Flyers see benefits for Ersson back with Phantoms

Sam Ersson

PHILADELPHIA – When a player is called up from the minors, does well in the big show and then has to go back down due to roster considerations, the first words you hear are “it’s part of the business.’’

Such was the case with rookie goaltender Sam Ersson, who went 5-0-0 with a 2.37 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage in seven games with the Flyers before he was returned to the Phantoms the other day to make room for regular backup Felix Sandstrom.

Sandstrom spent two weeks with Lehigh Valley on a conditioning assignment after missing time in late December due to illness. Due to waiver considerations, Sandstrom’s return basically was dictated regardless of how well Ersson played.

With the Flyers playing back-to-back games, ending with Sunday night’s home encounter against Winnipeg, the Flyers pretty much had to go with Sandstrom in goal. In eight previous consecutive game situations, coach John Tortorella has split the goaltending assignments.

Was there any frustration with having seen Ersson play so well and now back in Allentown?

Tortorella said the situation went beyond just waiver considerations.

“He (Ersson) needs to get some minutes,’’ Tortorella said during a pre-game press briefing at the Wells Fargo Center. “He missed a lot last year with his injury. It (the American Hockey League) is a great league as far as getting minutes. It’s part of a process for him.

“We just wanted to make sure he knew a little bit about the situation. He was spoken to honestly.’’

Sandstrom entered the game with a record of 1-6-1 with a 3.37 GAA and .888 SP.

 

>Laughton all-purpose player

 

With Sean Couturier out at least a couple more months and Cam Atkinson gone for the season, the Flyers have been using Scott Laughton on the power play with promising results.

Laughton has already reached career highs in power-play goals (five), assists (three) and points (eight).

Before this year, he had already established himself as an elite penalty killer. That success has continued this season, as he leads the NHL in shorthanded points (seven) and is tied for second in shorthanded goals (three). Both are career highs.

The power-play success has been a bit of a surprise.

Like Couturier, he’s become pretty much an all-situation player.

“Game in, game out, he makes big plays,’’ Tortorella said. “Big mistakes, then makes another big play after. That’s just what he is in all facets of the game.’’

>Short shots

 

Against the Jets, Kevin Hayes played in his 600th NHL game. . .Flyers entered the game with a 9-5-2 record against the Western Conference. . .Tortorella said he’s working on getting his team to not shoot the puck so often at empty nets and not “ice the puck so much’’ when protecting late leads. Prime example: Owen Tippett shooting wide at an empty net late in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Detroit. “There are certain opportunities where you have a chance to support a play and not just always look and go right away for the open net,’’ the coach said. “I felt we had an opportunity to make the next play and then go for the open net.’’

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About Wayne Fish 1948 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.