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Flyers Takeaways: Ersson Strong Again as Playoff Hopes Grow

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Rookie Flyers goaltender Sam Ersson has stopped 45 of the last 46 shots he's faced. (Photo: AP)

The Philadelphia Flyers wanted to finish the season strong, and after Saturday night’s 1-0 victory over the visiting New Jersey Devils at Wells Fargo Center, they’re one game closer to wrapping up the season on a high note.

That is, unless they make the playoffs. Then the Flyers certainly aren’t done.

Ersson rebounds at the right time

The Flyers wouldn’t be where they are today without Sam Ersson. Whether you want to consider that a good thing or a bad thing is totally up to you.

After allowing 11 goals in two games against Montreal and Columbus, the 24-year-old rookie has stopped 45 of the last 46 shots sent his way, good for a .978 save percentage. Ersson was a perfect 20-for-20 on Saturday night against New Jersey, giving him his fourth shutout of the season.

“I’m not apologizing to anybody for playing Erss as much as I did,” head coach John Tortorella said. “I’d do it again. And that’s what I love about him. He knows, and he was battling. He’s found something here, and that isn’t a physical skill. That’s a mental skill.

“Every time we talk about Erss, what do I talk about? I talk about his mental toughness.”

And it’s likely the most important game of Ersson’s Flyers career is just around the corner.

Konecny saves the Flyers, again

Aside from Ersson, the Flyers needed Travis Konecny to step up the most this week, and he has. Konecny recorded his 400th NHL point against New Jersey on Saturday, burying a short-handed snap shot for the Flyers’ 16th short-handed goal of the season.

In a 1-0 win, it was that moment which made all the difference.

“I honestly just kind of looked up and reacted,” Konecny said of his goal.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right?

Konecny now has 33 goals on the season, expanding upon his previous career-high of 31 from last season. The 27-year old is also quietly up to 68 points on the season, hovering just two away from the 70-point milestone.

Flyers go for a different look against Devils

After the dust settles, many will look back on this game as one that was quite boring and uneventful. Looking at things from a Flyers perspective, there’s a reason for that.

Sure, Jack Hughes (shoulder) is done for the season, but it’s not as if New Jersey still doesn’t have Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, Luke Hughes, Timo Meier, and others. The Flyers chose not to get into a track meet with the Devils, and they didn’t.

Morgan Frost, Owen Tippett, Bobby Brink, and Joel Farabee all played 14:09 or fewer, which is quite the step down from their usual allotment of ice time, and especially so in a game that was 0-0 for over a period and a half.

Tortorella and the Flyers instead turned to players like Ryan Poehling, Sean Couturier, Noah Cates, Garnet Hathaway, and Tyson Foerster to lock New Jersey down and keep their checking tight in all three zones.

With one more game left, against Washington, it would be no surprise if Tortorella and the Flyers turn to their most trusted players one more time.

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