Flyers

Is Flyers' Carter Hart entering Calder Trophy conversation?

Is Flyers' Carter Hart entering Calder Trophy conversation?

If he continues to keep this up, the Calder Trophy may be Carter Hart’s trophy by the end of the season.

Of course there are still two months remaining in the regular season and Hart likely wouldn’t be one of three finalists for the NHL’s top rookie if the voting was held today, but the 20-year-old goaltender is making a remarkably strong push heading down the stretch run.

Hart has made hockey fun again, not just for the teammates he now shares a locker room with, but also for an entire city that was starting to look at this Flyers team as an afterthought this season.

“I don’t want to say you’re expecting him to fail, but you just find it hard to believe that somebody his age can come in and do what he’s been able to do so far,” Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said Monday night after a 2-1 win over the Canucks (see observations).

Hart has been the Flyers' catalyst during an impressive eight-game winning streak.

The rookie has proceeded to rip off seven straight wins, a feat no goaltender under the age of 21 has accomplished since Carey Price in 2008. If Hart wins his next start (likely Saturday’s game against the Ducks), he’ll match the standard established by Quebec’s Jocelyn Thibault 24 years ago.

On the same day Hart was recognized as the NHL’s second star of the week, he immediately began working on this week’s honors with a season-high 41-save performance Monday (see highlights).

“He’s been remarkable,” Sean Couturier said. “That save at the end — he’s making some miracles out there. It’s nice to have him back there, you know he can steal one.”

It was the save on Nikolay Goldobin during Vancouver’s third-period power play that fans were left talking about on their commute home, and a save that preserved another one-goal win.

“I got a front-row seat to that,” Scott Laughton said. “He dove over there and made a great save and he just gives us life and makes a big save when we need it.” 

Hart upstaged the Calder Trophy front-runner Elias Pettersson, holding Vancouver’s 20-year-old sniper off the scoresheet, while improving his overall record to 10-5-1. Hart’s 471 saves in his first 16 NHL starts are more than any other goaltender since his call-up from Lehigh Valley on Dec. 18.

Three years ago, it was a "Ghost" who took the NHL by storm, lifting the Flyers' spirits following a dismal start to the season. Shayne Gostisbehere set an NHL record for a rookie defenseman with a 15-game point streak, and his spark carried the Flyers into the postseason as he eventually finished second in Calder voting to Chicago’s Artemi Panarin.

Hart is having that same affect, and light years ahead of where you’d expect a typical 20-year-old rookie.

“He’s a humble guy,” Jakub Voracek said. “Comes to work every day and he’s giving us a chance to win the game every single night — and that’s what you want from a goalie. He’s playing like he’s 28 years old.”

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Flyers to play in NHL Global Series, open 2019-20 regular season in Prague

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USA Today Images

Flyers to play in NHL Global Series, open 2019-20 regular season in Prague

CHICAGO — Hockey fans, this is the road trip you’ve been waiting for.

The Flyers will play outside North America for the first time in their 52-year existence.

The team will wrap up its 2019 training camp in Lausanne, Switzerland, with an exhibition game against Lausanne HC on Monday, Sept. 30. 

From there, the Flyers will embark some 565 miles to Prague, Czech Republic, where they will face the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 4 at O2 Arena for the 2019-20 regular-season opener.

It’s a chance for Czech natives Jakub Voracek and Radko Gudas, who both grew up in the Prague suburb of Kladno, to play a game in their home country.   

“Obviously, it’s something that as a kid you don’t think it’s possible,” Voracek said in a statement released by the team Thursday. “I think it’s great for us to see all the friends and family being able to attend an NHL game you can participate in. It’ll be special. It’s going to be exciting. I think everyone’s pretty pumped up for Prague.”

The city of Prague is featured in this month’s edition of Money Magazine as one of the top 10 international destinations to visit.

The average round-trip airfare is just under $1,000, while the cost of a week for two people will run around $3,500.

Switzerland and the Czech Republic are not the only international stops for the NHL this season. 

The Blackhawks will play a preseason game in Berlin, Germany, with the Lightning and Sabres playing a regular-season game in November in Stockholm, Sweden.

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The players have spoken: Gritty is NHL's top mascot by a landslide

The players have spoken: Gritty is NHL's top mascot by a landslide

VOORHEES, N.J. — Gritty for 2020!

Put the big orange fella on a ballot and the victory is likely a landslide.

Just recently the NHL polled over 500 current players around the league on a number of topics, including the best NHL team mascot, and the vote wasn’t remotely close. Gritty snagged nearly 70 percent of the votes. The next-closest mascot was the Maple Leafs' Carlton the Bear receiving just 2.7 percent of the vote.  

Consider it poetic justice for Gritty.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux was also mentioned as one of the league's best trash talkers, finishing fourth among the players with 4.8 percent of the votes. Boston’s Brad Marchand was the top trash talker receiving 21.3 percent of the votes.

Interestingly, Marchand was also recognized as the game’s worst trash talker, to which he gave thanks on Twitter.

Edmonton’s Connor McDavid was named the best forward, Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman took the nod as top defenseman and Montreal’s Carey Price was the league’s top goaltender.

Here’s a look at some of the other poll results: 

• Who is the most underrated player? Aleksander Barkov, Florida

• Who would make the best TV analyst once they retire? P.K. Subban, Nashville

• Who would make the best NHL GM once they retire? Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh

• Who is the funniest player? Keith Yandle, Florida

• Which arena has the best atmosphere? T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas

• Which arena has the best ice? Bell Centre in Montreal

• Who is the best dressed player? Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

• Who has the best hair in the league? Erik Karlsson, San Jose

• Who is your favorite athlete outside of hockey? Tiger Woods

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