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‘I want to be that guy’: Felix Sandstrom Ready to Seize Flyers’ Backup Job



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The Philadelphia Flyers are relying on Felix Sandstrom to perform, and Sandstrom is level to the daunting task ahead. (Photo: AP)

The Philadelphia Flyers knew they were going to need whoever their backup goalie was to give them a solid handful of starts to relieve incumbent starter Sam Ersson down the stretch. Cal Petersen gave them that, until he self-destructed in a disastrous 7-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 25.

Three days later, on Feb. 28, the Flyers waived Petersen, and Felix Sandstrom was called up to the big club ahead of practice the next day.

Because Ersson had played in the 5-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Friday, Sandstrom got the nod against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, making 24 saves in the 4-2 victory.

Getting a spot start in what was generally considered a must-win game is an unenviable task, but Sandstrom passed the test. So far, so good.

“I want to be that guy. I want to be someone that can make a difference here,” Sandstrom said after defeating Ottawa. “I’m ready for the challenge, and I’m going to do everything I can to be a big positive for this group.”

Head coach John Tortorella put things bluntly earlier in the week, making it clear that he wasn’t holding his breath on Sandstrom holding down the fort.

After Thursday’s practice, Tortorella said: “I don’t think our team played great in Pittsburgh. I don’t think Cal played that well. So, Sandy gets a chance now. The next time we want to use our backup, Sandy will get that game, and we’ll make a call from there.”

Have the Flyers made that call? Not officially, but Tortorella noticed a step in the right direction from his 27-year-old netminder during the win against Ottawa.

“The thing I liked about it, he closed the game out. I think that was his next step,” Tortorella offered. “I thought that was his struggles [sic] when we had him here last year – was closing a game out.

“Made some key saves at key times. I’m happy for him. He looked confident.”

Sandstrom, despite playing parts of three seasons with the Flyers, recorded just his fourth career NHL win across 26 appearances. Heading into his first start of the season against Ottawa, Sandstrom boasted a paltry record of just 3-16-4.

Where it goes from here for the Swede is unclear, but there are tough starts to be had down the stretch that could define his career as an NHL player.

The Flyers have two back-to-backs left, with one on March 23 & 24 and the other on April 5 & 6, and have 13 total games remaining between now and the end of March.

Among those 13 games includes a seven-game stretch where the Flyers will face the Toronto Maple Leafs twice, the Boston Bruins twice, the Carolina Hurricanes, and the Florida Panthers. Then, they’ll close it out with a trip to visit the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Ersson simply cannot play all those games, especially considering they come across a span of just 14 days. The Flyers need Sandstrom as much as they need Ersson, and fortunately, Sandstrom is ready and able to rise to the occasion.

For more Flyers news and up-to-date coverage, visit Philly Hockey Now and like our Facebook page.
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