Goalie Carter Hart will make his NHL debut Tuesday when the Flyers host the Detroit Red Wings.
Regarded as the Flyers' goalie of the future, the 20-year-old Hart was promoted from the AHL’s Phantoms on Monday. He was 4-1 with a 1.80 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in his last five appearances with Lehigh Valley.
Unofficially, he will be the second-youngest goalie to play for the Flyers. Maxime Ouelett was 19.
“We’re all excited for him and want to put on a good showing in front of him," center Scott Laughton said.
This will be Scott Gordon’s debut as the Flyers' coach. He was named on an interim basis Monday, replacing Dave Hakstol.
Gordon coached Hart at Lehigh Valley this season. Last month, Gordon had a conversation with then-Flyers GM Ron Hextall and told him Hart was not ready to play in the NHL.
“Hexy called me about Carter and asked me what my thoughts were,” Gordon said after running the Flyers' morning skate Tuesday in Voorhees. “I couldn’t confidently say that now would be the right time if it was a must situation [to recall him]. Since that time, he’s played five games and every game he’s gotten better. The deficiencies in his game have improved, and I think he’s really starting to become a pro.
“I don’t know if this is the right time or not. Who knows?” Gordon added. “But I know from the way he’s performed the last five games that he’s a better goalie than he was prior to that.”
The Flyers' expected lineup Tuesday:
· Nolan Patrick, who has one point in his last 14 games, centering Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny.
· Sean Couturier centering Wayne Simmonds and Jake Voracek.
· Laughton centering James van Riemsdyk and Michael Raffl.
· Phil Varone centering Oskar Lindblom and Dale Weise.
Defense: Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov; Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg; and Andrew MacDonald and Radko Gudas.
Seven players in the projected starting lineup played for Gordon with the Phantoms: Laughton, Varone, Lindblom, Sanheim, Gostisbehere, Hagg and Hart.
The Flyers (12-15-4), who are eight points out of a playoff spot, are trying to end a four-game losing streak.
Detroit (14-15-5) will be without four injured players: defensemen Mike Green and Danny DeKeyser, and forwards Darren Helm and Anthony Mantha.
Gordon said he will “chip away” at making changes to the Flyers' systems. “I think the biggest thing is to not to have too much thinking going on while they’re playing. Have a clear head,” he said. “Obviously you don’t have a lot of practice time, and that makes it harder. We just have to figure out after the game tonight and take a good look at what maybe we can be better at. It’s hard when you’re watching on TV or up in the pressbox. When you’re on the bench and up close to it, it has a completely different feel.”
Gordon directed the Phantoms' penalty kill, which is second in the AHL as it has clicked at 86.4 percent. The Flyers' PK is 30th in the 31-team NHL (73.5 percent).
Gordon noted that the Flyers' PK was “better in four of the last five games, I think, so to come in here with no practice time” makes it difficult to make major changes right away.
Some of the things he did with the Phantoms, Gordon said. are “a little bit different than what [the Flyers are] used to.”
For that reason, he will ease in the changes.
“It will also help that there are some players here who have done our penalty kill, but at the same time, there are a lot of players who haven’t,” he said. “I don’t want to just throw that in without the appropriate amount of practice time.”
The Phantoms' power play was third in the AHL (21.3 percent success rate), while the Flyers' PP is 29th in the NHL, connecting just 12.9 percent of the time and going 1 for 25 in the last 11 games.
In time, changes are coming to the PP units as well.