick
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports