PHILADELPHIA – This is rapidly becoming a lost season for the Flyers, with possibly one exception.
Circumstances are giving 20-year-old rookie Carter Hart a chance to prove himself with a new challenge every game.
The Flyers are winless in their last six contests, some of them excrutiating losses. But one doesn’t sense any give-up in Hart.
Take Saturday afternoon’s 3-2 overtime loss to the powerhouse Calgary Flames.
Even though his team’s defense let him down twice – on Matt Tkachuk’s tying goal with just over four minutes left in regulation time and then T.J. Brodie’s winner at 1:59 of OT, Hart was still upbeat with his post-game locker room comments.
First, he praised the work of the two lines (those of Scott Laughton and Sean Couturier), who did a pretty good job of checking on Calgary’s super line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm.
“We did a good job of limiting their chances,’’ Hart said. “We shut them down (Gaudreau did have one goal) for most of the night.
“I thought we battled really hard, the guys really wanted to win. It’s tough when you come off with a result like that.’’
Hart got lifted early after giving up three goals in a 3-1 New Year’s Eve loss at Carolina, so this was a nice bounce-back effort.
“I just felt comfortable (against the Flames),’’ he said. “I wasn’t overthinking things. I just stuck to my game.
“After that (Carolina game) happened, you just put it behind you the next day and you move on.’’
Hart said he believed he should have stopped Tkachuk’s tying goal. But considering he stopped 29 of 32 shots, including overtime, that’s not too bad day’s work.
He played a lot down in Allentown and if Michal Neuvirth is sidelined for any appreciable length of time, Hart figures to get a lot of work in the weeks ahead.
“I’m used to it,’’ he said. “It’s nothing that I haven’t been familiar with before. I’d rather play every game than every second game.’’
Veteran Dale Weise has been around the block more than a few times. In fact he’s played in 477 NHL games, so he knows what he’s talking about.
The Flyers’ inability to close games is no big mystery. They seem to have lapses in concentration.
Weise takes umbrage with the notion that the Flyers just keep getting bad bounces or bad breaks. He says good teams make plays that can create the favorable bounces.
“We did a good job, it’s just frustrating,’’ he said. “We played really well for 50, maybe 55 minutes. We’re just playing not to lose. We kind of let our foot off the gas, which is the story for us.’’
Is there enough resilience in the Flyers’ locker room to start something new in the second half?
“I feel every game like we’re trying to start something new,’’ he said. “There are a lot of positives from this game. We had enough chances to win this game. We just need to find ways to win games in the last five minutes.’’