Stuck with their first three-game losing streak since December, the Flyers got a bit of good news about their goaltending on Friday.
General manager Ron Hextall disclosed that No. 1 starter Brian Elliott, who has been on injured reserve with a lower-body injury the past nine days, might be ready for Tuesday’s game at Carolina.
While Elliott has been sidelined, Michal Neuvirth has played two games, losing both to Tampa and Washington.
Rookie Alex Lyon made his NHL debut on Thursday night and played well but for the first time this season the Flyers still lost after securing a second intermission lead in a 4-3 defeat at New Jersey.
The Flyers have one more game, Saturday afternoon at home against Ottawa, before Elliott’s likely return.
Originally, it looked like Elliott might be day to day. He participated in a morning skate prior to the Tampa game but was a late scratch.
“A little bit longer (than anticipated),’’ said Hextall, who has been monitoring Elliott’s recovery. “After a few minutes (on the ice Friday) he was feeling good. That’s a good sign. Hopefully (he can play) Carolina.’’
Hextall gave Lyon passing marks for his work against the Devils.
“I thought he was good, he was better as the game went along,’’ Hextall said. “First period, it looked like he was a little bit nervous, wasn’t moving like he was capable.
“He battled through and obviously the ending (he allowed the winning goal with 1:27 to play) could go better. But it was a solid performance.’’
It seems like both Hextall and coach Dave Hakstol have enough faith to keep Lyon in the picture if another injury pops up down the stretch.
“You never know when things like this happen,’’ Hextall said. “The more experience Alex gets, the better for him, the better for us. Experience is a good thing. It’s not easy to come to this level. . .the light is bright, especially in net.
“For him, the first game is nerve-racking and I thought he handled it well. He’s a great kid. He works hard, he’s got a real good understanding of the game, what he needs to work on. A very mature individual.’’
Penalty kill woes
Hextall addressed the Flyers’ big sore spot on special teams, namely the penalty kill.
Losing Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft didn’t help matters any.
That said, the guys killing it this year aren’t setting the world on fire either.
The Flyers have been hovering around 29th place in the NHL at about 75 percent for the past couple months and there have been few signs of improvement.
Two power-play goals allowed at New Jersey on Thursday night probably cost them the game.
“It certainly has been a struggle,’’ Hextall said. “We have to be better – whether it’s a stick in a lane or an angle, disrupting the breakout. We have to be better all around.
“When you’re at the bottom of the league, there’s more than one little thing to be better. So we have a lot of work to do, for sure.’’
The Flyers also have scored only two shorthanded goals, tied for last in the NHL.
How much of the problem is structure and how much of it is players?
“It’s both, it’s everything,’’ Hextall said. “Your best penalty killer is your goalie and our goalies haven’t necessarily been at fault.
“Last year I thought our goaltending (Steve Mason, Neuvirth) on the PK was not very good. This year, it’s been better. So you eliminate that and you look at where you’re giving up shots.’’
Hextall sounds like he wants the PK to be a little more proactive, a little more aggressive.
If assistant coach Ian Laperriere, who oversees the penalty kill, is listening, take note.
“I just think we need to pressure people at more opportune times,’’ Hextall said. “Read things a little better individually. Sticks in the right lane. We clearly have to do a better job collectively.’’
Don’t look for reinforcements from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Hextall says there’s a big difference between the NHL and the AHL. Plus, you can’t bring a player up just to specialize in what amounts to a fraction of playing time in a 60-minute game.
“There’s a big difference between killing penalties up there (Allentown) and down here,’’ Hextall said. “You can be a great penalty killer up there and down here it’s a totally different game.
“Even if we have good penalty killers up there, to think they can come down here and be a top guy, that’s a little bit unrealistic.’’
With Taylor Leier getting back into action on Thursday and earning an assist on the Flyers’ third goal, the Flyers decided to send rookie forward Tyrell Goulbourne back to the Phantoms on Friday.
In nine games, Goulbourne registered no points with a minus-2.