Flyers' turmoil won't hinder Carter Hart's development

Flyers' turmoil won't hinder Carter Hart's development

For a lot of 20-year-olds, the environment would eat them up.

Carter Hart isn't your average 20-year-old.

He's precocious and together. He's different, the exact reason why he's here already and performing for the Flyers.

So why worry and send him away?

The Flyers are losing at a perturbing clip with performances that aren't exactly conducive for goalie success. A winless skid has ballooned to eight games, patience is being tested and frustrations are growing, possibly boiling into more drastic change (see story).

With the Feb. 25 trade deadline getting closer and closer, the Flyers entered Wednesday 30th among 31 NHL teams at 15-22-6 and 36 points. The club is allowing the league's second-most goals per game (3.63), owns a minus-37 goal differential and has been outscored 96-61 since Nov. 13, a stretch in which the Flyers are 6-15-5.

But Hart is the one who actually breathed some life into the Flyers. The team has won consecutive games just once since Nov. 13 and it happened in Hart's first and second career starts. His record is starting to take a hit at 2-4-1 as the Flyers haven't helped him much offensively, but he has played well enough in all but one game.

If his play has been fine, then the concern is the other factors — losing, frustration, etc. — possibly becoming a detriment to the development of Hart, deemed the franchise's future in net.

During a May 2018 phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia, Garry Davidson, the general manager of Hart's junior team the Everett Silvertips, described Hart in a way perfectly applicable to the current situation.

People that haven't met him and don't work with him day in and day out just see what he does on the ice, but for me it's that whole maturity and professionalism that he's already completely grasped. Because there are guys his age that are going to be going to the pro game that are going to have to learn all of those things and some of them will never learn it and will come up short. But he's got that already going for him.

There's been no sense of the Flyers' adverse setting becoming too much for the 2016 second-round pick in his first year of professional hockey.

"I think as long as he's playing well, I don't think that should bother him," Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said. "Obviously he's thrilled about the opportunity."

Hart prepares the same way through highs and lows. He keeps everything in perspective. He makes adjustments. Working with a sports psychologist since he was a teenager has helped him always see positives.

Following a 3-0 loss Monday in which Hart could hold off the Blues for only so long, the rookie said he doesn't feel like he has to be perfect through the Flyers' struggles.

"I'm not really thinking it like that," Hart said.

"A lot of these games here, we're one or two steps [from it] going our way … we're not far off. I know it doesn’t look like that, but if you look at our most recent games, we're not far off. There are some games where we definitely deserved better fates and I think we just have to keep working, stick to our game and just compete."

Hart will continue to do that. He should be here until he shows us he can't.

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Kevin Hayes: Flyers' Sean Couturier is 'an elite center in this league'

Kevin Hayes: Flyers' Sean Couturier is 'an elite center in this league'

Kevin Hayes knows what it's like to have a plate full of responsibilities on the ice.

He's a 6-foot-5 center who changes the game defensively and on the penalty kill. The 27-year-old is poised for his biggest offensive role yet, so versatility will be one of Hayes' most impactful qualities with the Flyers.

But not many have done it like Sean Couturier over the past two seasons.

While the 26-year-old was left off the NHL Network's list of top-20 centers this offseason, a player like Hayes can appreciate a player like Couturier.

Sean's an elite center in this league," Hayes said this month in a sit-down interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia's Taryn Hatcher and Derek Souders. "His stats speak for themselves, but I think he's a little bit underrated. He's one of the toughest guys to play against, he plays on the top line and he plays against the other teams' top line. There are not a lot of centers that do that in this league, there are probably a handful of them.

I do believe he should have been on the top-20 centers, for sure. He's very underrated and maybe because of his style of play, he doesn't get appreciated as much as the flashy centers. I'm not sure if that's a big deal for him.

Ideally, Hayes' similar do-it-all characteristics can help alleviate the burden on Couturier's shoulders. Over the past two seasons, Couturier ranks first on the Flyers in goals (64), game-winning goals (11), faceoffs taken (2,324) and shorthanded faceoffs won (158), and second in points (152), power play goals (15), ice time per game (21:51), shorthanded ice time (340:04) and plus-minus (plus-36).

Along with Claude Giroux, Couturier does a ton for the Flyers.

"I'm excited to be a one-two punch with him," Hayes said.

For more from Hayes on why he was sold on the Flyers, his expectations and the rivalry with the Rangers, watch the "Break the Ice" video above.

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Morgan Frost's injury impacts Flyers' 2019-20 roster decisions

Morgan Frost's injury impacts Flyers' 2019-20 roster decisions

Morgan Frost played only one preseason game last year before being sent back to his junior club the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

This year, the playmaking prospect was looking forward to a real shot to showcase himself for a bid at the Flyers' roster. Turns out, he played only one more game than he did the previous preseason. Frost has a groin strain and will be out five to seven days. He missed the team's first two preseason games dealing with the groin issue.

"Definitely wanted to play, but at the same time, I want to stay healthy, that's definitely important," Frost said after missing the opening two games. "Make sure I'm 100 percent when I go into a game so I can show my best and prove that I can make the team."

The Flyers play exhibition games Monday and Thursday night before flying out to Switzerland Friday ahead of their final preseason contest next Monday.

With that, Frost's preseason is more than likely over.

The 20-year-old didn't look out of place during training camp and two exhibition games. He was challenged on Day 2 and showed some nice things in game action. He exhibited his skill and improved strength on the puck, along with a good forecheck.

However, he was held off the score sheet. Turning pro this season and with an injury to Nolan Patrick, Frost was vying for a job in the Flyers' bottom six. At this point, though, it would be surprising to see him make the big club's roster. Production would have forced the hand of the front office and coaching staff, but Frost was limited to two games and couldn't generate points in his short audition.

The Flyers have plenty of candidates still pushing for the vacancies at forward, including German Rubtsov, Carsen Twarynski, Joel Farabee, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Andy Andreoff, Chris Stewart and Mikhail Vorobyev.

It's a tough blow for Frost, but his health is most important. It's not like the Flyers don't know what Frost can do. It's very possible, though, Frost and Farabee will open the 2019-20 season with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Farabee, who is scoreless through three games, shouldn’t be counted out. He might get one more game Thursday at Madison Square Garden. An impressive performance from the 19-year-old winger will make the decision harder. His game can play up and down the lineup, so if he's not scoring, it's not a deal-breaker.

"I don't think we're at that decision-making point," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Saturday. "We still have a few games before we leave for Europe. But those two young men, you can tell there's a tremendous amount of potential and upside, smarts to their game. We have a lot to work with there. It's just a matter of doing what's right for the team and that's what we're going to do here when we make the final decisions."

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