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Goaltending May Cost Flyers a Spot in NHL Playoffs



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Flyers backup goalie Felix Sandstrom allowed three goals on 14 shots against Florida on Sunday night. (Photo: AP)

Merely two months ago, goaltending was considered a position of strength for the Philadelphia Flyers. Now, the situation between the pipes could end up costing them a spot in the NHL playoffs.

The Flyers have 10 games remaining on their schedule, including a back-to-back away from home on April 5 & 6. In all likelihood, the backup goaltender is going to have to play at least one more game this regular season.

Felix Sandstrom, who assumed that responsibility in recent weeks, inspired zero confidence after allowing three clunker goals on 14 shots in Sunday night’s 4-1 loss to Florida. After this loss, Sandstrom now sits at a career 4-18-4 record in 30 NHL games to go along with a paltry .880 save percentage across three seasons.

This season has been the 27-year-old’s worst by far, statistically, as he now sits at a .823 save percentage.

Cal Petersen has a .864 save percentage for the Flyers this season and has been in the AHL since getting torched for seven goals in a 7-6 loss to Pittsburgh on Feb. 25.

In short, the Flyers are between a rock and a hard place.

Many had lamented Sandstrom’s start on Sunday, instead suggesting that 24-year-old incumbent Sam Ersson should have started after having already played on Saturday.

The truth is that Ersson, too, is not impervious to having a bad game. The only difference is that his bad games are far and few between.

If the Flyers run Ersson into the ground in order to make the playoffs, they’ll assuredly get bounced in four games. You simply cannot succeed in the postseason in today’s NHL with goaltenders who are either tired, ice-cold, or both.

And then there’s actually making the playoffs.

The Washington Capitals are two points behind the Flyers for third place in the Metropolitan Division with two games in hand. If Washington overtakes the Flyers, Philadelphia will drop to the last wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.

From there, the Detroit Red Wings are three points behind the Flyers with one game in hand. With so little separating the three teams, the Flyers could find themselves on the short end of the stick rather quickly.

Between Ersson, Sandstrom, and Petersen, if the Flyers can’t get their goaltending straightened out for this home stretch, they will certainly drop meaningful games with a playoff spot on the line.

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