This has been quite a strange season for the Philadelphia Flyers.
The club has already fired their general manager, coach, and have used seven goaltenders this season. In fact, they were even last in the league at one point.
It was easy to see why this was the case. They were not winning hockey games, had awful defense and goaltending, and looked like a franchise that was trying to think about what direction they were going to go in the future.
While the latter might still be the case, it appears that the Flyers are climbing out of their season-long funk. They’ve been so good as of late that they can actually see a wild card spot at the end of the tunnel.
The team is seven points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team that currently holds the second wild card spot. After being the worst team in the league, the team is currently .500 (23-23-6) for the season, which is amazing considering where they were at one point this year.
The main reason why this team has won seven straight gamesis because of the play of their 20-year-old- rookie goaltender Carter Hart. His strong play between the pipes is showing that when given the chance to do so, he could snap the Flyers’ history of not having the right guy between the pipes.
Hart, the rookie of the month in January, is currently 9-5-1 with a 2.58 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. For someone on a weak defensive team, these numbers are outstanding.
Hart is playing like a veteran. He’s playing composed, playing with confidence, is stopping pucks, and is keeping things really simple, which is extremely important for a young NHL masked man.
In his last five games, all wins, he has not had a save percentage below .909 save percentage. Here are his stats in his club;s last five games:
– Stopped 40 of 44 shots against the Edmonton Oilers (four goals allowed)
– Stopped 23 of 25 shots against the Boston Bruins (two goals allowed)
– Stopped 31 of 32 shots against the Winnipeg Jets (one goal allowed)
– Stopped 33 of 35 shots against the Montreal Canadiens (two goals against)
– Stopped 39 of 42 shots against the Boston Bruins (three goals against)
As you can see above, his strong performances have come against some pretty good hockey teams. With the exception of the Oilers, all these clubs currently hold a playoff spot.
Hart is also in some pretty good company when it comes to being a young goaltender winning at least five straight games. The last 20-year-old netminder to do that was Carey Price to do that 2008.
The Flyers have needed someone like Hart for decades. It can be said that this team hasn’t had a true number one goaltender since the days of Ron Hextall, which was obviously a very long time ago.
With Hart, not only has he shown that he is their goaltender of the present, but that he should be their guy of the future and beyond.
*Photo: NBC Sports Philadelphia