Philadelphia Flyers

Why Flyers should ride Alex Lyon, not Petr Mrazek

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Why Flyers should ride Alex Lyon, not Petr Mrazek

When the Flyers acquired Petr Mrazek from Detroit out of necessity in February, Ron Hextall explained the trade as a reward for his players’ hard work.

“We’re in a tough situation — you lose your top two goalies when you’re fighting for a playoff spot,” Hextall said then, “and our players have worked hard for a long time now. I didn’t feel like it was fair to not have a proven NHL goaltender for this team.”

One month later, Mrazek has been erratic, and the Flyers’ grip on a playoff spot is loosening. With eight games remaining, Dave Hakstol owes it to his players to ride the steadier goalie, and that's not the proven NHL goaltender.

For the second time in six days, Hakstol was forced to pull Mrazek on Tuesday night, and for the second time in six days, Alex Lyon battled in relief, giving the Flyers a chance in a game they otherwise had no business being in.

Lyon stopped 11 of 12 shots Tuesday, holding off a determined Red Wings team and allowing the Flyers to fight back from a 3-1 deficit and force overtime. They lost, 5-4, in a shootout, but the point was huge.

We’re tired of hearing that too. But at this stage, and with how the Flyers have played in March, any point is needed. The goal is the playoffs, and right now, the Flyers cannot trust Mrazek.

What we’ve seen from Mrazek in his short time here explains why the Red Wings soured on him.

Mrazek showed glimpses of his potential in his first three starts as a Flyer, but since, he’s been inconsistent and unreliable.

In his last nine games, Mrazek’s 2-5-1 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .865 save percentage. He's allowed fewer than three goals just once. There have been far too many bad goals along the way too.

Last Thursday, Mrazek was pulled after yielding his fourth goal against the Blue Jackets, a team the Flyers are jockeying with for playoff position in the Metropolitan Division.

That relief appearance earned Lyon the start Saturday in Carolina, where he was again steady. Hakstol went back to Mrazek on Sunday and then again Tuesday.

Now, it’s time to ride Lyon until the rookie shows wear on his tires and until either Brian Elliott or Michal Neuvirth is healthy enough to return, which likely will not be until closer to the final week of the season.

Lyon has not looked out of place since his second call-up of the season Feb. 11. In six games — three starts — he has a .933 save percentage.

The 25-year-old passes both the numbers and eye test, and it’s time to show faith in him.

After Tuesday’s loss, the Flyers dropped to the top wild-card spot, with Columbus leapfrogging them to third in the Metro. Both teams have eight games left. The Flyers are four points ahead of the Devils, who have one game in hand.

Then, there are the Panthers, five points behind the Flyers with three games in hand. Per Hockey-Reference, the Flyers have an 88.8 percent chance at the postseason.

We’ve seen crazier collapses happen, though. When March began, the Flyers were one point behind the first-place Capitals. They’ve picked up just eight of a possible 22 points this month.

At this point, it’s about surviving, and Lyon gives the Flyers a better shot to stay above the line than Mrazek.

Flyers stunned by their effort in bad loss at bad time

Flyers stunned by their effort in bad loss at bad time


DETROIT — The Flyers brought a cold engine to the Motor City and it took a good 40 minutes to finally get it started.

Sure, Dave Hakstol’s team rallied back from a two-goal deficit Tuesday to earn a point at a time when every point is critical, but losing a 5-4 shootout to a fragile Detroit team is unacceptable and unexplainable (see observations).

“Maybe we thought it was going to be an easy game,” Sean Couturier said. “We didn’t play the right way. We didn’t play hard. We wasted 40 minutes. We came back and got a big point, but we can’t be wasting time at this time of the year.”

On a night when the Flyers could have officially eliminated the Red Wings from postseason contention, they turned back the clock and made this Detroit team look more like the juggernaut that won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships 20 years ago. 

At least through the first two periods.

“The second period was god-awful,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “We really didn’t help our cause out. We weren’t pushing plays and we just weren’t battling out there. You saw in the third what we could do when we light a fire under our ass. It’s tough like that when you dig yourself a hole and you come back, you expend a lot of energy. The positive we can take is that we got a point out of it.”

You may have never known this was the same Red Wings team that, like the Flyers in the first half of the season, had dropped 10 straight with an 0-9-1 record. Detroit had been outscored a whopping 41-19 from Feb. 28-March 18.

The Red Wings had also returned from a four-game Western Conference road trip less than 48 hours prior to the opening faceoff.

With eight games remaining on the Flyers' schedule, Hakstol is also mired in a goaltending dilemma. Petr Mrazek was rescued from Detroit to be the savior in Philadelphia following injuries to Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth. 

After winning his first three starts, Mrazek’s numbers reek of mediocrity: a 2-5-1 record, 3.72 GAA and an .860 save percentage. Most recently, he’s been pulled in favor of Alex Lyon in two of his last three games.

“The second one is a bad-angle goal,” Hakstol said. “Obviously, he wants that one back, but we gave up a number of opportunities that he was very strong on.”

Mrazek was pulled from the game at 3-1, and before heading to the locker room, he expressed his disappointment with the coaching staff over a non-goaltender interference call during the Red Wings' third goal.

“I talked to Coach and I was just wondering about the goalie interference because someone had bumped in there during the shot,” Mrazek said. “It wasn’t anything like I was mad or something that I got pulled. I was just asking him if there was a goalie interference or not.”

The Flyers' shootout loss coupled with the Blue Jackets' ninth straight victory now drops the orange and black into wild-card territory (see standings).

If this is indeed a playoff team, it needs to repair what’s under the hood and fix it fast.

Flyers drop back into top wild-card spot with SO loss

Flyers drop back into top wild-card spot with SO loss


DETROIT — It took awhile for the Flyers to get their motors running in the Motor City. Once they did, they rallied from a two-goal third-period deficit to earn a point before losing to the Red Wings, 5-4, in a shootout.

Shootout specialist Frans Nielsen scored the only goal during the skill competition.

The loss dropped the Flyers into the top wild-card spot in the playoff race (see standings).

On the other end, the win snapped Detroit’s 10-game losing streak with its first win since Feb. 25.

• In his first return to Detroit since being traded to the Flyers, Petr Mrazek was pulled after allowing three goals on 19 shots in the opening 30 minutes.

• Alex Lyon stopped 11 of 12 shots in relief, including two buzzer-beaters and the final save that forced a shootout.

• Matt Read scored his first goal of the season, Sean Couturier reached the 30-goal mark for the first time and Travis Konecny continued his brilliant second half with his 20th goal of the season. And with three assists, Claude Giroux became the Flyers' fifth all-time leading scorer at 662 points.

• The Red Wings were able to strike first as they caught four Flyers in deep and unable to retreat in transition. Dylan Larkin slowed down Konecny and snapped a shot far post on Mrazek to give Detroit a 1-0 lead. 

• On the Flyers’ second power play, catastrophe struck again as they surrendered their 10th shorthanded goal of the season and a 2-0 Red Wings’ lead. Luke Glendening fired a shot top shelf, near side post over Mrazek’s glove hand. Mrazek appeared somewhat surprised as he usually comes out a little farther in his crease to cut down the angle. 

• The Flyers were in a complete defensive disarray on Detroit’s third goal, and I would love to know what Wayne Simmonds was doing during this sequence. He reached unsuccessfully for the puck, peeled off and then didn’t help out on the coverage down low. With the Flyers in complete scramble mode, it set up perfectly for Evgeny Svechnikov, who banged home an easy rebound.

• Mrazek was pulled after allowing three goals in the first 10 minutes of the second period and replaced by Lyon. You have to wonder where Dave Hakstol’s trust in Mrazek is after his night was cut short for the second time in three games. However, the Flyers let down Mrazek defensively and the goalie appeared to have said something to the coaching staff as he raced off to the dressing room.

• The Flyers finally woke up in the third period as Hakstol performed the four-line shuffle they needed to get that first one to wake up the sleeping bear. Surprisingly, it came from Read, who scored his first of the season. Scott Laughton’s shot deflected off of Read and angled upward past Jimmy Howard as the Flyers cut the deficit to 3-2.

• The Red Wings’ penalty kill sat back and let the Flyers’ power play drive to the net. Giroux did a solid job of settling the puck down and moving it over to Jakub Voracek. Voracek’s cross-ice pass allowed Shayne Gostisbehere to snipe the puck from close range. Howard had no chance as the Flyers tied it at 3-3.

• Just 28 seconds after Larkin made it 4-3 for the Red Wings, the Flyers struck back as a hard-charging Konecny got his body in the way of Couturier’s shot. Credit the Flyers, who weren’t ready for the start of this game, but had a never-say-die mentality in the final 10 minutes of regulation. 

• Interesting to see how the Red Wings attacked Mrazek with knowledge of his tendencies. Early on in the first period, Detroit elected to test Mrazek on wide-angle shots whether to generate a rebound or catch him leaving the near-side post unprotected.