All in a month’s work.
People figured Carter Hart was destined for greatness someday but raise your hand if you thought it was going to happen this quickly.
On Friday, Hart was named NHL Rookie of the Month for January.
No surprise there.
The 20-year-old netminder went 6-2-1 with a 2.33 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in nine appearances.
Hart edged St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (5-1-1, 1.57 GAA, .936 save percentage), Arizona Coyotes right wing Conor Garland (7-1—8 in 11 games), Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (1-7—8 in 10 games) and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson (0-8—8 in 11 games) for the honor.
The Flyers’ Hart led the entire NHL in saves (283) and ranked third in time on ice (540:13) during January. He won five straight games to close the month (2.38 GAA, .930 SV%).
In doing so, the Sherwood Park, Alta., native became the 10th goaltender in NHL history to post a five-game winning streak prior to his 21st birthday – and the first to achieve the feat since Montreal’s Carey Price from March 20 – April 5, 2008 (7-0-0).
A second-round selection (48th overall) by Philadelphia in the 2016 NHL Draft, Hart has compiled an 8-5-1 record, 2.48 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in 14 total outings since making his NHL debut with a win Dec. 18 vs. the Detroit Red Wings.
He joins Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (October and December) and Dahlin (November) as a Rookie of the Month winner in 2018-19.
The Flyers take a season-high six-game winning streak into Saturday’s game against Edmonton and coach Scott Gordon said Hart has much to do with that success.
“There’s no question, your team’s success is tied into how well your goalies play,’’ Gordon said after Friday’s practice at the Skate Zone. “You know, when you look at our team, when you look at ‘Neuvy’ (Michal Neuvirth and (Brian) Elliott being out with their injuries, I don’t know any team has had to go through what our team has had to go through.
“We’re at where we’re at – it’s been a tough haul the whole year having to go through that – and it hasn’t been easy thing to be able to find somebody to come in. . .especially from the minors the way Carter had. It’s great for the organization and great for Carter.’’
Gordon said he knew pretty early on that Hart would be a good fit. But there have been a few rough patches along the way. Hart has always bounced back from them.
“He played well in Florida (Dec. 29) and then in Carolina (New Year’s Eve, where he got pulled after giving up three goals). . .that was the first real test of adversity he had to deal with,’’ Gordon said. “He got pulled after three goals on 10 or 12 shots.
“So how does he bounce back from that? He handled that, the next bump in the road might have been (the Minnesota game, a 7-4 win, where he didn’t look sharp). We were down 2-0 and he found a way to get through that game. The next game he followed up with a one-goal game.
“There are things as we’ve progressed for the past month where you can check off some things where he handled that. There are a lot of positive signs, him being player of the month is well deserved.’’
>Gostisbehere making progress, might play Saturday
One day after Gordon said Shayne Gostisbehere (bone bruise in foot) was “doubtful’’ for Saturday’s game against Edmonton, the young defenseman skated in Friday’s practice at the Skate Zone.
Gordon said Gostisbehere, who has missed three games, is now a “game-time decision.’’
“A pleasant surprise to be able to do what he did out there today,’’ Gordon said. “Probably a little better (recovery progress) than we thought.’’