Despite two rough losses, Ersson still confident

Samuel Ersson

      It’s humbling enough when a goaltender gets pulled from one game in a week. But twice? That can impact a netminder’s overall confidence.

      The Flyers’ Samuel Ersson doesn’t sound shaken despite a quick exit in last weekend’s forget-about-it 7-0 loss at Tampa, followed by another hasty trip to the bench in Thursday night’s 6-2 defeat by Toronto.

      Let’s remember, Ersson, a rookie, wasn’t supposed to be in this No. 1 position to begin with. That designation was held by one Carter Hart until legal troubles surfaced in mid-season. So anything positive Ersson contributes the rest of the way has to be considered a bonus.

      There are going to be nights like these and the important thing is that Ersson sounds determined to rectify the situation (if he plays) in Saturday’s game at Boston.

      He was asked after the Maple Leaf game what makes him so sure he can recover quickly.

      “I think I’ve done that all year,” he said. “It’s something as a goalie you’re going to have to do. You’re going to have tough games. I don’t like it, I want to play good every game. Especially with how important these games are for us.

      “It (the Toronto loss) is in the past now, I can’t control it. I have to go ahead and meet the next challenge.”

      Ersson continues to impress with his overall numbers. He’s 19-14-5 with a 2.67 goals-against average. If the Flyers do make the playoffs, the native of Sweden will get a true baptism of fire. If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Flyers would play Carolina and that would be a honest-to-goodness test.

      The 24-year-old has been around long to know how to make adjustments in his game when things aren’t going exactly his way. Those adjustments might have been on the “off switch” against the Lightning and the Leafs.

      “It’s a mental thing,” he said. After allowing a goal, a netminder “must focus on the next thing all the time. It’s the same mentality no matter what the game or what the score. It’s something you always try to handle.”

      Although he’s been thrust into this role of doing the yeoman’s share of the work, he insists he’s not wearing down as the Flyers approach the final month of the season.

      “I feel good,” he said. “I’m in good shape and I’m ready.”

      >Foerster shows more versatility

      Rookie right wing Tyson Foerster was one of the Flyers’ bright spots in the Toronto game.

      Not only did he score his 17th goal, moving him into a tie for second for freshman scorers behind Chicago’s Connor Bedard, but it came shorthanded, which put him into a tie for the league lead in that category for goals and points by first-year players.

      On the flip side, Foerster has four power-play goals, one off the league lead for rookies. His seven power-play points are ranked tied for fifth and he also has a game-deciding goal in a shootout, which ties him for the NHL lead.

      Quite a first season and the penalty kill assignment just adds to his portfolio.

      “He’s a young player who’s really displayed a desire to work on the defensive side of the game,’’ said associate coach Brad Shaw, who worked behind the bench for the Toronto game due to head coach John Tortorella’s suspension. “So we’ve talked to him for weeks now (about the penalty kill).”

      Shaw, mindful of Foerster’s plus-5, disclosed the coaching staff told the player “you’re going to get a chance, you’re going to get a chance (on the NHL’s third-ranked penalty kill). At that point in that game (the Flyers were trailing 6-1) it’s easy to put him out there. It’s a great experience and for him to put it in the net, that’s great for him. I’m happy for him.”

      If not for the presence of Bedard, Foerster might have a real shot at the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year, an honor the Flyers have never captured in their 57-year history.

      “In the future he’s going to be a penalty killer,” Shaw predicted. “And a big part of how we go forward with our penalty kill.”

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About Wayne Fish 2426 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.