The Philadelphia Flyers only needed one goal on Saturday evening to move their point streak to eight games. And the reason that is all they needed is named Sam Ersson. Goaltending has been a positive for the Flyers this season as their tandem has been a large reason they have had the success they are having.
Ersson, playing in front of his family for the first time in his NHL career, stopped all 34 shots that were thrown his way by the Wings. When your goaltending is going, everyone in front of you seems to play that much better. Players want to make hits and block shots in front of someone who is giving it their all to help them win.
That is why the Flyers largely controlled the pace of play against the Red Wings. Feeding off the stellar goaltending in net, they were able to take away the middle of the ice and not allow Detroit to make many dangerous plays. Using the body was key as the Flyers blocked 21 shots, led by Joel Farabee's four. They also dolled out 19 hits, with Nic Deslauriers throwing five of his own.
A perfect example of the Flyers' willingness to do anything for their goaltender came during the final moments of the game. With the Detroit net empty, they were throwing everything they could at Ersson. And he made quite a few big saves. While a Patrick Kane shot from the slot missed wide, it rebounded right to Lucas Raymond at the side of the night. Ersson held his post. A blast from the point by Shayne Gostisbehere was also gloved by Ersson.
Chaos ensued in from of the Flyers' net as players were diving out left and right to stop anything from getting to Ersson. The young goaltender may have only seen the two shots mentioned above during that sequence as his teammates in front blocked anything else heading his way.
""The effort they put in and the willingness to block shots is absolutely outstanding on this team. I would say it’s a big part of how we play our PK and five-on-five, it’s a huge reason that we’re able to have success.""- Ersson on his teammates' efforts.
Rasmus Ristolainen used his weight effectively in one of his best games of the season. Expecting a potential dropoff in his play after returning from injury, he has carried on in his 10 games thus far. In the absence of Travis Sanheim due to illness, Ristolainen played a season-high 23:07 and was promoted to the top pairing.
Cam York also played one of his best games in Sanheim's absence. He was effective in both zones in his 23:13. As we've seen from the Flyers' defense this season, they aren't afraid to activate down low to make plays happen. That is what York did off the faceoff win. Off the give-and-go from Travis Konecny, York carried the puck up the boards and threw it in front of the net for Sean Couturier. Thankfully for him, the puck would deflect off J.T. Compher and went past Alex Lyon for the lone goal.
""I thought he used his legs more tonight. I watched him try to score a goal, try to bring it to the far post in front of the net, where two weeks ago he stayed off to the side, tried to flip it in the short side, and skate behind the net. So yeah, he used our net a lot as far as escaping and just losing the guy. So, his legs were evident tonight.""- Tortorella on York's aggressiveness.
This Flyers team is playing for each other, and it shows on the ice. They moved into sole possession of second in the Metro and are looking more and more like a playoff team every night. There is still quite a bit of time left in the season, but this team could make some noise if they continue to play the way they have been.