Hart: ‘I Want to Be the Best’
From the day he stepped onto the ice at Wells Fargo Center for his NHL debut, Carter Hart has drawn all the attention. When you ride into town as the anointed savior of goaltending in a city so starved for a cornerstone at the position, it’s really no surprise how quickly Hart was embraced.
He came in, he succeeded right away and he showed the chops needed to make it at the most difficult position in the game.
That doesn’t mean Hart is completely satisfied with how the first two seasons of his NHL career have gone. He’s been playing with regularity, dubbed the Flyers’ No. 1 goaltender quickly after making the rise to the NHL. After completing his rookie season, staying with the Flyers following his December 2018 call-up, he followed it up with an excellent first full season in the NHL.
In 43 games, 40 of them starts, Hart had a 24-13-3 record with a 2.42 GAA and .914 save percentage. In his first playoff appearance, he appeared in 14 games, going 9-5 with a 2.23 GAA, a .926 save percentage and two shutouts. It seems like at every turn, there is another piece of history Hart is ready to conquer at such a young age.
But Hart has always held himself accountable and sets his own expectations high. He expects to make the saves that look so difficult with ease. He studies the game with detail, focusing on how he can be as positionally sound as possible. It is what makes him driven to keep reaching new heights.
“I want to be the best I can be. I want to be able to give our team a chance to win every night and for me, this will be my third, I guess kind of third year in the league. I don’t want to just be another NHL player; I want to be the best and I want to be the best NHL goaltender,” Hart said following Monday's opening practice of training camp. “That is something that I strive for every day. For me, for myself and our team, we have a really good group again this year and I think we have to buy in and compete and we will have some success.”
Hart’s early playoff success came in the form of two wins in the Round Robin, then helping the Flyers claim a series win over the Montreal Canadiens in the first round, besting his childhood idol Carey Price. In that series, he allowed three total goals in the four games the Flyers won. He allowed four goals in each of the two losses in the series.
Against the Islanders, his numbers weren’t as kind. He allowed at least three goals in each game.
Four years ago on Tuesday, Hart was on the losing end of a shootout in the Gold Medal Game at the World Junior Championships to the US. A year later, Hart bounced back to help lead Canada to gold. Hart carries those moments on his shoulders and dedicates himself to continuing to make progress.
This offseason, Hart looked ahead to what this shortened season was going to be and made preparations to be fresher as the year began.
“We knew it was going to be a condensed schedule this year. That’s why I didn’t touch the ice until Nov. 3. So, I took about almost two months off the ice there,” Hart said. “I made a decision with my goalie coach here that it was best I take a little bit more time off the ice to get my body some more rest. I felt more fresh coming into the start of my offseason on the ice just for preparation and what will be a condensed schedule. I think now, more than ever, obviously it is always important, but now taking care of your body off the ice is going to be more crucial in a shortened season.”
Just about everything Hart does off the ice is music to the ears of Flyers fans everywhere. He’s got such a great understanding of the game. He’s so insanely determined to succeed and carries a quiet confidence in his abilities. The way he prepares positions himself for success.
On the ice, there is still room for Hart to grow, as he mentioned in just his third season in the league. At 22 years old, this is only the beginning of his career. There are more chapters to be written.
With lofty goals in his sights, Hart has the makeup to be the goalie to lead the Flyers to the promised land. His determination and ability makes that so. He is the game-changing goalie the Flyers have needed for decades. Now that they have him, a netminder who desires to be the best at the position in the game today, it’s up to the Flyers to build around him and be a successful unit.