With Elliott out, the top goaltender task falls back on Neuvirth

Michal Neuvirth of the Philadelphia Flyers

LAS VEGAS – It’s not like the Flyers haven’t been through this before but it never seems to get easier.
They just put together a three-game winning streak to move them into third place in the Metro Division.
And then, in the blink of an eye, their top goaltender, Brian Elliott, goes down with a freak injury on Saturday night at Arizona, clouding up the netminding picture once again.
Elliott was in the midst of a shootout at the Coyotes when a high stick to the face caused him to fall awkwardly, suffering a lower-body injury in the process.
Michal Neuvirth entered the game and kept the Coyotes off the board, allowing the Flyers to pull out their first shootout win of the season, a 4-3 decision, in the seventh round of the tiebreaker.
On Sunday, the Flyers announced that Elliott will be reevaluated on Monday back in Philadelphia.
Neuvirth started Sunday night’s game at the Golden Knights and Alex Lyon was recalled from the Phantoms to serve as backup.
Of immediate concern is the severity of Elliott’s injury and how long he might take to recover.
Back on Jan. 25, Elliott was a late scratch for the Tampa game and later was place on seven-day injured reserve. He actually missed four games and the Flyers were winless (0-3-1) in his absence.
Would a lengthy Elliott sidelining do serious damage to the Flyers’ playoff hopes?
Well, the Flyers are keeping a stiff upper lip, saying all the right things about Neuvirth.
But the fact of the matter is, Neuvirth was only playing in his 18th game on Sunday night and he entered the game with a 6-7-2 record.
His goals-against average (2.61) is slightly better than Elliott’s (2.72) but that doesn’t mean much compared to Elliott’s record of 21-11-7.
That 0-3-1 record with Neuvirth and Lyon in goal won’t work down the stretch. The Flyers allowed an average of 4.50 goals in those four games.
“There were a couple games there where – (if) you call a spade a spade – I think in a couple games, ‘Neuvy’ wasn’t at his best,’’ coach Dave Hakstol said before the game at T-Mobile Arena. “I think he would tell you the exact same thing.
“There were a couple games where our team wasn’t at our best. We have to make sure we go and do the things that give us success. Whoever is in net, our team has confidence in him.’’
Defenseman Andrew MacDonald hopes the Flyers can get through this stretch, no matter how long Elliott is out.
“He’s been great for us all year,’’ MacDonald said. “When he came back there (from the Jan. 25), his three starts he played really well, we got three wins out of it.
“He’s not in tonight but we know we have a great goalie in Neuvy, who can step in and do the job. Everyone will play hard for him.’’
MacDonald says the Flyers have faith in Neuvirth.
“We have plenty of confidence,’’ MacDonald said. “I think from the start of the year it was kind of a 1A-1B combination. ‘Moose’ (Elliott) got real hot and ran with it.
“Regardless of what injuries we had, we knew we were going to have to rely on Neuvy throughout the season and it’s no exception now.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2418 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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