Last year’s experience should help Lyon when he makes season debut

Alex Lyon

VOORHEES, N.J. – If Alex Lyon does make his season debut at Buffalo on Wednesday night, don’t worry about the Flyers’ rookie goaltender being overly nervous.

That’s because he’s already a grizzled veteran of 11 NHL games he took part in last season.

Coach Dave Hakstol wouldn’t confirm that the 25-year-old Yale University product will play against the Sabres, but with three games in four nights on the upcoming schedule, it’s a good bet Lyon will play in at least one of them.

Lyon impressed a lot of people with his work with the Flyers last season, posting a 4-2-1 record with a 2.75 goals-against average.

That experience should work in his favor for one of the upcoming games.

Lyon, who has spent much of this season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, was pressed into service because of a lower-body injury suffered by starting goaltender Brian Elliott, who is expected to be out of action about two weeks.

Obviously, the biggest adjustment is the difference in the speed of the NHL game vs. the AHL.

“It’s a little bit different (this time around), things aren’t as intimidating,’’ Lyon said after Tuesday’ practice at the Skate Zone. “Every time you get out there, things slow down a little bit.

“I’m not going to say it’s slow by any means because there are a lot of really good players. It just gets a little easier every time you come up.’’

Lyon turned in some strong efforts last season.

He earned his first NHL win over the Rangers in New York on Feb. 18 in relief of Michal Neuvirth. Two days later, he started against Montreal and came away with his first win as a starter.

Then, on March 15, he stopped all 18 shots he faced in another relief effort against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“I’m just going to try as hard as I can and the best I can,’’ he said. “If I do that, I can live with the results.’’

Jake Voracek gives the impression the Flyers have confidence in Lyon, who stopped 94 of 95 shots in a Phantoms’ five-overtime playoff game win over Charlotte last spring.

“He’s been really good in practice,’’ Voracek said. “Whenever he gets in, I’m sure he’s ready.’’

Hakstol will have to choose between Lyon and Calvin Pickard over this difficult stretch of games, which includes Friday’s annual Black Friday game against the Rangers in Philadelphia, followed by a visit to Toronto on Saturday night.

“Alex did a good job for us last year,’’ Hakstol said. “He was a solid player for us, gave us good, solid outings. Coming into camp this year, we wanted to see that next step from him.

“Obviously the camp was cut short with an injury but he’s been able to come back and play some good hockey in Lehigh Valley. The substance of the man hasn’t changed. When he’s called upon, he’ll be ready to go in and do a job for us.’’

 

>Flyers vets happy Berube back on an NHL bench

 

Several Flyers veterans – including Voracek, Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier – played for ex-coach Craig Berube when he was here between 2013-14 and 2014-15.

On Tuesday, the St. Louis Blues fired head coach Mike Yeo and replaced him, on an interim basis, with Craig Berube, who had been an assistant on Yeo’s staff.

Voracek was pleased to hear Berube is working again.

“We had a great relationship,’’ Voracek recalled. “He was hard on me but in a good way. You feel it, you sense it as a player, he wants you to do well. He helped me a lot in my career. In 2014-15, I had my best year.’’

 

Offense not an issue

 

Until the Flyers broke out with four goals late in Saturday’s 6-5 overtime loss to Tampa, they appeared to have been stuck in an offensive rut, with just two goals over their previous eight periods.

Hakstol said he’s not considering adjustments to his lines (or lineup) to produce more offense because it’s already there.

“In the last three games, we’ve generated more offense than the previous five games, on average,’’ he said. “The opportunities are coming, we just haven’t been able to finish.

“We talked about simplifying things, getting to the net. . .the little things in the greasy areas to have the floodgates open in the third period the other day was needed.’’

Wayne Fish
About Wayne Fish 456 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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