VOORHEES, N.J. – It could have been a lot worse, but two weeks is two weeks and the Flyers will have to make do without starting goaltender Brian Elliott for that span.
Some observers thought Elliott’s lower-body injury might be a lot worse when he pulled himself from action at 13:52 of the third period in Thursday night’s 3-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils at the Wells Fargo Center.
Given that Elliott has had hip and core muscle surgeries over the past year, there was some fear this might be another one of those month or more problems – or maybe even surgery.
Somewhat surprisingly, general manager Ron Hextall didn’t sound like he dodged a bullet.
“It was worse than I had expected,’’ Hextall said after Friday’s practice at the Skate Zone. “But that’s the way it is.’’
With Michal Neuvirth still on the shelf, the Flyers had to call up Alex Lyon from the Phantoms.
“Neuvy was on the ice yesterday,’’ Hextall said. “It’s a gradual increase here. We’ll see in the next couple days where it goes but I don’t have a timeline.’’
Hextall added he expects to have Neuvirth back sometime before the two-week injury leave for Elliott expires.
Lyon was called up briefly a couple weeks ago when Neuvirth was injured and the Flyers needed a back-up for a game in Arizona.
The 25-year-old Lyon played in 11 games for the Flyers last year (4-2-1, 2.75 goals-against average, .905 save percentage).
For the time being, Calvin Pickard will be the No. 1 goalie, with Lyon in a back-up role.
Hextall left the door open for possibly going outside the organization for additional help.
Last year, he acquired Petr Mrazek from the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 10 after Elliott went down with the core muscle injury.
Hextall said he knew what he was getting into when he opted to go into the season with two aging, oft-injured goalies such as Elliott and Neuvirth.
“There’s always risk,’’ he said. “Obviously, Neuvy’s history says he’s a high risk. Brian doesn’t. He’s not a young guy but he did have an injury last year and got it fixed.
“Those are hard things to predict. We felt Alex was close enough. We feel we have some depth that can help us out and right now we need them to help us out.’’
Would Hextall go the trade route?
“We’re always looking to upgrade our team if we can,’’ Hextall said. “We picked Calvin up because we believed in him. We believe Alex is pretty close. They’re going to have a chance here and we’ll see where it goes.’’
Lyon, splitting time with Carter Hart and Anthony Stolarz in Lehigh Valley, has a 2-2 record with the Phantoms (3.54 GAA, .910 save percentage).
For the Flyers, Pickard is 3-1-1 with a 4.33 GAA and .865 SP.
Lyon isn’t thinking big picture right now. He just wants to get his bearings and sort of take it day by day.
“I just got the call at 10:30 last night,’’ he said. “I’m just still trying to get into the NHL mindset.’’
The information he took away from last year’s experience with the Flyers should be helpful for these next two weeks.
“In terms of staying here, I’ve been here the last couple summers,’’ he said. “Getting experience last year obviously is huge. It’s just belief, that’s 95 percent of the battle – believing that you can do it.
“I guess at this point I just feel more comfortable with myself and just ready for whatever opportunity there may be. Just take it a day at a time and just let it fly. Let the chips fall where they may.’’
The Yale University product sees the game through an educated eye. Goalies who think the game well often succeed.
“When you switch teams, there are different personalities, you have to adjust,’’ he said. “Different coaching styles, different mood in the locker room. It all takes an emotional adjustment and it doesn’t happen like that.
“It just takes a little time and I’m getting better and better every time I do it to switch. But going to Arizona and back can be taxing emotionally as much as it is physically.’’
Radko Gudas, who missed Thursday’s game due to illness, practiced on Friday and will be back in the lineup for Saturday’s game against Tampa.
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