Ersson was a pleasant surprise in an unexpected good season

Samuel Ersson

      PHILADELPHIA – Samuel Ersson was scheduled to play about 18 or 20 games this season.

      The Flyers rookie goaltender ended up playing 51.

      Much of that had to do with the departure of No. 1 goalie Carter Hart due to legal issues.

      As it turns out, Ersson did just fine.

      The 24-year-old Swede finished with a record of 23-19-7 and a respectable goals-against average of 2.82, including Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss to Washington which eliminated the Flyers from playoff consideration.

      With Hart’s future up in the air and Russian prospect Ivan Fedotov needing some time to adjust to North American-style hockey, it looks like Ersson will come to training camp in September as the team’s top netminder.

      According to coach John Tortorella, Ersson made significant strides in a very short period of time.

      “That was one of the most encouraging things of it all,” said the coach regarding Ersson’s performance. “The last three games (two wins and a narrow loss) that he can go home with this summer.

      “It was his 51st (game) tonight. It’s ridiculous how much we played him. But he gets to go home feeling like he rebounded. He found himself again. That’s very encouraging.”

      Ersson brings a lot to the position when it comes to thinking about the game. He makes plenty of good decisions and it’s a tribute to how quickly he’s picked on the speed and caliber of the NHL game.

      “I feel like I wanted to play more,” he said with a smile. “I played a lot in the second half of the year but I want to play a lot of games.

      “I think we did a lot of good things this year. We came up short but there are a lot of things we can be proud of. No one gave us a chance but we almost made it to the playoffs.”

      Ersson was encouraged by how his defense played in front of him. The Flyers’ backliners kept a lot of shots to the outside.

      Another key part of this season was the way he bounced back after being in net for nearly all of the damaging eight-game losing streak. Those wins against the Rangers and Devils did a lot for his confidence going into the offseason.

      “We were counted out,” he said. “But we gave it a shot. We did everything we could to push for the playoffs. Obviously that (eight-game streak) was a tough streak. But again I think we proved how could stick together as a team after the performance in Montreal (a 9-3 loss). We rallied and proved we could stick with it.”

      That losing streak took a lot out of everybody and cost the Flyers a shot at the postseason.

      “You never want to go through a streak like that, it was tough timing,” Ersson said. “You have to battle through it. I think I tried to take some of that with me as well. You’re going to go through those stretches and you have to be able to handle it.

      “I think we did as a team. I think we can hold our heads up high and say we did it.”

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About Wayne Fish 2437 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.