Updated: 2:22 p.m.
VOORHEES, N.J. — Here comes the kid.
The much anticipated NHL debut of promising prospect Carter Hart could happen as soon as Tuesday when the Flyers take on the Red Wings.
The Flyers on Monday recalled the 20-year-old goaltender after sending Alex Lyon back to Lehigh Valley and losing Anthony Stolarz for the next two to four weeks with a lower-body injury. Stolarz left last Saturday’s game not long after giving up two goals on the Canucks' first four shots (see story).
"I was actually at our team Christmas party last night when I got the call from our coach Scott Gordon, so I was pretty excited," Hart said Monday. "It's something I’ve dreamt of as a kid. I’ve always wanted to be an NHL hockey player since I was 4 years old. When I got the call, I was really excited and kind of shaking with enthusiasm a little bit."
Lyon’s effort in Vancouver was clearly subpar after allowing two easily stoppable goals — Josh Leivo’s sharp-angle shot from near the goal line and Brock Boeser’s slap shot from just inside the blue line that gave the Canucks a 4-1 lead.
At this point, what do the Flyers have to lose?
It may be the one move capable of galvanizing a Flyers fan base desperate for change. Hart has been widely considered the long-term answer to the Flyers' longtime goaltending issues.
Hart appears to have adjusted recently to the AHL level with a 4-1-0 record, 1.82 GAA and .939 save percentage since Nov. 30. He also recorded his first career shutout with the Phantoms with a 1-0 win over the Hershey Bears on Dec. 7.
"I think I’m just trusting my game and not overthinking plays,” Hart said on his recent resurgence. “I know earlier in the year making the transition from juniors to the pro level, I was overanalyzing everything. I obviously talked with the coaches down there and my goalie coaches back home, and I just got to trust my game. I've got to play to my strengths. When it’s game time, it’s just time to play.”
Interestingly, Hart could start Tuesday night’s game at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers' first game back on home ice since Dec. 6. Michal Neuvirth left the team Thursday in Edmonton to be with his wife Karolina, who gave birth to a baby boy Sunday night.
Regardless of how well Hart has played with the Phantoms recently, it remains to be seen how much he can mask the Flyers' ongoing defensive issues. Over the final four games of the current five-game road trip, the Flyers allowed 22 goals, an average of 5.5 goals per game.
Hart’s call-up could be seen as a blessing; it could also signal a curse as the team has been snakebitten all season with injuries to four different goaltenders.
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