Flyers’ Struggles Can’t be Blamed on Carter Hart

November definitely was not a month of triumph and success for our beloved Philadelphia Flyers; A 10-game losing streak and a lengthy list of top-line players out with injury certainly played a role in the struggles the team endured. I can sit here and focus on the aspects of the Flyers game over the past month that haven’t been as successful as we all hoped, but rather let’s focus on a positive, Carter Hart.

A Positive Piece to Flyers Game

Any goaltender is definitely applying for a tough job, but in the case of the Flyers, it’s a whole new game of tough. Hart has been the talk of the town since the preseason when he missed a majority of training camp due to injury. However, he came back, seemingly better than ever, opening up the first five games of the season with five wins under his belt and a 0.93 save percentage (SV%).

Related: NHL’s Top-5 Comeback Players of Early 2022-23

Latest News & Highlights

Hart has, without a doubt, played above expectations this season. Now, through 19 games of play with Hart in net, he currently has a 0.91 SV%, with a 2.8 goals-against average (GAA). The league’s current average SV% is 0.90, with a 2.9 GAA. Hart’s success, statistically speaking, doesn’t show how much of a saviour he has been for the team so far. With the Flyers’ game looking below average from what fans saw at the start of the year, Hart has played a strong game in front of the net.

Although some may argue through November that Hart was less than impressive, the entire idea of being a netminder is solely set on the fact you have to allow fewer goals than your team is producing, but that’s a tricky thing to do when your team isn’t performing on the other end of the ice, or lacking in defensive depth with sloppy turnovers, and needless plays. Defense has been a major struggle for the Flyers over the month of November with players like Rasmus Ristolainen not meeting full defensive zone capabilities, who was called out by head coach John Tortorella, early in November. Still, this area isn’t just singled out by one player, the entire defensive structure is showing as a key area for improvement for the flyers.

One of the things to really praise Hart for is his ability to not dwell over mistakes or allow his mental game to hinder him. “I think it just comes down to goaltending at the end of the day. I gotta be better, make a few more saves, make some better plays. Learn from it, move on and I will be better,” Hart told media after a post-game loss to the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 3. Staying mentally strong is a crucial component for any goaltender, especially from Hart, who has struggled since the 2020-21 season to find a solid rhythm in his play, closing out last season with a 0.90 save percentage and 3.1 goals against average.

Carter Hart Philadelphia Flyers
Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Moving into the start of the 2022-2023 campaign, the 24-year-old goaltender had plenty of people relying on him to help turn the teams’ results around. Much of that comes from the new identity born through the new head coach Tortorella. Tortorella acknowledged Hart’s play in games and talked about their situational responses in trying to find that new identity after a 5-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 5, “the situation we’ve been in this year, it’s hard to be a goaltender with us. You can’t make a mistake because we just haven’t been able to give him run support”.

The support from Tortorella is behind Hart, and he has definitely been a positive attribute for the Flyers as he remains a backbone for the team. His responses and resilience in games should help the Flyers find “who they are” this season. As the team continues to improve parts of their game, it should reflect on Hart’s play as well, and hopefully, the team will continue to battle to find more successful results.

Sign up for our regular 'Flyers Newsletter' for all the latest.