EDMONTON, Alberta — Now that the date has arrived, his first NHL game near where he grew up in Sherwood Park, Flyers goalie Carter Hart can reflect on what it means to play in Edmonton on Wednesday night.
“It’ll be special to have all the people there who have helped me get to where I am,” Hart said. “Without my family and my best friends, coaches and trainers, I wouldn’t [be here]. It’ll be special to have them there and share that moment with them. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Hart is 2-0-1 with a 1.62 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in three games this season. And, so, yes, he’s in a good place.
The rest of the Flyers? Not so much. They looked travel-weary and were second to the puck most of Tuesday night, dropping a listless 3-1 decision in Calgary.
Hart doesn’t think he will have any extra jitters Wednesday just because he will have a slew of family and friends at the game. And he will be going against an Oilers team that employs goalie coach Dustin Schwartz, who works with Hart in the summer.
“I get nervous before every game, but once the game gets going, I settle in and just play,” Hart said.
Hart said his dad, a contract coordinator for an oil company, just learned he has to go out of town, to Regina in Saskatchewan, for work and won’t be able to attend.
“It’s too bad. He got a call at the last minute, and he can’t go to the game,” Hart said. “He’s going to come [to Philly] for a game in November, and then we’ll catch an Eagles game together, so it’ll work out.”
His mom, grandmom, 16-year-old sister, several uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, trainers, and former coaches will be there to watch Hart and the Flyers (2-1-1) try to salvage a win on their three-game trip through Western Canada.
“It’ll be cool,” he said.
Hart, 21, will face an Edmonton team off to a surprising 5-1 start. The Oilers, coming off Monday’s 3-1 loss in Chicago, started the season with five straight comeback wins. They are led by the now-you-see-him-now-you-don’t Connor McDavid (four goals, eight assists), Leon Draisaitl (four goals, eight assists) and James Neal (eight goals).
Neal, acquired from Calgary in July for Milan Lucic and a conditional third-round draft pick in 2020, already has more goals than he scored in the entire 2018-19 season (seven),
Mikko Koskinen (2.41 GAA, .914 save percentage) is expected to be in the nets for the Oilers.
The Flyers are trying to rebound from Tuesday’s listless 3-1 loss in Calgary. Three of their top forwards — veterans Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek and James van Riemsdyk, who had six shots against the Flames — have not scored a goal in the first four games.
In addition to becoming the youngest Flyers goalie to register a shutout, 4-0 over New Jersey, Hart became one of just eight Philadelphia goaltenders to blank an opponent before his 23rd birthday.
The others: Dominic Roussel in 1992; Pete Peeters in 1980; Doug Favell, who did it twice in 1967; Ron Hextall in 1987; Bernie Parent (twice) in 1967; Anthony Stolarz in 2016; and Brian Boucher in 1999. All were 22 when they did it.