Flyers

Flyers

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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