Hart stopper: Flyers count on Carter Hart to lead them to Cup

carter hart
Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA — Carter Hart spent his offseason living more like a young adult forced to move back home because of the pandemic rather than a franchise-shifting goalie who could have lived a luxe life anywhere he pleased.

The 22-year-old Hart lived with his parents in Alberta, Canada and he, like many who wanted to ease the stress of prepping three meals a day, subscribed to a meal delivery service.

”Both my parents are working most of the days, so I make my breakfast in the morning, then go and work out and then have a skate after, so I need to have lunch in between,” Hart said. ”Me and my mom would make dinner most nights.”

Hart selected healthy options — mom and dad helped keep him on track — and says he feels ”leaner” and perhaps in the best shape of his career as he starts his third season with the Philadelphia Flyers.

He can leave the cutlery with his folks. Hart is back in Philly with his plate full trying to win the Flyers their first Stanley Cup since consecutive championships in 1974 and 1975.

Promoted in 2018, Hart has shown promise that will be the goalie to fill the positional black hole that for decades has plagued the franchise. He was the first star of the game in his NHL debut and kept rolling from there — including consecutive shutouts last season against Montreal in his first playoff series. He became the youngest goalie in Flyers history with a shutout in Game 3 at 22 years, 3 days and his second one made it the fifth time in NHL history a goalie had back-to-back postseason shutouts before age 23.

”I don’t want to just be another NHL player,” Hart said. ”I want to be the best and I want to be the best NHL goaltender.”

The Flyers can only hope Hart ascends to that spot as best in the league as they enter this shortened season with loftier expectations after a surprising finish as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Alain Vigneault, the martini-drinking, French-speaking, championship-making coach returns for a second season with the pieces in place for a deeper postseason push. The Flyers went 41-21-7 and earned the No. 1 seed in the restart after round-robin play but fell in the second round to the New York Islanders.

LINDBLOM’S RETURN

There may not have been a better story in the NHL last season than Oskar Lindblom‘s return in the postseason from a rare form of bone cancer. The Swede was off to a career season when he diagnosed in December 2019 with Ewing’s sarcoma, a tumor that grows in the bones or in the tissue around bones. He completed radiation treatments July 2 and weeks later signed a $9 million, three-year contract extension. Lindblom had 11 goals and 18 points in 30 games last season. Finished with chemotherapy, Lindblom hopes his hockey career can pick up where it left off.

”I feel more powerful. I feel like I got more energy in my body, too,” he said.

AGE-OLD QUESTION

Flyers captain Claude Giroux bristled at the suggestion age had started to catch up to him as his production waned. Giroux, who played on the 2010 Stanley Cup Final team, is a Flyers lifer and turns 33 on Jan. 13 — opening night. He scored only one goal in 16 playoff games and his point production has declined since a career-best 102 points in 2017-18.

”I’m not worried about my age right now,” Giroux said. ”I think as you get older, you learn what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. You try to adjust and put yourself in a position to succeed.”

BOOM OR BUST

Kevin Hayes, Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov all had fantastic seasons and Sean Couturier won the Selke Trophy for best defensive forward. But if Giroux and Jakub Voracek continue to decline and anything happens to Hart, the Flyers are in trouble.

NEW LOOK

The Flyers pretty much kept their roster in tact, adding only free agents Erik Gustafsson and Derrick Pouliot.

SCHEDULE WATCH

The Flyers open their season at the untraditional time of 5:30 p.m. EST on Jan. 13 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The schedule realignment that adds Boston to a revamped East Division that includes the Capitals, Penguins, Rangers and Islanders will put winning streaks at a premium.

Scroll Down For:

    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
    2 Comments

    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
    0 Comments

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
    0 Comments

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

    Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
    0 Comments

    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.