The Florida Panthers are currently fighting it out in the first round of the playoffs against the Boston Bruins. They are currently down 2-1 in the series after a gut-wrenching loss at home on April 21 by a score of 4-2. As a result, it left a lot of questions about who’s going to be in the lineup on Sunday, especially in goal.
Regardless of how it ends, there will be a decision to be made between the pipes for the future. Although Spencer Knight is still recovering from his personal matter and Sergei Bobrovsky is still the starter, Alex Lyon earned himself a shot at making the roster due to his performance at the end of the season and in the playoffs. In six of the last eight regular season games he played in, he won six of them and had a save percentage (SV%) over .917 in seven of those eight. On April 19, he secured his first-ever NHL playoff victory in Game 2 with a .919 SV%. Despite him being pulled in Game 3, it would be a crime to not have him at least attend training camp in September.
The Heart of a “Lyon” on His Sleeve
Lyon came into the fray near the end of March from the Charlotte Checkers after Bobrovsky went down with an illness. Since then, he’s been having the time of his life. He was the starting goaltender for a seven-game point streak that ultimately snuck the Panthers into the postseason.
And now, he’s claimed his first NHL playoff win on April 19 with a 6-3 victory over the boys from Beantown. He looks to continue that hot streak in hopes of a deep playoff run.
Is It Possible With a Crowded Goaltending Room?
Across the league, the demand for third-string goaltenders has gone up significantly over the past couple of seasons with the phenomenon of the emergency backup goaltender (EBUG) popping up. Along with emergency backups, there have been more instances of American Hockey League call-ups getting their chance to steal the cage. For example, Laurent Brossoit was recalled by the Vegas Golden Knights from Henderson due to injuries plaguing the team in net. He is now their starter in the postseason.
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Florida is no exception to the rule. Bobrovsky has been known to play inconsistently throughout his time as a Panther and had to miss time this season due to injury and sickness. In addition to that, the timetable for Knight’s return is still unknown. Even though the room is considered crowded, Lyon has at least earned himself a chance to get a job in the NHL next season.
Panthers Have 100% Confidence in Lyon’s Abilities
The team around him has put their faith in him 100% of the way. To them, Lyon gives the Cats a chance to win every single night he’s between the pipes.
The way he’s come in and handled himself has settled our whole team down…He’s given us a chance to win each and every night. He’s the unsung hero and the reason why we’re in the playoffs. You can go down the list of what he’s been able to do with us.Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk on Lyon’s first playoff win over the Bruins 6-3 on April 19
They see him as another brother in the band. If they have already formed a bond with him, there’s no reason to not give him another chance.
“I Just Can’t Wait to be King!”
The 30-year-old netminder has been the unsung hero for the past month and a half for the Panthers. The coaching staff and goaltending excellence staff should be proud of what they have on their hands.
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Now it is unknown what his career outlook could be. But given the situation the goaltending tandem is in, he should be given a chance to try and become at least a backup. If not, he may look for an opportunity with a team that needs a goaltender.
But for now, the Panthers should ride the wave he’s on. After all, their focus should be on the playoffs and what is at stake. If they lose their series against the Bruins, they could be cleaning out their lockers for yet another long summer of questions and second-guessing.