Flyers

Felix Sandstrom hungry to prove he's not the 'other' goalie in Flyers' system

Felix Sandstrom hungry to prove he's not the 'other' goalie in Flyers' system

Felix Sandstrom stood there surrounded by a pack of reporters and cameras pointed at him after the first on-ice session of the Flyers’ development camp in Voorhees, New Jersey.

This time around, Sandstrom wasn’t the other goalie in camp, even if, in a way, he still was.

Sandstrom answered question after question about what happened in 2017-18.

Was it an abdominal injury? No, stomach issues.

Did he require surgery? He did not.

Was it even an injury? It wasn’t.

Instead, what plagued Sandstrom last season was an illness in his throat and stomach connected to the mononucleosis that he battled during his draft year in 2014-15.

“It was tough, but I learned a lot,” Sandstrom said. “You get stronger in the tougher times. I think I grew as a person. I learned a lot about myself, how I handle stuff and how I should handle stuff.”

Times have changed. During last summer’s development camp, Sandstrom sat at his stall and answered questions from a handful of reporters while the rest of the pack was with Carter Hart.

The Flyers have a goalie problem. Don’t stop if you’ve heard that before. You have. They have too many or too few depending on your worldview. But everyone’s waiting for Hart to solve it.

Hart has become somewhat of a legend in Delaware Valley, kind of like Bigfoot, except Hart has better hair. Flyers fans soon will see firsthand what Hart can do. He turns pro in 2018-19.

It’s easy to lump Sandstrom and Hart together, and it’s even easier after last season to forget about Sandstorm. Last July, there was talk about the two being the Flyers’ future tandem.

Now? Sandstrom is almost an afterthought when it comes to the goaltending picture.

At least from the outside.

“Sometimes with the way the world is today,” Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said, “people talk about one person and not another person, especially at that position. We all know there’s only one in the net so you only need one. So people talk about one. We’re very high on Felix. He’s a real competitor. He’s a really hard worker. He’s a hungry hockey player right now.”

While it’s true Sandstrom had a difficult 2017-18, it’s unfair to say he took a step back without heavily prefacing it with the circumstances — he missed two months because of the illness.

On the surface, the numbers dipped but not by much if we look at save percentage. Sandstrom played a total of 18 games between three teams — Brynäs IF and HV71 in the SHL and IK Oskarshamn on a loan to Allsvenskan — and had a combined .900 save percentage. But if we look at the save percentage in the SHL, Sandstrom posted a .904 save percentage in 11 games. In 22 games with Brynäs IF in 2016-17, he had a .908 save percentage.

That’s not to say Sandstrom did not struggle. His goals-against average increased and did so considerably. Combined, he had a 2.85 GAA. In the SHL, it was 2.73, a far cry from his 2.25 clip in 2016-17. We’ll find out soon enough how much the illness affected the 21-year-old goalie.

Sandstrom signed his three-year entry-level contract with the Flyers on March 28 but has one year left on his contract with HV71. The plan is for him to spend another year in Sweden.

Sound familiar? Perhaps it should. Last summer, many believed Sandstrom would come overseas for 2018-19, but the illness and missed time pushed that timetable back another year.

“You’re a young kid and you’ve never really been this before and how you handle it, how much of a pro you are, how you are with your teammates,” Hextall said. “It makes you hungry as a goalie. You can never really let your level drop. … I think he’s going to have a bang-up year.”

As Hartmania only gets louder now that he’ll very likely be a short hour-and-a-half drive away, Sandstrom will return to the SHL with a chip on his shoulder.

To prove that he still remains a highly-regarded NHL goalie prospect.

That he isn’t just the other goalie in the Flyers’ organization.

Don’t sleep on Sandstrom. As Jason Kelce says, hungry dogs run faster.

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Flyers mascot Gritty surprises patients at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Flyers mascot Gritty surprises patients at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Gritty and the Flyers' ice team brought smiles to the faces of patients on the oncology floor at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

It was an awesome surprise Wednesday as the Flyers provided Love Your Melon hats and tickets to the team's Hockey Fights Cancer game on Nov. 25 against the Canucks.

Gritty and company took pictures, handed out gifts and, most importantly, gave the kids a fun day (which you can watch in the video above, with footage courtesy of the Flyers).

The Flyers truly do wonderful work in the community and so does the NHL with its Hockey Fights Cancer initiative.

(AP Images/Matt Slocum)

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Morgan Frost provides a highlight but Flyers are left looking for more answers following 4th straight loss

Morgan Frost provides a highlight but Flyers are left looking for more answers following 4th straight loss

BOX SCORE

Morgan Frost offered a snapshot of what the Flyers hope is a prosperous future for the skillful playmaker.

The present on Tuesday night did not depict as pretty of a picture.

The Flyers fell behind 4-1 during the second period, Carter Hart was yanked and a 5-2 loss to the Panthers at BB&T Center marked the final result.

Frost gave the Flyers a highlight on a night that didn't feature many for Alain Vigneault's club. The 2017 first-round pick deposited a dazzling goal in his NHL debut but the Flyers (10-7-4) dropped their fourth straight game, a losing skid that has come directly after a season-best four-game winning streak.

The Panthers (11-5-5) can score goals with the best teams in the NHL. They were also allowing 3.55 per game, fourth worst in the league, but kept the Flyers at bay.

• Hart had been so good in November. When he's not on his game, the Flyers can be exposed, which is exactly what happened against Florida.

The 21-year-old goalie entered 4-1-1 with a 1.77 goals-against average and .934 save percentage this month. He wasn't good Tuesday, the Flyers didn't help him and things unraveled.

The first period set the tone when the Panthers' first goal went off Andy Andreoff's stick. Then Hart allowed Brett Connolly to score from a crazy angle off the netminder's back.

Hart had allowed only one first-period goal over his previous five starts. Florida got him twice in the opening frame and ended his night midway through the second period with its fourth goal.

• The Flyers have now allowed more goals (61) than they've scored (60). During the four-game losing streak, they've scored 1.75 goals per game.

Vigneault continues to plead for more from his veterans. They simply have not answered his call and the Flyers are more than a quarter way into the season. The Flyers' record is very indicative of what they've received from their big boys.

Kevin Hayes recorded his first point in 10 games with a first-period assist on Travis Sanheim's goal. He played 19:01 minutes, four-plus at shorthanded. James van Riemsdyk went scoreless and played 12:56, his second-lowest ice time of the season. Jakub Voracek went scoreless, as well, in 15:31 minutes.

That trio has combined for 30 points in 21 games. The Flyers have to find a way to spark those three, along with Claude Giroux.

• Frost was a nice positive. He played with pace, he was active and was consistently a threat. His goal was very Frost-like.

Expect Vigneault to give him another game with Giroux and Travis Konecny.

• Joel Farabee made a costly turnover that led to Aleksander Barkov's second-period goal, which put the Flyers in a 3-1 hole. The Flyers were also slow to get back on the play. Bad all the way around (see highlights).

The 19-year-old was a minus-2 with three giveaways. He's a kid and there will be growing pains. Farabee snapped his stick in frustration when he went to the bench. Now it's a matter of seeing if he can play his way out of some struggles.

• Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen were a combined minus-5. Shayne Gostisbehere played only 14:33. While the Panthers pounced on mistakes, the Flyers couldn't fend them off or get much going at 5-on-5.

The Flyers went 0 for 2 on the power play.

• The Flyers stay on the road and visit the Hurricanes Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

 

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