The Buffalo Sabers are still the Buffalo Sabers.
Even nearing their first successful season and making the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, they can still break down and look like they’re trying to fight for Connor McDavid one more time.
With the Sabers not really caring about shooting the puck and letting the Flyers run over them in a three-goal first third, Samuel Ersson earned a shutout in his fifth appearance and fourth start in the NHL, and the Flyers earned secured a well deserved 4-0 win with a pinch of offense, mediocre defense and a really good guy in the whistle.
Before this game could even get going and after just a few whistles, the most unlikely goalscorer managed to score a goal that exemplified his game.
Zack MacEwen managed to get onto the board, his first goal in 28 games, and he did it by barely looking at the puck. The fourth line worked its way through the ice to try to disrupt the Buffalo net and somehow the puck ended up in the back of the net after taking a few hits from some bodies. Scoring goals without real intent or attempting a shot is a skill and MacEwen has shown it.
The Flyers continued to have an unusual attack boost as the Sabers essentially allowed them to waltz right into their zone and force some saves. Philadelphia had the first six shots on goal in the game and Buffalo needed a winning streak and a breakaway to get their first real chance against Samuel Ersson.
And that, of course, led to another easy zone entry and another shot on goal that went past Craig Anderson. This time the puck actually came off a stick.
You can almost hear a soft woopwoopwoopwoopwaaaaah as Anderson pulls off his best curly impression for a Three Stooges tribute act.
Aside from the stumbling keeper, Joel Farabee absolutely rocked it after exposing a Buffalo defender for being a bit careless with the puck at his own blue line. That laser was Farabee’s ninth goal of the season and he has now scored in three of his last four games. Damn beautiful!
Just 87 seconds after Farabee’s goal, Noah Cates came on as the Flyers were rewarded for their avalanche of chances in the first period.
It wasn’t as pure a goal as Farabee’s Snipe, or as whimsically silly as MacEwen’s, but it was simple, pure and clean hard work that saw Cates score his fifth goal of the season with impressive all-team foresight that put the Sabers under pressure.
The first half ends with the Flyers up three goals and in more control of the game than they have at any time this season (probably). Compared to the two Sabers, they already had nine dangerous chances and a total of 18 (!) more shot attempts than their opponents. Nice hockey. It was weird.
While the middle frame wasn’t as fun or exciting or full of those good things known as “goals,” it only pushed the Flyers further into dominance over their opponent by knocking them out and letting Ersson handle the rest.
Due to the nature of the sport and earnings effects, Buffalo managed to tackle more in the second period than in the first, ending with more than twice as many shot attempts and a lot more everything else. Still, Ersson stood on his head and seemed perfectly comfortable taking that time as his own and erasing any defensive errors from the Flyers’ blue line. Honestly, it’s weird to see anyone other than Carter Hart do something like that.
The second period ended with zero hits during the 20 minutes, leaving the Flyers still leading by three goals and scoring a wonderful 29 shots on goal. it was crazy
Early in the third half, the Flyers went ahead and extended their lead after failing to score in the 20 minutes prior.
Wade Allison scores his fifth goal of the season with a typical Wade Allison goal, where he just knew where to be and let his centerman Kevin Hayes do most of the work to earn the record.
After that, the Flyers really let everything go. The Sabers had the puck so damn much and had a damn lot of offensive control compared to our favorite team. In a 5-on-5 game, the Flyers managed just seven full shots in the entire third period; They’re just sitting completely on the backfoot hoping they can get enough saves from Ersson to hold a well-deserved 28-save shutout.
Somehow Ersson’s record remains a perfect 4-0-0 and he makes some decisions even harder for this team. In any case, it was nice to see this team dominating and winning, even if we don’t want to think about that in the summer.
Can Samuel Ersson do this forever?
There is a schedule for the Flyers’ goalie situation. Carter Hart is here, Samuel Ersson is here and Felix Sandstrom is in the AHL in a condition stint that can only last 14 days. So the Flyers have some time to make their decision, but unfortunately Ersson is the only one not sending waivers to Lehigh Valley, but come on. Some performances like that require you to send Sandstrom (who has a .888 save rate in the NHL, so it’s not like he’s going to be claimed anyway) into the AHL and keep Ersson where he’s thriving.
The depth rating is nice to see
Even though Travis Konecny clearly wanted to get in on the scoring fun, he still finished the game with two assists and more depth, the boys are getting in on the fun. None of the four players who scored for the Flyers tonight have scored in double digits mid-season, so it generally feels like a healthier win than just relying on Konecny to play all of the offensively takes on heavy tasks.
Next up on Wednesday, the Flyers host the Washington Capitals, a game that oddly could go either way. However, we know that Alex Ovechkin will score at least one goal.