Panthers Alex Lyon Has Been Reliable in Necessary Backup Role

The Florida Panthers are on an upswing. In their last 10 games, they are 7-2-1 and trail the Pittsburgh Penguins by three points for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, although the Penguins have two games in hand.

Alex Lyon Carolina Hurricanes
Alex Lyon’s last NHL stint was with the Carolina Hurricanes for only two games last season. (Gregg Forwerck/Carolina Hurricanes)

Earlier this season, goaltender Spencer Knight was placed on injured reserve. However, he played two games for the Charlotte Checkers on a conditioning stint on Jan. 21 and Jan. 22. He is very close to returning, but the woes continue for the Cats between the pipes. On Thursday, Sergei Bobrovsky exited early in the first period against the Montreal Canadiens with a lower-body injury. He is expected to miss three games at least.

Related: 3 Takeaways from Canadiens’ 6-2 Loss to Florida Panthers 

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With that in mind, the Panthers called up 30-year-old Alex Lyon from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL, who until Thursday, hadn’t played an NHL regular-season game since Jan. 8, 2022, with the Carolina Hurricanes, interestingly, against the Panthers. Still, he has stood his ground and played well enough to earn some valuable wins for the team.

The Heart of a “Lyon”

Against the Habs, Lyon saved 25 of 27 shots and finished with a .920 save percentage (SV%). In his first start with the Panthers against the Minnesota Wild, he stopped 32 of 35 shots with an SV% of .908. Those two performances brought him to a .912 SV% and a goals-against average (GAA) of 2.55. His performance has boosted the teams morale as a result.

“A battler. His personality is what you see on the net. He’s scrambling. He’s fighting for pucks. Every time he makes a save, the bench goes crazy. It seems to be right now very possibly the energy we need is a guy like that playing the way he’s playing. We’re looking for anywhere we can get some juice, some fuel in the tank. He seems to be driving that. Every time he makes a save, the bench goes nuts, and we get fired up.”

Paul Maurice on the play of goaltender Alex Lyon against the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 21.

His performance means management has a good problem on their hands when Knight and Bobrovsky return from injury.

His Teammates are Invigorated by his Performance

Lyon gave his team a chance to win over his last two starts due to the face that he was playing out of his mind.

“Lyon King comes in there and steals the show for a little bit to deny them on a few grade-A chances. That gave us some time to get the ball rolling. A great team win.”

Ryan Lomberg on goaltender Alex Lyon coming in relief against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 19

Even if he was nervous, despite looking calm and collected, in his first game in over a year, Lyon gave his team a much-needed two points.

“Your legs are a little shaky, and you’re just trying to focus on the things that make you yourself. Getting a couple big saves early can give you a lot of confidence. I just tried to build off that.”

Lyon on coming in in relief on Jan. 19 and getting his first win since Nov. 13. He has appeared in 25 games over parts of six seasons in the NHL.

What’s Next for Lyon?

Lyon is expected to get the nod for Monday’s (Jan. 23) matchup against the high-powered New York Rangers as Knight continues his conditioning stint with the Checkers and Bobrovsky moves along in his healing process. The team has full confidence in Lyon and can use him as long as they need to as they need to make sure their two goaltenders are fully healthy. If he’s still riding a hot streak, the team could keep him post All-Star break.

Related: Boston Bruins & Florida Panthers Could Be Perfect Match for Trade

Right now, the team is in great hands with their diamond-in-the-rough goaltender. After failing to sign a stable third-string goaltender after the Andrew Hammond tryout during the offseason, this is a pleasant surprise for the front office. Lyon is making the best of his call-up, and he’s beginning to turn heads.

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