Auditions for the Philadelphia Flyers’ backup goalie hit the road Wednesday night against the New York Islanders.
The competition is to back up Carter Hart, who has not yet played in the preseason.
“I think both guys have been solid all camp,” said Phantoms coach Ian Laperrière, who coached the Flyers in the first two preseason games.
“Felix and ‘Erss’ are two really capable goaltenders and they keep improving every day. It’s going to be a tough competition, that’s for sure.
“They know [they’re competing]. They’re not dumb; they know what’s going on. ‘Erss’ had a great year for us last year and Felix played well for them [Flyers] at moments and he won games.
“They both went home and trained. They want that spot. It’s only healthy for the organization — you have [Cal] Petersen in there in that mix— it’s only healthy for everybody.”
Deal for Ersson
Ersson signed a two-year, $2.9 million contract extension in August. Based on Ersson’s play last year and his play this fall, he would appear to have the inside track to back up Hart. Ersson combines potential with performance. The contract shouldn’t guarantee Ersson the job over someone who is playing better or has more potential. The job should be won on merit.
He turns 24 next month. Last season, he was 6-3 in 12 games for the Flyers, with a 3.07 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage.
The Flyers are only two games into their preseason schedule, with four games to go, but Sandstrom and Petersen could begin the season with the Phantoms.
But as hockey players tell you — every day is another day. Great saves and consistent play is what teams look for. Allowing soft goals could be a bad day away for anyone.
“Decent. Obviously, the first game,” Ersson said about his performance against the Islanders. “A little bit of rusty in certain situations — shots you haven’t seen for awhile.
“You just go in and not take anything for granted. I did something good last year and I’m proud of that and kinda put myself in a better situation for this year. I know that doesn’t mean anything coming into this year.
“I still have to fight for everything if I want to be up there with big team. I have to prove it.
“I’m out here trying to prove that I can help this team to win games. That’s my job and the only thing I want to focus on.
“It’s fun. You want to be a pro hockey player, you want to feel that little bit of nervousness throughout a game and practices, everything. It’s really fun going to work. You know every day means a lot.”
Sandstrom, 26, won the backup job coming out of training camp last season. He played 20 games for the Flyers and had a 3-12-3 record, with a 3.72 goals-against average and a .887 save percentage. Sandstrom is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
If Sandstrom doesn’t make the Flyers out of camp, he would be exposed to waivers.
“It feels good to get adjusted playing games again,” Sandstrom said after the Islanders game. “We played a little better today than last game. It’s good to get some shots at the beginning.
“I’m battling to get a shot here and all the other guys are, too. We’re just battling hard every day.”
Also in the mix is Petersen, who turns 29 next month. He was a pickup from the Kings in the Ivan Provorov deal. Petersen allowed four goals in the first six minutes against the Devils.
Last season with the Kings, Petersen was 5-3-2 with a 2.92 GAA and .905 save percentage. He has started only 94 games in five seasons with the Kings. His career record is 44-42-10.
Gotta figure the final four preseason games will provide some clarity to an interesting training camp battle.