Carter Hart faced the music like a pro up in Boston after putting on the wrong kind of show at TD Garden.
He answered questions and was contrite for expressing his anger with himself on the ice, calling his stick-breaking moment "unprofessional." In reality, he didn't have to apologize for doing something all professional hockey players have done at some point: show their frustrations.
But the 22-year-old took it head on and is ready to move on — thanks to a dose of musical therapy.
Hart enjoys playing the guitar in his free time and decided recently was a good time to hit the strings. Since the Flyers' 6-1 loss to the Bruins last Saturday, Hart has been gearing up for his next start Thursday against the Devils in Newark, New Jersey (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
"Just to go back to the basics, go back to the principles and foundation of my game," Hart said Wednesday after practice. "One of the biggest things is just have fun. And I think the last couple of days in practice, I’ve been having fun with the boys and just competing and working hard. It’s also important to get away from the game, so I started picking up the guitar a little bit more again and playing that."
Hart said he was trying to learn "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" by The Smashing Pumpkins the other night.
Tunes can be cathartic.
"I think that’s the most important thing is to find ways to get away from the game so that you can be more present in where you’re at," Hart said. "I feel like the last couple of days have been really good.”
Hart had a good talk over the phone with his mom Shauna and dad John after the game in Boston. The young goalie said he leans on his parents the most, along with seeking constant guidance from Flyers goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh and Hart's personal goalie coach back home Dustin Schwartz.
"I’m lucky that I have a good support system of people, mainly my family — they’ve been there for everything for me," Hart said. "Those are the people that I trust the most.”
Hart is 2-2-1 with a 4.18 goals-against average and .880 save percentage in five games. He has faced a lot of shots, making 139 saves on 158 of them. Entering Wednesday, his shots against per 60 minutes (34.8) was highest in the NHL among goaltenders with five or more games played.
Early on last season, Hart fell in a mini funk. He was 2-3-1 with a 3.32 goals-against average and .864 save percentage in his first seven games. He then went 22-10-2 with a 2.28 goals-against average and .920 save percentage the rest of the way.
"He’s going to be fine, he’s a real good goaltender, he’s proven that after an average performance, he can come back and play real well," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Wednesday. "And I expect him to play real well tomorrow."
Hart mentioned the importance of having fun. His teammates had fun with him about the shattered twig left in Boston.
“I had to re-tape a couple of new sticks for the game [Tuesday] because my game stick obviously was in six pieces, so the boys were giving it to me for having to re-tape a couple sticks," Hart said. "But that’s about it, and it’s all in good fun. That’s what’s so fun about our group is we can always poke fun at each other and share a couple of laughs.”
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