VOORHEES, N.J. — In their first couple decades, the Flyers were blessed with some exceptional goaltending talent, from Hall of Famer Bernie Parent to the late Pelle Lindbergh to the fiery Ron Hextall.
Since then, not so much.
But the search for the next great one might be coming to an end, at least that’s the hope of the Philly faithful.
Carter Hart enters his second full season (third overall) with equally high aspirations.
The 22-year-old Alberta native has said as much during the opening of training camp.
“Yeah, I want to be the best I can be,’’ Hart said during a media Zoom call at the Skate Zone. “I don’t want to just be another NHL player; I want to be the best and I want to be the best NHL goaltender. That is something that I strive for every day.
“For me, for myself and our team, we have a really good group again this year and I think we have to buy in and compete and we will have some success.’’
It’s an age-old adage but one which continues to rule the NHL: A team is only as good as its goaltending.
“I want to be able to give our team a chance to win every night,’’ Hart said. “This year our goal is to win a Stanley Cup and get into the playoffs.’’
Playing in the highly competitive reconstructed East Division (formerly Metropolitan) certainly won’t make the task easy.
“I know we have a good division with good competition,’’ Hart said. “But we are in the Metro every year, we always have good competition. It is nothing that we are not used to or familiar with.
“I think with the scheduling and how we are playing each team eight times or so, it is going to create some competition and maybe some bitterness between teams. It is going to be fun.
Hart was able to work out back home in the Edmonton area and concentrated on improving some areas of his game.
“We had a couple things that we were looking at just to tidy up a little bit,’’ Hart said. “The one thing for me was just playing with different depths in the crease and seeing if I can manage different depths in the crease in different scenarios. . . . situations that maybe I can gain a little bit of ice here or take a little bit of ice and come back a little bit more here, depending on the situation on the ice.’’
The condensed 56-game schedule will feature eight back-to-back game situations and fewer days off. Hart knows he has to be ready to recover quickly after game action.
“We knew it was going to be a condensed schedule this year,’’ Hart said. “That’s why I didn’t touch the ice until Nov. 3. So, I took about almost two months off the ice there. I made a decision with my goalie coach here that it was best
I take a little bit more time off the ice to get my body some more rest. I felt more fresh coming into the start of my offseason on the ice just for preparation and what will be a condensed schedule. I think now, more than ever, obviously it is always important, but now taking care of your body off the ice is going to be more crucial in a shortened season.’’
>Making lines, defense pairs in a hurry
With no preseason games and only about a week left in training camp, coach Alain Vigneault indicates he will have to make some quick decisions on his line combinations and defense pairingns.
“Because of the fact that there are no true exhibition games, just one intrasquad game, we’re going to have to make up our mind and make the decisions,’’ Vigneault said.
“When we went into the bubble in Toronto, we had those three (round-robin) games and right into the playoffs right away. We made some important decisions for the team’s benefit right away based on performances.
“This is a shortened season. Guys are going to have to be on top of their game right away. Our first objective obviously is to get into the playoffs. We’ll have a little bit of time to look at some options. Hopefully we get that chemistry that’s needed early to have a good start. The start that we need to be what we believe will be a playoff team and one of the teams that took a giant step last year and needs to take another step this year.’’