PHILADELPHIA – Alain Vigneault wasn’t taking any chances with veteran goaltender Brian Elliott’s health.
Rather than start him in back-to-back games, the Flyers coach decided to have backup goaltender Alex Lyon start against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Lyon was called up from Lehigh Valley on Wednesday after it was announced that No. 1 starter Carter Hart suffered a lower abdominal strain and is expected to miss two to three weeks.
“Brian had a good game last night (Wednesday’s 4-3 OT win at St. Louis) but it was not our easiest travel,’’ Vigneault said at a 5 p.m. press briefing. “It was in a different time zone.
“Alex has put in a lot of time this summer in Philly to work out. I thought he had a real good camp. And he’s been playing well (9-11-1, 2.56 goals-against average, .916 save percentage for a struggling Phantoms team). This is his best (season) start in Lehigh Valley. He’s coming off a shutout and he deserves to play.
Lyon was set to play in his 14th NHL game. Prior to the Montreal match, he had compiled an NHL record of 4-3-1 with a 3.05 GAA.
Vigneault said Joel Farabee, who was loaned to the Phantoms for one day in what amounted to a technical salary cap move (to allow for the promotion of Lyon), would return to the lineup and Chris Stewart, who played in St. Louis and then cleared waivers, would go to the bench.
The coach said he’s been pleased with his team’s recent play with wins over Washington, Boston and St. Louis, plus a narrow 1-0 loss to Tampa.
“We compete, we work hard,’’ Vigneault said. “We might not be the prettiest at times but our guys battled, we try and play the right way, a smart, up-tempo, north-south game. And we’ve been able to do that against some pretty good competition lately.’’
>Farabee focusing on two-way game
In 37 games, Farabee has recorded only three goals and a total of 12 points.
But he isn’t too concerned with offensive output. He just wants to make sure he’s not giving up much at the defensive end, which is respectable minus-1 would suggest.
On Tuesday, general manager Chuck Fletcher was hoping to get more ice time for Farabee, who’s averaging 14 minutes per game this season but more like 10 or 11 in recent contests.
“Obviously when ice time gets short you just try to produce the best you can,’’ Farabee said. “I don’t think necessarily I’m being used to produce a lot of points right now. I think more or less just stay even and not give up too many goals. That’s the role I’m given right now. That’s what I’m going to try and do.’’
>Laughton likes team’s bounce-back
The Flyers could have easily folded the tent after a 1-4-1 road trip and then playing those four aforementioned powerhouses. But they have responded well.
“ I think that’s the only way,’’ Laughton said. “We have to continue to push forward. I think we have the group in here that can kind of get past that stuff. Obviously it wasn’t the road trip we wanted but this is the way you had to respond against the top teams in the league. I think we did it.
“Everyone in that room believes and knows what’s going on. It definitely wasn’t a good road trip for our team, I don’t think anyone would say we played our hockey. You have to put that behind you and move on as quickly as possible. Definitely some positives, some individual efforts during the road trip but not a whole lot to take away from it.’’
>Clement, Fedoruk to help Lehigh Valley Special Hockey
On Jan. 25, Former Flyers Bill Clement and Todd Fedoruk will be on hand for the seventh annual Lehigh Valley Winter Classic, which helps raise money for Special Hockey in the Lehigh Valley.
Joining them will be NHL Hall-of-Fame referee Kerry Fraser.
Clement, a former long-time resident of Bucks County (now living in North Carolina), is returning as an ambassador for the prestigious event, which takes place at the Bethlehem Municipal Ice Rink. The game is hosted by the Lehigh Valley Whalers Club.
Money raised goes to the Lehigh Valley Polar Bears team, a member of the American Special Hockey Association and an affiliate of USA Hockey.
The all-day, outdoor hockey festival will kick off at 8:00 a.m. on on Saturday, Jan. 25.
The event’s hosts, the Whalers hockey club, will face off along with 17 other local hockey teams throughout the day, all of which help raise money for the event.
Clement, Fraser and Fedoruk will be available for autographs and photos with fans from 1:00 to 1:45 p.m. before they drop the puck for the feature game at 2., when the Lehigh Valley Polar Bears face off against another special hockey team the Bucks County Admirals.
Adam Bortz, Lehigh Valley Winter Classic Tournament director is excited about the return of the tournament.
“Giving kids that might not have the opportunity to participate in a game that has given so much to each of us on the team, has been a great experience,’’ Bortz said. “We feel fortunate to be aligned with such a great cause, and look forward to helping Special Hockey to continue to help expand their program in our community. We are thrilled that Bill, Todd and Kerry will be joining us again this year, and we can’t say enough about their willingness to step up to help support the event.”