“That’s my job,” he said after relieving Hart in the first period of Wednesday’s eventual 5-2 loss to visiting Buffalo. “That’s why I’m here. I want to help this team win some hockey games.”
Hart, 25, was injured midway through the first period and left the game. The Flyers called it a mid-body injury but have not said how long he will be out. They did not give an update Thursday, though they did recall goalie Cal Petersen from the Phantoms on Thursday. (Defenseman Victor Mete was sent to Lehigh Valley.)
There seems little chance Hart will play this weekend — Friday in Buffalo, or Saturday against Los Angeles at the Wells Fargo Center.
Coach John Tortorella and the players believe in the 24-year-old Ersson, a good-natured Swede.
“I think you saw it last year, how good he was, and there’s probably a couple games he wants back,” center Scott Laughton said. “I thought he was really strong for us (Wednesday).”
In relief, Ersson stopped seven of nine shots.
“We all know what Sam is capable of,” said defenseman Travis Sanheim, who has 10 points in 10 games for the 4-5-1 Flyers. “I’m sure more ice time for him, or more game action is going to help. We’re not worried at all with Sam in the net.”
Ersson has mostly struggled in a small sample size this season: three games, a 4.91 GAA and .763 save percentage. He was solid with the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms last season.
“He’s just going to have to get sharp,” Tortorella said. “I’m not sure what Carter’s situation is; we’ll find out more (Thursday). Sam has shown us many times he can bounce back. I’ve listened to him talk to you guys. I think he self-evaluates really well. That’s a really important part of a player, their self-evaluation. I think he’s very, very strict with that as far as how he feels about himself. I think that will get him through.”
With Hart likely sidelined, the Flyers won’t change their attacking style and play more defensive-minded, Tortorella said.
“I like the attitude of how we play,” the coach said.
In Wednesday’s loss, the Flyers outshot the Sabres, 40-15, and had a 76-37 advantage in shot attempts. After the game’s first 10 minutes, the puck was in Buffalo’s defensive end most of the night.
“I see a lot of good things in how we’re playing and (I like) … the aggressiveness of our play,” Tortorella said. “We’re going to have some breakdowns. I’m not blaming it on the goalie, but we’re going to need some saves along the way, too.
“That’s just the way we’re going to have to go about this this year. I believe we’ll get there.”
But without Hart, the task would become monumental.