Flyers goalie Carter Hart took part in a full-team practice Saturday for the first time since he left Tuesday’s intrasquad scrimmage because of apparent back spasms.
Hart, 21, probably the Flyers’ most indispensable player, said he expects to be at 100% when the Flyers restart their season Aug. 2 against Boston in a round-robin tournament in Toronto.
After the Flyers finished the Voorhees portion of Training Camp 2.0 on Saturday, Hart said he felt he would be his old self after playing in Tuesday’s exhibition against Pittsburgh in Toronto. It’s the Flyers’ only tune-up before facing Boston in the the first of three games in the seeding tourney.
“I feel really good right now,” Hart said. “The plan is to be good to go for Tuesday.”
The Flyers haven’t announced their lineup for Tuesday, but Hart might split duties with Brian Elliott.
“It’ll definitely be nice to get that first game in, just getting back into the game mentally,” said Hart, who last played on March 10, a 2-0 loss to Boston that ended the Flyers’ nine-game winning streak. It was the Flyers’ final game because the coronavirus outbreak halted the regular season two days later.
Hart said the Flyers need to use the exhibition and the three round-robin matchups “to help us prepare and to really feel what a playoff game is going to be like come Aug. 11.”
The young goalie “definitely looked real good out there today,” rookie left winger Joel Farabee said. “As a team, we obviously believe in him, all the coaches believe in him, and fans believe in him. He’s such a great goalie. Him and Moose [Brian Elliott] are going to be huge down the stretch for us. They’re a big reason why we won a lot of hockey games this year.”
Hart finished with a 24-13-3 record, a .914 save percentage, and the league’s eighth-best goals-against average (2.42). He was especially effective after returning from a lower-abdominal injury late in the season, going 9-2 with a .934 save percentage in his last 11 appearances.
“Hartsy is definitely one of the young guys, but he’s definitely a leader in a way, too,” Farabee said. “We rely on him a lot.”
Even though Hart has never played in an NHL playoff game, the Flyers are unconcerned, based on his work ethic and his strong regular season.
“He gets it. He’ll be ready,” defenseman Justin Braun said. “He’s dialed in on his game. ... and when he’s dialed in, he’s one of the best in the league. It’s been fun playing in front of him. When you need that big save, you saw that lateral movement” to make a key stop. “You need that every once in a while, especially in the playoffs.”
Hart, who turns 22 on Aug. 13, could become the youngest goaltender in Flyers history to win a Stanley Cup playoff game. The youngest is Pete Peeters, who was 22 years, 235 days when he won a 1980 playoff game.