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Flyers’ Tortorella Defends Sam Ersson: ‘I don’t have any complaints’



Sam Ersson
Sam Ersson stole the Philadelphia Flyers' game against the San Jose Sharks earlier in the week. (Photo: AP)

The Philadelphia Flyers have had some clunkers in recent weeks, and that’s turned some attention toward the team’s goaltending situation. If there’s one thing John Tortorella is not worried about, it’s the team’s goaltending.

Rookie goalie Sam Ersson, who has started each of the Flyers’ last five games, has produced uneven results. Against San Jose, Florida, and St. Louis, Ersson was excellent, allowing just four total goals between those three starts. In blowout losses to Tampa Bay and Toronto, Ersson allowed seven goals on 27 shots and was pulled after no more than 20 minutes in both games.

For the season, Ersson is 19-14-5 with a 2.67 GAA and three shutouts, but his save percentage is only .898. Despite the ups and downs, Tortorella isn’t fazed one bit.

“I think he’s been ok. He hasn’t been as sharp as he usually has,” Tortorella assessed. “That magnifies things. . . I just video for a half-hour in there today, and you look at some clips, and if the puck isn’t in the net, you might not be talking about that clip. You got to be really careful with that.

“I don’t have any complaints about Sam. He has handled himself so well and played so much hockey. We got to manage him a little bit now.”

Based on the numbers, Tortorella is spot-on in his analysis. Ersson gave the Flyers three strong starts to end February, and then got lit up for five goals by Washington on March 1. Ersson bounced back with two strong starts within the next six days and then got lit up by Tampa Bay on March 9.

Exploring this further, Ersson ripped off three wins against Winnipeg, Florida, and Arizona in early February, and then got torched for nine goals across his next two starts against New Jersey and Toronto. After Carter Hart left the Flyers in late January, Ersson went on a four-game losing streak where he allowed four goals in three of four games.

For any goaltender playing in the NHL as a regular for the first time, consistency and load management will be a struggle. This is something the Flyers and Ersson will work on together during this crucial part of the season, which, by extension, places the onus more on Felix Sandstrom.

It’s an interesting dynamic for the Flyers right now, but one they need to get sorted out soon.

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