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Carter Hart makes hypothetical 2018 Team North America roster

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Carter Hart makes hypothetical 2018 Team North America roster

Remember the 2016 World Cup of Hockey? Yeah, that was a thing. It was kind of fun, mainly because it was (sort of) competitive hockey in September before the NHL season began.

The best part of the tournament was Team North America, a squad compiled with the best players from the United States and Canada 23 years old and younger.

Shayne Gostisbehere was 23 then and made the team. If you like speed and skill — you know, what makes hockey fun — it was eye candy.

In the past two days, The Athletic has looked back at Team North America. On Thursday, it was a pretty cool retelling of the North America-Sweden game.

Today, Craig Custance decided to put together a hypothetical Team North America roster for 2018, and while Gostisbehere graduated, there was one (soon-to-be) Flyer who made it.

Yup, Carter Hart.

Hart would join 22-year-old Thatcher Demko, a Vancouver Canucks 2014 second-round pick, as the goaltenders. That's a combined zero NHL games between the two.

Not exactly as polished as the 2016 group of John Gibson, Connor Hellebuyck and Matt Murray, which had a combined 105 regular-season games between them at the time.

Custance highlighted that this was a problem for the original 2016 Team North America squad — finding goalies 23-and-under. Stan Bowman, one of the masterminds behind the 2016 team, told The Athletic:

A calendar year ahead of time, the one thing I remember about is we had no goalie. We were even trying to petition to see if they would change the rules a little bit. At the time, Matt Murray and Connor Hellebuyck, they had never even played a game in the NHL. I remember, Peter (Chiarelli) and I got the response back, ‘No, that’s just the rules, you just have to deal with it.’

As for how Hart and Demko made the team, Custance references The Athletic's Corey Pronman's top 100 NHL prospects list in which Demko (No. 2) and Hart (No. 5) crack the top-five goalie prospects.

Hart was one of the Flyers' final cuts during training camp, but the plan always was to have him spend the 2018-19 season with the Phantoms. He made it hard on Ron Hextall, though.

Hart made his professional debut last Saturday in the Phantoms' regular-season opener, allowing three goals on 34 shots but made several huge saves in Lehigh Valley's 6-3 win over Bridgeport.

But watching Hart goaltend an even better Team North America in a hypothetical 2018 World Cup of Hockey would be hella fun.

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Flyers vs. Lightning: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Lightning: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

The hottest team in hockey will finally host the team that hasn’t turned down the heat all season.

With an NHL best 12-2-1 record since Jan. 12, the Flyers (28-24-7, 63 pts.) will continue their frenzied push for a playoff spot as they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning (45-11-4, 94 pts.) for the final time this season.

The Flyers will look to avoid their first season sweep against the Lightning since the 2013-14 season.

Let's take a look at tonight's essentials: 

• When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. 
• Where: Wells Fargo Center
• Broadcast: NBCSP
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers recalled goaltender Brian Elliott from his conditioning loan with the Phantoms and have activated him from injured reserve to the active roster (see story). Elliott will back up Carter Hart for tonight’s game against the Lightning.

Hart will be the fourth different Flyers goaltender the Lightning have faced in their last four meetings with Michal Neuvirth, Cal Pickard and Petr Mrazek as the others. 

After a 2-4-1 start to his career, Hart is 11-2-0 with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage over his last 13 appearances. 

• Tonight’s matchup is the 100th meeting between the Flyers and Lightning with the Flyers owning a 47-37-8-7 advantage.

In the first matchup at the Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 17, the Lightning became the sixth team in league history to cough up a four-goal lead in the third period before winning 6-5 in overtime. Ironically, the Flyers matched that same dubious feat when they lost a 5-1 lead to the Red Wings on Saturday before Travis Konecny pulled through with the game-winner in overtime.

In the Dec. 27 rematch at Amalie Arena, the Flyers battled back from a three-goal deficit in the third period, tying the game before Tampa Bay won it again in the OT period.  

• The speed of Lightning has been blinding so far this season. Tampa Bay needed just 58 games to reach the 90-point plateau. Only eight teams in NHL history have topped 90 points prior to their 60th regular-season game.

It’s a good test. If we find a way to squeak into the playoffs it’s a possible matchup for us. We’re excited about this game. The games we’ve played against them have been fun to play. I don’t see why tonight won’t be fun.

-Claude Giroux

Would you believe the 1979-80 Flyers hold the record? Pat Quinn’s team ripped off a 35-game unbeaten streak and started that season with a 39-4-13 mark for 91 points in their first 56 games.

• Tampa Bay is also the first team since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins to have three 70-point scorers before the 60-game mark of the season. 

Remarkably, the NHL’s leading scorer and Hart Trophy favorite Nikita Kucherov is on pace to finish with a whopping 135 points. Even if Kucherov finishes with 101 points, he will have increased his point total every season since entering the league in 2013-14.

Kucherov comes to Philadelphia on a five-game point streak with seven goals and 11 assists, an average of 3.6 points per game.

Projected lineup

Forwards
James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Jake Voracek
Scott Laughton-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Phil Varone-Justin Bailey

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim
Andrew MacDonald-Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hägg-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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Flyers recall Brian Elliott from conditioning assignment with Phantoms

Flyers recall Brian Elliott from conditioning assignment with Phantoms

VOORHEES, N.J. — Brian Elliott will be back in a Flyers sweater for the first time since Nov. 15. 

The 33-year-old goaltender was recalled Tuesday from his conditioning assignment with the Phantoms and is expected to back up Carter Hart for Tuesday’s game against the Lightning.

It will be interesting to see what Elliott’s future in Philadelphia is for the remainder of this season with the addition of Cam Talbot, who wasn’t with his new team for Wednesday’s morning skate in Voorhees.

Elliott could be traded to a contending team with no roster restrictions after the Feb. 25 deadline, although NHL teams still have to be compliant with the salary cap.

Once again, the Flyers have three goaltenders on the active roster with Hart, Elliott and Mike McKenna. McKenna could be placed on waivers as soon as Talbot is cleared to join the team.

Elliott played admirably in his 14 games prior to his injury with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. However, his 6-7-0 record doesn’t reflect that. He appeared in two games for the Phantoms over the weekend.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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