Philadelphia Flyers: Alex Lyon provides hope moving forward


Alex Lyon may be surprise hope for the Philadelphia Flyers moving forward, despite all of the recent struggles by the team.

For the past eight games, the Philadelphia Flyers have squandered precious points in the ever so tight Metropolitan Division. The game against their rivals from Ohio against the Columbus Blue Jackets was a four pointe,r and once again the team was not up to the task. This does not bode well for the orange and black in the playoff picture as Columbus and the New Jersey Devils are breathing down their necks. Once again, the Flyers out played their opponent, but had nothing to show for their efforts.

The goalie of choice on Thursday, and was Petr Mrazek and he was not sharp. The fourth goal he allowed against the Blue Jackets in 10 shots was a stoppable one and he just didn’t seem up to the task. Head coach Dave Hakstol made the right choice starting Alex Lyon on Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes, and should consider using him more moving forward. After all, Lyon did come in and hold the fort stopping 18 shots and looked pretty steady for the most part against Carolina.

However, the Flyers do control their own destiny, and just have to clean up the coverage area of their game. The guys who aren’t scoring on a regular basis need to just do their jobs. Little plays are what separates the first-round playoff losers from the winners. That being said, you have to make the playoffs to have a chance to lose in the first round.

So in a nutshell, the Flyers have played as well enough to have more than three points out of 16 available the last eight games. And other than taking a puck to the face and scoring the first Flyers goal of the game (in three straight games), what else can Claude Giroux do for this team? Anybody reading this article who doesn’t think he deserves the Hart trophy this year, stop reading as that’s all you will here from the gang over at BSH and from yours truly. The club is letting him down and wasting his perhaps best season ever.

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The turning point in against Columbus was the whole first period where the refs didn’t feel like participating in their duties as on ice officials. Apparently, cross-checking a player from behind in front of the net (and official) was not worthy of a penalty or holding of the stick at crucial times and they were pretty blatant at that. Those calls change the whole scenario of being down 3-1 at the end of the first or a string of power-plays to shorten the bench and squelch the Blue Jackets momentum. Even better than that would have been a goal or two, which was a good possibility with the first units puck movement on the power play earlier and the Blue Jackets mediocre penalty kill.

Fans can blame it on the refs for a bad team, but these were game changing non-calls that at worst, as I mentioned, keeps some cold butts on the bench that would normally be taking their regular shifts. That itself is a crucial part of the game and the refs put their stamp of approval on the “letting them play” type of game and the Flyers suffered because of that, plain and simple.

The playoff picture is narrowing down towards the sunset. Will the Philadelphia Flyers be able to ride off into it?

Every point is needed and these last three games were absolutely necessary. The Flyers have to pull out of this spiral tailspin in Carolina or the playoff picture is going to be an ugly portrait. Now, everybody on this team from the coaches to the fourth liners have to be on the same page. This begins with coach Hakstol and his lineup decisions and line matchups.

This calls for in game tweaks and having a feel for the game as it is changing. It’s also time for him to bench Brandon Manning and keep Travis Sanheim as the sixth defenseman, actually scratch that, as the fourth defenseman and we’ll all live with his misgivings. If the Flyers spiral out of the playoffs, it should cost him Hakstol his job.

Skip to Saturday night in Raleigh where the Philadelphia Flyers had there backs against the wall, but Lyons came through by battling for the win.

Philadelphia sat down 1-0 and killing off 2:47 of the unforgivable high sticking penalty by none other than your favorite defenseman, Andrew MacDonald. Yes, that veteran defenseman who on one shift alone was responsible for three giveaways on zone clears. Somehow, the penalty killing units came up huge snuffed out Hurricanes power play. This in part was the kid Lyons, who battled every step of the way and looked very comfortable in between the pipes.

This decision by the coach (I’m sure you’ve realized I mentioned earlier in this article should be started against the Hurricanes) was the right choice, something new for Hakstol. As well, his line scrambling had mixed results as Michael Raffl and Travis Konecny switched lines and had good chances, especially the first line. But it was the third line with Konecny who came up big to tie the game at one all.

It didn’t last long, as the Hurricanes went ahead, but would never regain the lead as Lyons shut the door and Valtteri Filppula would score on a breakaway, after the giveaway in Carolina’s zone (via the linesman getting in his way) and Raffl would score the empty netter to get off the snide. Much needed secondary scoring a solid goaltending were the keys to this huge road win. Sunday’s game against the Washington Capitals is all of a sudden another big one, and it will be interesting to see how things turn out for the Flyers.