Flyers, Ersson finish ‘California Sweep’ in Anaheim, 4-1

Flyers' Samuel Ersson
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Samuel Ersson blocks a shot by the Anaheim Ducks during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Only five slots separate the Philadelphia Flyers from the Anaheim Ducks in the 2022-2023 NHL standings, but these were two teams with different stories.

Look no further than the last ten games. The Flyers were 4-4-2 in their bundle, losing by a margin of more than a goal once. The Ducks lost by at least three goals in each of their regulation losses during their last ten (3-6-1.) One team is playing hard hockey while the other isn’t.

Forechecking told the story in the first. The team playing the hardest possessed the puck. Noah Cates kept the pressure in the offensive zone, which turned into a Joel Farabee goal to begin the scoring. Later, Morgan Frost sniped from just above the faceoff circle after a successful offensive zone entry. Philadelphia led on the scoreboard, 2-0.

In the second, the Flyers became a little undisciplined. The middle frame was a testament to Samuel Ersson, who shined brightly in defending two Anaheim powerplays. Rasmus Ristolainen continued to clog shooting lanes, excelling on the penalty kill. Travis Konecny extended the lead on a slam dunk one-timer, 3-0. At their worst in this contest, Tortorella outcoached Dallas Eakins.

Scott Laughton grew the Philadelphia lead to 4-0 with a wrap-around after a smooth give-and-go with Hayes. Everything was coming up Ersson after another penalty kill to finish 5/5 on the night. Unfortunately, he didn’t secure the shutout. With less than a minute remaining, Ryan Strome accepted a feed from behind the net before beating Ersson. Nonetheless, he secured a 4-1 victory and improved to 3-0-0 in the NHL.

A Team Win (+)

Four players had multi-point evenings. Cates, Farabee, Hayes, and Konecny all tallied two points. However, Tortorella claimed the win was about more than those individual performances.

“Everybody chipped in; just played a simple game, tried to go straight-ahead.”

John Tortorella; 1/2/2023

The Flyers allowed the game to slip away during the second period but remained stubborn on the forecheck and penalty kill. Ersson and Ristolainen held the Ducks out of the back of the net during the middle frame.

“Everybody did a good job away from the puck. Second period, after a powerplay, we lost ourselves a little bit; went a little east-west. That’s when Ers stood in there and made some good saves for us.”

John Tortorella; 1/2/2023

Cam York contributed to a team victory in front of his family in Anaheim, a win-win when Tortorella is daring you to be the game-breaker.

Sam Ersson (+)

Ersson swept California. He won over Tortorella, earning praise after his third victory.

“He’s just not afraid. He just plays. This was probably the calmest he’s looked in net in his starts.”

John Tortorella; 1/2/2023

In his debut, Ersson had a tough evening against the Carolina Hurricanes. Tortorella pulled him, then Carter Hart was injured, and Ersson had to re-enter. That was his first NHL experience, and in three games since, he went undefeated.

“I’m still adapting a little bit, but I did feel today’s game was definitely my best game yet. [I’m] starting to feel more comfortable out there with the reads and pace of the game.”

Samuel Ersson; 1/2/2023

On the road, the goaltending situation in Philadelphia might’ve begun to figure itself out.

Up Next

Next, the Philadelphia Flyers host the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, January 5th, 2023. The puck drops at 7pm.

(AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)