Most people alive today have no idea who Gerald V. Hern was. So, indulge me for a minute, because I want to channel his creativity.

Hern was the sports editor in the late 1940s of a long-since defunct newspaper known as the Boston Post. In 1948, the Boston Braves were making a late season push to win the National League pennant and they were riding their two aces on the mound – Hall of Famer Warren Spahn and his compadre, Johnny Sain.

The rest of the pitching staff left a lot to be desired, and the Braves started either Spahn or Sain 17 times in the final 29 games of the season, which encompassed 33 days and included seven doubleheaders, either scheduled, or the result of makeups due to inclement weather.

During one of the gaps in the September schedule, one created by unplayable conditions thanks to a severe thunderstorm, Hern needed to come up with something to write about the Braves to be included in the September 14th edition of the Post

So, he wrote a poem.

Part of the poem went like this:

First we’ll use Spahn,

Then we’ll use Sain, 

Then an off day,

Followed by rain.

Back will come Spahn

Followed by Sain

And followed,

We hope,

By two days of rain.

The refrain of the poem went viral, all across Boston. It was shortened to the saying that has become part of baseball lore for decades since, “Spahn and Sain then pray for rain.”

Thanks to the rubber arms of Spahn and Sain, those Braves accomplished their mission and won the pennant, advancing to the 1948 World Series where they lost to the Cleveland Indians, the last time a baseball team in Cleveland won a championship.

Now, some 75-plus years later, in a different sport, in a different town, there needs to be another cry for the overuse of a particular player for another sports team to make the playoffs.

Meet the Philadelphia Flyers, who at the moment, have just one goalie they can rely on – and he’s a rookie.

Sam Ersson has been very good this season. He’s been the guy the team has had to turn to in he wake of Carter Hart being charged by London, Ontario police in the Hockey Canada investigation. He played great in the game on Saturday against the New York Rangers, despite the 2-1 loss.

But Ersson can’t play every game. He’ll play most of them, but a backup is going to have to play a handful down the stretch.

Sunday, it was Cal Petersen’s turn and boy was he terrible, allowing seven goals in a 7-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

So, in an homage to Mr. Hern, and his famous baseball prose, I wanted to come up with some option for the Flyers as they make their unexpected push to the 2023-24 postseason:

We start with Ersson,

Then there’s some other person,

And when that happens, things only worsen.


Cruising to the playoffs, in net we trust Ers,

With him, the path to the postseason we can traverse,

 Anyone else currently available is a risk too perverse, 

And too much of those guys, will put this season in a hearse.*

OK, maybe I’m no Gerald V. Hern, but the reality is, the Flyers have a conundrum on their hands at the moment. They weren’t expecting to be a contender for a playoff spot, and yet here they are. They’re dealing with injuries, and trying to hang on, and there’s a gauntlet of good teams awaiting them in their final 23 games.

Right now, they don’t have anyone they can rely on in goal beside Ersson.

Petersen has made two starts this month. One, he won against Seattle, but the Kraken didn’t really test him. The other was the Penguins on Sunday, and that was flat out ugly.

They will go back to Ersson for their game Tuesday against Tampa and likely the game Friday night in Washington, as the Capitals are one of the teams chasing them.

Then they come home to face an Ottawa team Saturday that they’ve lost to twice this season. It’s another back-to-back game. Do they go to a backup goalie for that one? Or do they ask Ersson to suck it up and play both games next weekend?

Do they replace Petersen with Felix Sandstrom, who is the lead dog in Lehigh Valley with the Phantoms, but frankly hasn’t played well there either?

Or do they look to get someone else on the cheap?

Is Danny Briere scouring the scrap heap for someone, anyone, who could win a couple of games?

Or do they hold their nose, go with what they have, and wait and see if Alexei Kolosov can assimilate quickly to the North American game once his KHL season is over?

Kolosov’s team, Dynamo Minsk, is the No. 8 seed in the KHL playoffs and will face No. 1 seed Dynamo Moscow in the first round. Expectations are that this will be a quick series, but one never knows in playoff hockey.

Still, with the expectation that he can be eliminated quickly, the Flyers can get their Belarussian prospect over here as soon as mid-March. I have to imagine they’d want to see him with the Phantoms first before considering him for the NHL, but he remains an intriguing possibility.

Either way, the Flyers are going to try to make the playoffs. That doesn’t mean they’re going to be buyers at the deadline. It just means that they are going to try to hold on to a spot and see what this group can do once it gets there.

They’ve earned it. They deserve a chance to prove themselves and to get the taste of what the NHL playoffs are like. And they play a style that would make them a hard out against anyone. Ask the Rangers how tough that game was Saturday.

As such, they owe it to themselves to do what they can to help Ersson out, all while not burning valuable assets to do it. GM Danny Briere has to thread the needle with this one.

And if he finds a way to help his team now, while maintaining a keen eye on their long-term improvement, well then that would be poetic justice.

*Kinkead: This is the best poetry on the site since the award-winning 15 Eagles Haiku Poems After Abysmal Loss to Jets