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Carchidi: Don’t Blame Flyers’ Goalies; Peek at Draft Lottery

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Adam Fantilli, Michigan, Philadelphia Flyers
Michigan center Adam Fantilli (6-2, 187) would be a great selection for the Flyers if he was available in the 2023 draft. Photo: AP.

It’s not easy playing once a week, or once in 10 days, or, as in his latest time frame, once in 17 days.

But that’s the plight of of Felix Sandstrom, the Philadelphia Flyers’ backup goaltender.

Sandstrom, 25, has been solid in his eight starts this season, keeping the Flyers in most games. But they have averaged just 2.1 goals per game with Sandstrom in the nets.

As a result, Sandstrom has just one win in those eight games (1-6-1 ). The latest decision was a 3-2 defeat Tuesday in Colorado.

“He kept us in it,” winger Kevin Hayes said.

It’s a familiar refrain. No. 1 goalie Carter Hart and Sandstrom have kept the Flyers close in most of the team’s 30 games, but the Flyers (9-14-7) don’t have the finishers to score keys goals when needed.

As a result, the Flyers are 1-12 in their last 13 one-goal games, excluding empty-net goals. They have one win in 11 games that have been tied heading into the third period.

Hart and Sandstrom haven’t been perfect. Far from it.

But they aren’t to blame for the Flyers’ .417 points percentage. The blame goes to the popgun offense.

Connor Bedard Watch

By losing 16 of their last 18, the Philadelphia Flyers are at least in the conversation for Connor Bedard, regarded as a generation center and a player expected to go No. 1 overall in the deep 2023 draft.

Bedard, 17, has 64 points and 27 goals in 28 games with Regina in the Western Hockey League this season.

At the moment, the Flyers have the league’s sixth-worst record. Center Will Smith, center/winger Zach Benson, and right winger Eduard Sale are among the prospects who could be available at No. 6.

Then again, there’s a strong possibility the Flyers won’t still be at No. 6 at the end of the year. Getting Cam Atkinson and Sean Couturier back from injuries should help them improve, but they should be dealing veterans at the trade deadline — and that would help their draft position.

The draft’s Big Four might look like this: Bedard, center Adam Fantilli, center/winger Leo Carlsson, and right winger Matvei Michkov.

Here are the six teams with the best chance to get the top pick in the draft lottery, per Tankathon:

  1. Anaheim (17 points): 18.5%.
  2. Chicago (18 points): 13.5%.
  3. Columbus (22 points): 11.5%.
  4. San Jose (25 points): 9.5%.
  5. Arizona (22 points in 27 games, four fewer than San Jose): 8.5%.
  6. Flyers (25 points): 7.5%.

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