Just before the Flyers ended up defeating the Montreal Canadiens, thanks to Morgan Frost’s big night, there was news from the Flyers organization. Sam Ersson was being recalled from the AHL Phantoms because Carter Hart had a lower body injury.
It might have been something he sustained in his previous game, a shutout over Detroit. It may have been something lingering or something suffered in practice. Details haven’t been yet released about it and most hockey teams get hush-hush about this sort of stuff.
For right now, the Flyers will bounce back and forth between Ersson and Felix Sandström in between the pipes. Both goalies have had interesting seasons.
Sandström won his second game of the season last night against Montreal, stopping 27 of 29 shots in what was his best game of the season. He’s was also responsible for the .03 second goal that put the Carolina game into overtime and turned it into a loss. He has a 2-10-2 record this year with a save percentage of .887 and a GAA of 3.38. Although, to be fair, the question has been raised several times, how much of it is him and how much of it is the poor play of the team around him? He hasn’t been stellar this year and doesn’t show a lot of confidence in his abilities. But he is cheap.
Ersson has been really streaky. He’s been very hot during portions of this season, including getting his first career NHL shutout in January, but he has been cold on occasion as well. He’s 6-1-0 this year with a save percentage of .898 and a GAA of 3.07. Again, to be fair, a lot of the goals he’s faced have come in two or three contests. But also, when compared to Sandström, they are similar. It could just be that the team’s offense happened to come alive when he is in goal.
As for Hart, this is the second time this season he’s been hurt. It’s a shame too, because it’s been a bounce-back year for him. His 21 wins are second highest to the 24 he had in 2019-20. He’s started the most games (52) in his career. His .909 save percentage is .004 points higher than last year while his goals against average (2.90) is his best in two seasons. These things are great and are showing that our 24 year old netminder is doing well and improving, despite being on a struggling team. And any goalie who has a Foo Fighter inspired helmet is alright by me.
However, there are some concerns. In 2021, Hart was shutdown for the season with a ligament tear in his knee. Last year, Hart was also shutdown near the end of the season. This is troubling.
Maybe it is a precaution and maintenance. If the season is going nowhere, why send your star goalie out there to get injured and jeopardize his future? After all, we don’t want to go back to the 2018-19 season where we had eight goalies. (Can you name them all?)
But, speaking of the 2018-19 season, we can’t have a goalie who is going to get hurt every season. Especially if, somehow, Danny Briere and John Tortorella turn this team around sooner than expected. If we have a wounded goalie to start the playoffs, we’re not going to get very far in them.
Hart is a great goalie. Ersson and Sandström are serviceable at best. But if Hart’s injuries are something that is going to keep reoccurring, the Flyers may have to look elsewhere for their goalie of the future. Likewise, if he is damaged goods, it might be best to cut ties now while he is still worth something than to hold onto him and be stuck with yet another injured star who can’t play.