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Praise for Felix Sandstrom As He Tries to Settle into Flyers’ Backup Goalie Role

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Felix Sandstrom, Philadelphia Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers are counting on goaltender Felix Sandstrom to be a capable backup to Carter Hart this season.

So far, Carter Hart has looked like the goalie who was very good in his first two NHL seasons — and not the one who struggled mightily two years ago, and had his ups and downs in 2021-22.

Hart has an eye-opening  .943 save percentage in three starts, and has the talent to be one of the league’s elite.

But Hart, 24, the Philadelphia Flyers’ unquestioned No. 1 goaltender, will need some occasional relief, especially with 15 sets of back-to-back games this season.

Enter Felix Sandstrom.

Sandstrom 25, played better than his final stat line: 31 saves on 35 shots as the Flyers fell to Florida, 4-3, on Wednesday.

Even the fourth goal, which looked shaky and gave the Panthers a 4-2 lead, wasn’t as bad as it seemed, coach John Tortorella said.

Tortorella said “you’d like to see a save there” on defenseman Josh Mahura’s shot from the left circle. “But I think it hit (Tony DeAngelo’s) stick and it was like a knuckle puck.”

It was he first start of the season for Sandstrom, now 0-5-1 in his NHL career.

“I thought Sandy gave us a chance,” Tortorella said, mindful Florida had several high-quality chances. “He made some great saves and played really well.”

Hart figures to get the start Saturday in Nashville, but Sandstrom, a third-round draft selection in 2015, could get the call Sunday against visiting San Jose.

The Philadelphia Flyers need to improve the defense. They gave up too many golden opportunities and too many odd-man rushes Wednesday, especially in the first two periods.

Sandstrom looked at the positives.

“There were a lot of shots, so it was good to find the puck,” he said. “I felt I got better as the game went on. … And the guys did a great job of blocking shots on back-to-back (games).”

The previous night, Hart and the Flyers rallied past Tampa Bay, 3-2.

The Flyers have had to do a lot of rallying during their 3-1 start. They fell into a 1-0 deficit in the opener, and 2-0 holes in the next three games.

Scoring first Saturday would take some of the pressure off Hart.

For a change.

Breakaways

Lukas Sedlak, a center/winger, is expected to play on the fourth line and be used on the penalty kill. “He’s going to play,” Tortorella, who coached Sedlak for three seasons in Columbus, told reporters after practice Friday. The Flyers picked up Sedlak off waivers Wednesday from Colorado. … Owen Tippett, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Patrick Brown — three forwards trying to return from injuries — took part in a rehab skate Friday. … James van Riemsdyk leads the Flyers with a plus-4 rating; only one Flyer is a “minus” player — Justin Braun at minus-1.

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