Alex Lyon Playing His Way Into Philadelphia Flyers Future

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 15: Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Alex Lyon (49) looks on from the net with Pennywise from Stephen King's "It" on his helmet during the NHL game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Philadelphia Flyers on March 15, 2018 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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While playing at Yale University, Alex Lyon knew what it took to be a winner. He was a two-time recipient of the Ken Dryden Award, given to the best goalie in the ECAC. He led the league in saves, shutouts and goals-against average in his rookie season. After three years at Yale, Lyon decided to forgo his senior season and signed an entry-level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers on April 5, 2016.

Flash forward to now and Lyon has played a pivotal role in the Flyers playoff chase. Called upon when Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth went down with injuries, Lyon has shined during his time in the NHL. It didn’t start out that way, however.

Alex Lyon Could Be Part Of Philadelphia Flyers Future

Alex Lyon never saw time in the NHL before being called up back on December 6th. He was in the midst of a sophomore season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in which he struggled. At the time, Lyon held an 8-6-1 record along with a 3.31 GAA and a .894 SV%. Lyon served as the back-up to Elliott and did not appear in a game.

That would not be the only call-up Lyon would see this season, however. Lyon has seen a total of ten movements this season, five of which were when he was called up to the Flyers. One of his biggest call-ups came on January 25th when he would see his first action in the league.

Lyon would make his first NHL start against the New Jersey Devils on February 2nd. It was not a start to remember, however.

Shaky Start For Alex Lyon

Lyon’s start against the Devils was not his first game in the NHL. Lyon would replace Neuvirth in the previous game against the Washington Capitals. In a 5-3 loss, Lyon would stop all five shots he faced in the third period.

This would lead to his first start against the Devils the following night. There were some clear early butterflies as Lyon would give up two goals on the first five shots he faced.

“I wasn’t very sharp in the first period,” Lyon said after the loss.  “I think my head was in the locker room. I just tried to battle and regroup. Unfortunately at the end there, that’s the main thing. You’ve got to find a way to get a point or two points at least. I’m disappointed.”

Things would settle down for Lyon after that. He showed his aggressiveness throughout, coming out of his blue paint a few times, along with better movements within the crease.

It would not be enough, though, as the Devils would score a pair of third-period goals to come away with the 4-3 victory.

Lyon made another start before being sent back down to the Phantoms. He would return about a week later and record his first NHL victory.

First Win At Madison Square Garden

Lyon was no stranger to the home of the New York Rangers. As a part of the Rivalry on Ice, Lyon was the net-minder for a Yale team that beat Harvard University by a score of 4-1. Lyon gave up just one goal on 21 shots. He would turn in a similar performance against the New York Rangers.

Lyon was called into action when Neuvirth left the game after the first period with a lower-body injury. In his fourth NHL game, Lyon would make 25 saves to record his first victory as the Flyers rolled past the Rangers by a score of 7-4.

When Lyon came into the game in the second period, it was after a high-paced 3-3 first period. Squaring off against Henrik Lundqvist is no easy task, especially when he has been spectacular against the Flyers.

Lundqvist would end up giving up seven goals while Lyon only gave up one goal.

“Coming into the middle of a game and playing well in relief — it’s never been something that I’ve prided myself on or even had to pride myself on because I never really encountered it,’’ Lyon said about having to come in. “To have that as another feather in my hat going forward will help me, I think.

Stretch Run Has Been Important

Since Lyon’s debut, the Flyers have been playing meaningful games just about every night. And Lyon has played a part in some of those. On the season, Lyon is 7-4-2 with a 2.75 GAA and a .905 SV%. In his last two starts, he has only given up a total of five goals. Both games ended with victories.

That has been important for a Flyers team that is still fighting to keep a playoff spot with two games remaining.

The Flyers do have other goaltenders making their way up the ranks, however. Carter Hart is finishing up his last season of juniors. Felix Sandstrom, while signed to another year in the SHL, will be coming over soon as well. There may not be a lot of time left for Lyon in a Flyers uniform.

But his play this season has certainly put him in the conversation to remain in the organization for the near future. Lyon will be a restricted free-agent this summer so the Flyers will have a decision to make. They will also have to make a decision on pending restricted free agent Anthony Stolarz.

With Elliott and Neuvirth both with another year on their contracts, it is unlikely Lyon will start next season in the NHL if he remains in Philadelphia. There is a small chance the Flyers try to move on from Neuvirth, but that is unlikely as well. It gives the Flyers an option if they need to make a call-up. And Lyon’s success in the NHL has proven that he is capable to play in this league.

There is some time before the Flyers need to make that decision, though. However, Alex Lyon has certainly played himself into another contract in Philadelphia, even if it’s a short-term one.

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