Before the Flyers’ Monday-night matchup against the Buffalo Sabres, head coach Alain Vigneault revealed that goaltender Carter Hart would be scratched for the next two games as he continues to struggle this season.
The 22-year-old quickly plummeted from potential Vezina Trophy candidate leading up to the 2021 season to a major liability in goal, going 8-9-3 with a .869 save percentage and 4.04 goals-against average; by far his worst numbers since his debut two seasons ago.
Hart showed exceptional promise in his first stints in the NHL. Over the last two years, he was 40-26-4 with a .915 save percentage and a 2.59 goals-against average. He starred in the playoffs in the Canadian bubble, posting two shutouts with a .926 save percentage while helping the Flyers reach the Eastern Conference semifinals.
But Hart’s issues have been especially rough over his last six appearances, allowing 26 goals with a .809 save percentage as the Flyers try to keep up with the top four teams of a loaded Eastern Division.
“He needs to work on his game. He needs to work harder, he needs to work better,” Vigneault said on Monday. “I’ve had good conversations with him and Kim [Dillabaugh, Flyers goaltending coach] about my expectations about his practice habits and him stopping the puck.”
Vigneault made it crystal clear that these next few days won’t be used for Hart to rest up and get away from the ice.
“This is not a rest day for Carter,” Vigneault said. “This is a workday for him. We were able to have him skate in practice yesterday, we’re going to have him skate and then stay on the ice and work on his game. Tomorrow is a team practice day, which we hadn’t had a lot.
“He’s going to skate today in practice, stay on after, practice with the team tomorrow, stay on after. Wednesday he will do the same thing, he’s going to practice it and work with Kim [Dillabaugh, Flyers goaltending coach] after. We’re going to stay that way here for a little while.”
In the meantime, veteran Brian Elliott will get the nod in net after he held the New York Rangers to a single goal on 25 shots on Saturday in a 2-1 victory.