Kevin Hayes said the Flyers have Carter Hart's back.
There's no questioning that.
During games, there might as well be a "beware of protective Flyers" sign next to Hart's net. If any of the opposition lays a finger on the 22-year-old goalie or even goes near him at the end of a play, there's a pack of inhospitable Flyers surrounding the crease.
But that doesn't mean the Flyers won't poke fun at their youngster in net.
"He’s still the same kid off the ice, that innocent kid that everybody's making fun of, so that’s a good sign," Jakub Voracek, who has looked out for Hart, said last July. "If you’re getting made fun of, that means people like you. It’s a good thing."
With the dust settled from the team's forgettable two-game trip to Boston, which resulted in Hart's frustrations boiling over following last Saturday's 6-1 loss to the Bruins, the Flyers weren't going to totally forget it.
The typically stoic and harmless Hart took out his frustrations by slamming his goalie stick over the net multiple times until it snapped. The Flyers had his back after the game and on Monday as they reconvened for practice.
"I think that just kind of poured over to the end of the game," Brian Elliott said about his goalie partner. "It’s just getting back to work and try to just be a sounding board and almost laugh it off sometimes."
So the Flyers on Monday had some playful chirping for Hart.
"Guys are joking about him, seeing how many sticks he’s got left on the stick rack and stuff like that," Elliott said. "I think that helps, just kind of take that pressure off and start a new page, turn the page for a positive next one.
“I’m sure he’s seen me hit the post a couple of times with my stick in practice. But it’s something you go through, there’s going to be rough patches in any career. You have to go through the ups and downs, managing it well and managing it poorly. I think he came out and said that’s not how he wants to portray himself or professionally. You have to go through it, everybody has been through it, no matter what goalie in this league in history. The guys know that his heart’s in the right place and he wants to do the best job possible."
Elliott will start in net Tuesday when the Flyers play the Devils in Newark, New Jersey. The Flyers practiced at 11:30 a.m. ET Monday. Hart, along with Hayes, Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim, stayed on the ice for extra work until 1 p.m. ET.
Claude Giroux said he could relate to Hart's frustration. The captain's message to his goalie was simple.
“Just believe in yourself," Giroux said. "He’s a great player, we haven’t been playing great in front of him. A lot of guys were frustrated, I was frustrated also — I almost joined him in smashing my stick, too. Frustration, sometimes it’s good to let it out, but we just have to move forward here and keep working as a group.”
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