It seems whenever Philadelphia Flyers goalie Felix Sandstrom gets a start in net, his squad just can’t remember how to score goals.
In Sandstrom’s first 10 starts of the season, the Flyers were outscored 38-23 and lost nine of those 10 contests. As a result, the 26-year-old’s stats look, well, not so great on paper.
Not exactly an ideal recipe for building a young netminder’s confidence.
Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, the unfortunate trend continued. Sandstrom stood on his head to keep the Flyers competitive, but the goal support was completely nonexistent as the Orange & Black suffered a 1-0 shutout loss to the Hurricanes.
Sandstrom turned aside all but one of the Hurricanes’ 29 shots on goal.
“The difference of this game from all his others, as far as I’m concerned, he made every save,” said head coach John Tortorella.
“He gave us a chance. I thought he was outstanding.”
Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov scored the only marker of the game with a one-timed laser on the power play just 2:09 into the first period.
A couple new faces were in the lineup for the Flyers at PNC Arena. Elliot Desnoyers, who spent the last week with the Phantoms in Lehigh Valley, returned to the Flyers’ lineup to appear in his third NHL game. But more interestingly, Tyson Foerster, who the Flyers selected in the first round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, made his long-awaited NHL debut. He and Desnoyers were recalled from Lehigh Valley Thursday due to injuries to Wade Allison and Brendan Lemieux.
Foerster is best known for his ability as a goal scorer, and while he didn’t find the back of the net in his first game as an NHLer, he certainly raised some eyebrows in other areas of the game. The big, 6-foot-2 winger didn’t hesitate to get involved defensively, making a couple noticeable plays away from the puck.
His best play of the game came late in the second period when he made a crucial block to keep the Hurricanes from doubling their lead. With Sandstrom out of position after a nice shot-pass from the point, Svechnikov had a clear look at a wide-open net, but Foerster got in the shooting lane just in the nick of time to squash the quality scoring chance.
Enormous defensive play by Tyson Foerster to block a shot with the net completely open. Flyers are lucky this is still a one-goal game. pic.twitter.com/AfqYTbpGUN— Ryan Quigley (@ryanquigz) March 10, 2023
It may not have been a statistically dazzling performance from Foerster, but it’s exactly the type of play sure to perk the ears of Tortorella, who irrefutably values a 200-foot effort from his players.
“Played very well. I thought he was one of the better players with the puck. With poise with the puck,” said Tortorella. “His first game against a top team like this, it’s encouraging. And I do, I thought he was one of our better players offensively.”
The Flyers are basically coasting to the end of the regular season at this point of the campaign. They have virtually no chance of qualifying for the playoffs, and losses have become quite welcome amongst a large portion of the fan base as the Connor Bedard lottery approaches.
But after watching Foerster prove himself in his debut, it’s becoming clearer that there is some meaning in the 17 remaining games of the season. It’s time to let the kids show what they’ve got.
Foerster did his part.
The Flyers wrap up their three-game road trip Saturday with a matinee game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’ll then return to Broad Street to commence a seven-game homestand, starting off Tuesday with a tilt against the Vegas Golden Knights at Wells Fargo Center.