VOORHEES, N.J. – Given all the turmoil at the Flyers’ goaltending position the past couple weeks, word of Brian Elliott’s return to good health was welcome news at Monday’s practice.
Elliott sounds good to go for Tuesday night’s game at Carolina. He’s been out the past four games (Flyers were 0-3-1) with a lower-body injury.
The Flyers had to rely on secondary starter Michal Neuvirth, who was weakened by a stomach virus and was eventually pulled from a 5-3 loss at Washington last Wednesday night.
That led coach Dave Hakstol to give rookie Alex Lyon his NHL debut start the following night in New Jersey.
Lyon played fairly well but eventually gave up the winning goal with 1:27 to play.
Lyon then made a second straight start but was pulled in the third period in favor of Neuvirth for Saturday’s 4-3 shootout loss to Ottawa.
Elliott made it through a complete practice on Monday and looks forward to getting back.
“I feel good,’’ he said. “You try to take precautions so you’re not coming back too early. But when you feel good, you feel confident, you just want to get out there and play.’’
The veteran netminder was originally thought to be just day-to-day back on Jan. 25. But the injury lingered and it was tough to watch as Neuvirth struggled and Lyon got his feet wet.
“You never want to watch your team lose,’’ Elliott said. “I thought it was really good for our group to come back and tie that last game up (Ottawa) and get that point, it was good for us.
“Hopefully we can take that third period mentality of taking it to the other team and bringing it to this last part of the season here because every game is going to be a battle.’’
Shayne Gostisbehere was blunt with his assessment of what it was like playing without Elliott.
“I think Neuvy and Lyon did their best for what they could do,’’ Gostisbehere said. “I think having ‘Moose’ back is going to bring our game back up a level.
“Obviously Neuvy and Lyon did some good things for us but Moose is ready.’’
Ghost has been impressed with Elliott’s consistency.
“It’s huge for us,’’ the defenseman said. “He’s been making that big save for us every game. Stealing us games, that’s what you need. If you’re going to be a playoff team, you need a goaltender that steals some games for you.’’
Hakstol likes what Elliott brings to the team both on the ice and off it.
“He’s done a really good job on the ice but he also has that presence in our dressing room,’’ Hakstol said. “I think very quickly and very quietly he’s become one of the guys who controls the pulse of our team. That’s an important presence to have back in our lineup.’’
After practice, Lyon was returned to the Phantoms.
Taylor Leier has played so well the last two games since being returned to the lineup that another rookie, Tyrell Goulbourne, was returned to the Phantoms.
On Monday, Leier was promoted from the fourth line to the third line and reunited with Scott Laughton and Jordan Weal, a unit that enjoyed some success on the Flyers’ three-game sweep of western Canada back in early December.
Hakstol put Michael Raffl on a line with Valtteri Filppula and Jori Lehtera.
When will Brian Elliott return. We need some serious help