The Flyers Cal Petersen experiment needs a quick ending

Nov 4, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Cal Petersen (40) reacts after allowing a goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 4, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Cal Petersen (40) reacts after allowing a goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

There are some positions in sports that you can never have enough of. In the NBA, you can never have enough big guys up front who can score, rebound, and block. As we Phillies fans have seen, you can never have enough strong arms in the bullpen. NFL teams always need a steady reliable backup QB just in case something happens. In the NHL, you can never have enough good goalies. In the case of the Philadelphia Flyers, this has long been their Achilles heel.

Bernie Parent was about as solid as they come. If it weren’t for injuries, he may have shattered goalie records. Since him, the Flyers have had some decent goalies, but nobody as good as Bernie. Ron Hextall and Brian Boucher come to mind as some of the better ones.

For a while, Carter Hart seemed to be the “next one”, but injuries and inconsistences have plagued him. Because of this, the Flyers have stockpiled a bevy of goalies in the AHL and other minor and junior leagues in an effort to prepare for the future which is surely coming.

Sam Ersson has won the backup/starting role for now. While shaky in some of his starts, he seemingly proved himself worthy of the mantle of starting goalie with a dominant win over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.  Felix Sandstrom has struggled in pretty much his entire NHL career. He’s been given opportunities, albeit mostly with a bad team in front of him for most of those occasions. However, Ersson had those same lineups in front of him and has played well whereas Sandstom hasn’t.  This leads us to the current third option in net, Cal Petersen.

Petersen came over as part of the Ivan Provorov trade as, basically, a salary dump-change of scenery move by the LA Kings. He got his first start on Saturday against his old team. Sometimes, in these “revenge games”, you see a player step up as if to say, “Ha! You shouldn’t have gotten rid of me!”. That was not the message sent that night. Rather, it was the Kings who said, “Yeah….this is why we traded you for pennies on the dollar.” Petersen let up five goals in an embarrassing 5-0 performance. Five goals on 30 shots. Meanwhile, former Flyer goalie (in four games) Cam Talbot looked solid stopping all 24 shots.

Let’s break down each goal here.

Adrian Kempe’s goal came as a results of a turnover at center ice. He took a pass from Quinton Byfield that was bouncy. There really was no good way that Cam York could have stopped it, but had Petersen been in position, it should’ve been stopped.

Follow that up with Anze Kopitar, the ageless wonder, and his goal just 18 seconds later. Kopitar deflected a shot by Matt Roy. Kopitar has made a career out of goals like this, kind of like John LeClair used to. Stand near the net and wait for a rebound of deflection. Not a lot Petersen could’ve done there with the traffic in front. At the same time, the Flyers defense can’t let Kopitar be in that spot in the first place. This is where a big muscled defender, like a Chris Pronger type, should be to move a guy like that out of the way.

Arthur Kaliyev scored his goal on a power play goal in the second period. So far, the Flyers’ penalty kill unit has been fairly good. On this goal, the Kings had several shots that were rebounded out. If Petersen can’t get a hold on it, the defense needs to clear the puck. Kaliyev scored in part because Petersen was out of position while the Flyers defense couldn’t get rid of the puck. The defense left him out to dry on that one, but Petersen should’ve been ready for the shot.

Two more goals were scored in the third period.  The first was by Trevor Moore. The second goal was by Blake Lizotte.

Moore’s shot went between the legs of Travis Sanheim. Petersen never saw it coming. Great shot by Moore. Nothing really Sanheim or Petersen could do on that.

On this goal, Petersen is zoned in on Alex Laferriere and, to a lesser extent, Kevin Fiala. He never even sees Lizotte screaming up the ice with a blazing shot. There is too much going on here, but you should be aware of everything that’s happening.

Maybe the Kings were familiar with what Petersen can and can’t do after years of playing with him. They knew his strengths and weaknesses. They knew how to attack him and they succeeded well.

If this is what we can expect from Petersen, he’s not worth holding onto. Not for $5 million for this year and next. That’s money the Flyers can’t afford to spend on a lackluster goalie. Every goalie is going to have some bad nights. Every goalie is going to have games where they look like Marty Brodeur as well. However, I’d rather roll the dice with a goalie like Ersson and Sandstrom and see what these guys can do. The Kings gave up on Petersen rather quickly. It’s time the Flyers do it too before he does any more damage.