ELMONT, N.Y. – Perhaps the most intense competition for a spot on the Flyers’ roster this season involves the three candidates for the backup goaltender position.
On Wednesday night, two of those hopefuls – rookies Felix Sandstrom and Samuel Ersson – turned in sharp performances in the Flyers’ 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders at UBS Arena.
Sandstrom started and allowed one goal. Ersson played the last two periods and also gave up only one goal as the Flyers dropped their second straight game to fall to 0-2.
Last season, Sandstrom saw the most action and might have a slight edge over Ersson and NHL veteran Cal Petersen, who came over from the Los Angeles Kings in this past summer’s Ivan Provorov trade.
“Both guys were solid,” said Lehigh Valley Phantoms coach Ian Laperriere, who worked the Flyers’ bench. “I think both guys have been solid all camp. Felix and ‘Ers’ are both capable goaltenders and they keep improving everyday. It’s going to be a tough competition, that’s for sure.”
Sandstrom finished 3-12-3 with a 3.72 goals-against average last season as Carter Hart’s main back-up.
“I’m battling to get a shot here,” Sandstrom said. “But a lot of guys are, too. They’re battling hard every day. At the end of the day, I’m going to play as many games as I can. That’s where my focus is; play as good as I can and show I deserve a spot on the team.”
Ersson also had his moments with the Flyers last year. He was 6-3 with a 3.07 GAA.
“I was decent, obviously first game,” he said. “I felt a bit rusty for a while. Overall it was just fun to be back out there playing games. I’m just going in taking nothing for granted. I did something good last year and I’m proud of that. I kind of put myself in a better position for this year but I know that doesn’t really mean anything going into this year. I still have to fight for everything.
“I’m out here trying to prove I can help this team win games. That’s my job and that’s the only thing I want to focus on.”
New York picked up a goal by Simon Holmstrom at 12:38 of the first period.
The Flyers switched goalies after one period, inserting Ersson. New York scored a second goal in the middle frame by Julien Gauthier and the Flyers didn’t show much spunk in the offensive zone.
Ryan Poehling scored with 2:22 to play to break up the Isles’ shutout bid. Perhaps things will change when the Flyers visit Boston on Friday night for their third preseason game. But they will have to get their scoring untracked to get into the win column.
>Poehling sees first action
Poehling saw his first action in a Flyers uniform. It’s been a useful training camp but it was nice to make a break from the camp practice stuff.
“Yes, I think those scrimmages and stuff help you acclimate yourself to get the energy that you need to bring to these games,” he said. “For us, it’s about taking what we’ve learned and putting it in this game.”
>Laughton feeling upbeat
Starting a second year under head coach John Tortorella, alternate captain Scott Laughton sounds a bit more comfortable with where things stand both on and off the ice.
As for Tortorella’s difficult skating drills, Laughton has no problem with them.
“I think it brings all the boys together,” he said. “And I think the anxiety leading up to it, with everyone talking about it, but I think it brings the guys together. I don’t think any other team in the league does it like this. You try to get the edge when you can.
“I think there’s a method to what ‘Torts’ does here.”
Laughton was the only player wearing a letter (A) last season and will probably be the only one this season. But at least he should get some help in the leadership department with the return of Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson.
“It’s huge,” Laughton said. “Especially with the group we have. Garnet Hathaway, guys like who have had different experiences throughout their career. (Marc) Staal, playing late in the year last year, playing meaningful games, I think that just helps a guy like (Cam) York or someone like that.
“Having ‘Coots’ and Cam back, not only on the ice but off the ice. They’re sounding boards for guys and making them feel comfortable. We need our younger guys to take a big step for us to be successful and to play some meaningful games. It’s really exciting. I’m thrilled to have those guys (Couturier, Atkinson) back.”
>York, Atkinson scratched from practice
Both defenseman Cam York and forward Cam Atkinson were scratched from Wednesday morning’s skate at the Flyers Training Center due to minor issues. They were not scheduled to play in the game against the Islanders and are listed as day to day. No word yet if they will be available for the Boston game on Friday night.