Flyers Goaltending Questions Loom

With a new season just days away for the Philadelphia Flyers, the final roster is shaping up in the midst of the final preseason games. Everything seems to be set in stone with the exception of a few things; one of them being goaltending.

In recent years, dependable goaltending has plagued Philadelphia. The last two seasons alone have seen six different netminders play between the pipes all with different results. Now, going into the current season, the Flyers goaltending situation is already shaping up to be another potential carousel ride.

Dynamic Duo?

As the projected starter, 33-year-old Brian Elliott enters his second and possibly final season with the team. Elliott played 43 games last season missing just over a month of time with a core muscle injury. His .909 save percentage and 2.66 goals against average landed him 24th among active goalies. The veteran goaltender has seen limited action in the preseason with a combined four periods in two games. His most recent performance, his first full start, ended as a 4-3 loss to the Bruins on Monday night as he stopped 24 of 28 shots. Elliott will most likely start the season as Philadelphia’s No. 1 goalie, yet his consistency and injury tendency remain two big factors in how his year will play out.

Nothing New for Neuvy

Perhaps the biggest wildcard in net for the Flyers is steady backup Michal Neuvirth. Entering his fourth season with Philadelphia, the 30-year-old has already been sidelined by yet another injury. Per CBS Sports, it was announced on Sept. 21 that Neuvirth would miss time with a groin injury suffered during a team practice. No timetable has been determined as to when he will return. Playing in a mere 22 games last season, the Czech goalie put up nine wins with a 2.60 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage. If Neuvirth misses more significant time this season then he could see himself out of the picture when it comes to donning the orange and black.

Brian Elliott Michal Neuvirth Flyers
Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, Philadelphia Flyers, Dec. 2, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Another goaltender plagued by injury is the young Alex Lyon. At 25 years old, the dependable Lehigh Valley Phantoms saw action with the big club last year as well. Winning four of 11 games with the Flyers, Lyon played an arguably significant role in keeping the team’s playoff hopes alive. Now, he finds himself out of action for an estimated four weeks with a lower-body injury according to NBC Sports. The injury doesn’t only hurt the Flyers yet could very well impact the Phantoms’ start of the season as well. However, once he is healed, look for the young goalie to make his case for a spot in the rotation.

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Philadelphia’s first potential backup for the start of the season seems to be Anthony Stolarz.  The 24-year-old has minimal NHL experience playing just seven games for the Flyers back in the 2016-17 season. The New Jersey native was out indefinitely last year after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus. In mid-July, Philadelphia signed the young goalie to a one-year deal to stay with the club. As a top-tier call-up for the Flyers, Stolarz may find himself backing up Brian Elliott when the team travels to Las Vegas to open the season.

Anthony Stolarz started the first half of the rookie game against the Washington Capitals [photo: Amy Irvin]

Gambling on Hart

Last but certainly not least stands the highly touted Carter Hart as a backup option. Hart has seen just a tad of NHL action playing parts of preseason games for Philadelphia. However, in his limited time in goal, the 20-year-old posted a 1.20 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage. According to NBC Sports Philadelphia, general manager Ron Hextall hasn’t ruled Hart out of making the final roster but would prefer development down in the AHL with the Phantoms. On the other hand, that may have to be put on hold if Hart is needed with the Flyers. Whatever happens, don’t count him out.

Carter Hart Philadelphia Flyers
(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Once again the Flyers face uncertainty in the realm of goaltending. With two of their regulars already sidelined, new faces may get the chance to shine early on. The veteran Elliott seems to be the lock at starter yet the backup remains vacant. If the top tandem can stay healthy and produce consistent, quality performances then Philadelphia will be in good shape. If not, then the team will have to fire up the carousel and make the rounds once again.