Let me start out by saying that I absolutely LOVE the Philadelphia Flyers. L.O.V.E.
There’s nothing better than the Flyers Universe when things are going great, but the second there’s a loss or a poor series of games or even plays, then look out because “The Sky is Falling”!
In the team’s last 2 games the Flyers only picked up 1 out of a possible 4 points in back-to-back games against the Boston Bruins. And yes, admittedly, the team didn’t play its best hockey. They were lackluster performances, to say the least. If you’re on social media like most of us, then you saw the complete outrage from the Flyers Universe. I found it funny that much of the outcry didn’t mention that one of their best forwards and leaders, reigning Selke trophy winner Sean Couturier is injured and did not play. Nor did most not mention that one of the Flyers’ top 3 defensemen, Phil Myers was also sidelined due to injuries.
Let me tell you right now, no team in the NHL can lose a top 3 defensemen, and it’s top forward and not skip a beat… NONE. For whatever reason, a ton of blame came down on 22-year-old goaltending phenom Carter Hart. Particularly in game 1 against the Bruins, Hart made a ton of incredible saves. If it wasn’t for Hart, the Bruins would have scored 10 to 12 goals that night. Instead, Hart kept the Flyers in the game and ultimately salvaging 1 point with a shootout loss. The Flyers gave up a 2-goal lead and dominated that 3-on-3 overtime period but just couldn’t get 1 past Rask.
The Flyers missed many odd-man rushes, 2-on-1’s, partial breakaways and the powerplay somehow turned to mush. Yet many criticized Hart instead. He allowed 5 goals in that game, none of which ANY goalie could have stopped
So, it got me thinking, where exactly is Hart in his development? Who can we compare him to that had a very similar situation to overcome?
The answer is simple, and you don’t have to look any further than to Carter Hart’s idol, Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.
Carey Price started his NHL career for the Montreal Canadiens in 2007-2008 after being drafted in the 2005 entry draft, 5th overall. Roughly the same age as Hart was when he was called up to the NHL Flyers. In his first 2 seasons in the NHL, Price played a total of 93 games for the Canadiens. Hart played in 74 games, slightly lower than Price, but that is because he was a late November call up & the 2019-20 season was cut short due to Covid-19, but basically they were at the same place in their careers at this point and time.
Today Carey Price is a seriously accomplished goaltender, but please remember clearly here: In 2010 Carey Price’s 3rd season, which is exactly where Cather Hart is right now, there was turmoil for Price.
He had a so-so season in his 41 games played. Just like Hart, Carey Price had a “breaking his stick in frustration” incident. The Canadiens squeaked into the playoffs as the number 8 seed that season, just behind the Flyers. Price was quickly replaced by Jaroslav Halak as the starter in the playoffs and the Canadiens went on a run. They eliminated the Penguins and Capitals in 7 games, before being eliminated by the Flyers in the Eastern Conference finals. That started the chaos. Fans in Montreal were split between those who wanted to stay the course with Price and others who wanted him gone in favor of Halak. Management did the right thing and traded Halak to the St. Louis Blues that offseason as a show of confidence to Price.
Price’s career took off from there, where he’s been good, real good for the Canadiens, winning a Hart, Vezina, and Jennings trophies and making multiple all-star games. Meanwhile, Halak has been nothing but a backup. The importance of the Canadiens sticking to its “goalie of the future” left the franchise in the great hands of Carey Price, instead of being in a position of trying to find a starting goaltender when Halak faltered and watching Price succeed elsewhere.
So please, stop the hate after a bad game.
Trying to run Hart out of town by beating him down after a loss is ridiculous. He’s 22 years old. It’s a team sport and Hart has been really good this season in front of a team that hasn’t played anywhere near its potential. But running Hart out of town, when he’s being left out to dry by his teammates, is not the thing to do. Hart has all the potential in the world and at the age of 22, he’s already earned the right to the benefit of the doubt by the fans. The Flyers have to do what the Canadiens did with Carey Price and stay the course with Hart.
Hart will win Vezina trophies and have all-star appearances. He does have one up on his idol already, as Hart eliminated Price in last season’s playoffs.
Carter Hart will bring Stanley Cup celebrations to the city of brotherly love in the not too distant future…
Featured Image: TSN