Flyers film review: Carter Hart steadies the crease in NHL debut

Flyers film review: Carter Hart steadies the crease in NHL debut

Carter Hart didn't do anything extraordinary Tuesday night. He didn't turn water into wine. He didn't stand on his head in his NHL debut.

Hart did what he's been doing since he was 8, stopping pucks, and he did so calmly and as if he belonged. It was a steadying performance from Hart for several reasons. He didn't look overwhelmed and the Flyers looked comfortable with him between the pipes. He made 20 saves and ended the Flyers' four-game losing streak in a 3-2 win over the Red Wings.

In doing so, Hart became the youngest goalie in franchise history at 20 years and 127 days to win his NHL debut, the fifth-youngest NHL goalie since 1996-97 and the youngest since Carey Price (20 years, 55 days), a goalie that Hart has long tried to emulate.

"He made some saves to motivate us," Claude Giroux said, "but for a 20-year-old goalie, it's pretty impressive how calm he is in there. I know it's only one game, but he was solid out there."

It was only one game. It was against a Detroit team that doesn't score — 2.80 goals per game, 23rd in the NHL. The Flyers defended well and didn't allow high-danger chances.

All of this is true. But Hart made the saves he needed to make and was a calming force in a net that desperately needed it. Shayne Gostisbehere said Hart gave the Flyers "a jolt."

That often happens in these cases, and it happened with Hart. We'll know more about whether Hart's ready to swim perhaps as early as Thursday against the Predators.

Let's take a look at the film to further break down Hart's Flyers debut.

Point-blank range

Both Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon and Gostisbehere highlighted this save as one that stood out most. It doesn't look like much, but Hart squared up the Red Wings' best player, Dylan Larkin, alone in space and got the knob of his stick on the puck.

Some context as for why this simple-looking save meant so much for the Flyers. It came on the penalty kill and it came after Radko Gudas failed to clear the puck along the sideboards. Thomas Vanek quickly whipped the puck to Larkin. Which led to this:

That's Larkin in space with Ivan Provorov the lone defender. Remember, Provorov has to account for Gustav Nyquist. It was virtually a 1-on-1 scenario with Detroit's leading scorer. Hart positioned himself well, made the save and kept the game scoreless.

Simple but smooth, and it's something this team has lacked this season.

"He made a big, timely save on Larkin," Gostisbehere said. "It hit his knob or something, but a save is a save and I think it's good for his confidence and whatever happens, happens."

Hart's first goal allowed

After a largely untested first period, Hart surrendered his first NHL goal shorthanded with 15:49 left in the second period on a Dennis Cholowski shot he almost had no chance on. 

Vanek was left all alone in front of Hart and set up shop. The veteran winger did an excellent job obstructing Hart's view and causing the 20-year-old to lose track of the puck.

By the time the puck got to Cholowski, Hart had already lost sight of it. Hart tried to locate it, moving to the left and looking past Vanek. The problem was, Cholowski had already fired his wrist shot.

There really wasn't much Hart could have done on this one.

Hart's toughest test

The most difficult stretch Hart faced Tuesday night came in the waning seconds of the second period when the Red Wings were swarming. Detroit applied pressure in the period's final 30 seconds and Hart faced two high-danger challenges from Nyquist.

The first came with about 22 seconds left:

Hart made the pad save but left a juicy rebound in the slot. Not great but his recovery was solid and he got himself in position for the next wave. Giroux blocked a Larkin shot, which relieved some pressure.

The second stop came with 14 seconds left when Nyquist fired a shot in the faceoff circle with traffic around Hart.

Hart did a really nice job making the stop and staying calm with the puck still loose. Much better rebound control on this one.

The Flyers survived the period largely because of the calmness Hart displayed in a high-pressure situation.

“He’s got ice in his veins if you watch him out there,” James van Riemsdyk said.

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Flyers brought back to earth by Coyotes, suffer a first since Oct. 19

Flyers brought back to earth by Coyotes, suffer a first since Oct. 19


Despite putting up 21 goals over their five-game winning streak, the Flyers had a propensity to score them in bunches when an opponent started derailing.

On Thursday night, the Flyers never got going and were pulled back to earth in a 3-1 loss to the Coyotes at the Wells Fargo Center.

Arizona goalie Darcy Kuemper was the biggest difference. The 6-foot-5 netminder who brought an NHL-best 1.97 goals-against average and .936 save percentage to Philly stopped 28 shots.

With 4:43 left, Matt Niskanen scored the Flyers' lone goal and it ricocheted off a Coyote. Arizona iced the game with an empty-netter (see highlights).

The Flyers (16-8-5) suffered just their second regulation loss at home (9-2-4). The last time they failed to pick up a point at home was Oct. 19 when they lost to the Stars, 4-1.

Thursday night's defeat halted the Flyers' winning streak at five games and their point streak at seven. The Flyers had earned at least a point in 18 of their previous 22 games.

The Coyotes (17-9-4), who were allowing the NHL's second-fewest goals per game at 2.31, improved to 10-3-3 on the road.

• The Flyers went on two power plays in the final six minutes of the second period but could not solve Kuemper.

During those two man advantage opportunities, the Flyers put five shots on Kuemper and also misfired three times.

James van Riemsdyk found Morgan Frost with a slick backhanded pass from behind the net but the 20-year-old missed wide.

• Speaking of Frost, he had a tough game. The rookie had a turnover and some difficulty making plays.

He has gone scoreless over his last seven games following his loud start in which he scored three points in his first two games.

Maybe head coach Alain Vigneault takes him off the first line to relieve some pressure.

"Young player, in my estimation, has got a lot of confidence in himself, which is real good," Vigneault said postgame. "Tonight, there were a couple of plays with the puck, like some of our other guys, that the execution might have been a little bit off. But I think overall, the young man is working hard and trying to get better."

Will he stay on the top line?

"I'm going to watch the game and make [changes], if I have some changes to make, [Friday]," Vigneault said. "I like what the young man can bring to the game."

• Vigneault opted to play seven defensemen instead of slotting call-up Mikhail Vorobyev in at fourth-line center.

It's not a bad approach when you have seven healthy blueliners playing well. It also could mean the Flyers aren't ready to trust Vorobyev on the fourth line again.

The Senators game on Saturday looks like a better matchup for Vorobyev, who is in his fifth stint with the club since the start of last season.

• Brian Elliott hadn't lost in regulation since Oct. 29. The Flyers' backup goalie finished with 15 saves.

He allowed a first-period power play goal to Phil Kessel after Claude Giroux was whistled for a ticky-tacky slashing penalty. He then yielded a backbreaking third-period goal to Conor Garland with 7:03 left in the game.

The goalie was not the problem, though.

Sean Couturier was not a problem, either.

• The Flyers wrap up their three-game homestand Saturday when they welcome the Senators (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Next week, the team opens a three-game road trip, which features matchups with the Avalanche on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN), the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and the Jets on Sunday (5 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).


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The 13 Philly-inspired ornaments you need this year

The 13 Philly-inspired ornaments you need this year

If you live in Philadelphia or the surrounding area, it's safe to say there's at least one ornament on your tree representing the city — whether it be a memento from a previous championship Philly has seen, famous landmarks or even the skyline, you're repping one way or another.

Throw everything you thought you knew about Philly ornaments out the window and make way for Jawnaments ... yes, you read that correctly.

Jawnaments. I swear, there is no place like Philadelphia.

Jawnaments is an Etsy shop that has been around since 2017 but they recently released a ton of non-traditional Philadelphia-inspired ornaments. And they're a thing of beauty.

Can you only function throughout the week because of the daily coffee you grab at Wawa and want to highlight that on your tree this year? They've got you covered.

Haven't received a parking ticket in the city in a while and just miss the stress and anxiety they bring with them? Yup, they've got that covered too.

The Tastykake Krimpet and Kandy Kake ornaments look good enough to eat ... even a classic soft pretzel with yellow mustard is an option.

And since Gritty is just about everywhere in the world ... it he. On an ornament. Oh sorry, *Jawnament.

Trust me, there are a ton of other options but you're just going to have to check out the full shop to see the beauty of it all.

You might even have to get a mini tree that's dedicated to the city you know and love. Heck, keep it up all year!

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