Alex Lyon

What Felix Sandstrom's contract means for Flyers' goalies

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Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

What Felix Sandstrom's contract means for Flyers' goalies

The Flyers signed Felix Sandstrom, their 2015 third-round pick, to his entry-level contract last Tuesday, and with Sandstrom inked, they now have four goalies under contract for 2018-19.

Add in the three goaltenders who are set to hit restricted free agency in late June, and Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has decisions to make in goal, at all levels, this summer.

Some are easier than others. Brian Elliott, who’s entering the final year of his contract, will be back. Carter Hart, in his first professional season, will be in Lehigh Valley.

Then there is Michal Neuvirth, who also will be in the final season of his deal. The Neuvirth decision will be the most interesting because it will be hard to bring him back next season.

Neuvirth’s health continues to be an issue. He just cannot be trusted no matter how talented he is. If Hextall wants tandems, Neuvirth isn’t a reliable partner. It might be time to move on.

Petr Mrazek joins Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz as RFAs. Since coming over from Detroit, Mrazek, 26, hasn’t done anything to secure a qualifying offer from the Flyers.

Mrazek has a 3.09 goals-against average and .893 save percentage as a Flyer. It doesn’t play into the long-term plan to qualify him at $4.15 million. It’s a safe bet he was just an emergency rental.

That brings us to Lyon and Stolarz, who both signed one-year contracts last summer, and their situations may correlate with what the Flyers do with Neuvirth.

If Neuvirth returns, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which both Lyon and Stolarz return. There won’t be enough crease for them.

But if the Flyers decide enough is enough with Neuvirth’s injuries, that opens up two spots — the NHL backup job and with the Phantoms. You have to think Lyon has more leverage than Stolarz since Stolarz missed most of this season with a significant knee injury.

Lyon has looked the part of an NHL goalie when called upon, and we can say the same about Stolarz in his limited time last year. You have to think they’ll want a shot at a backup job somewhere.

There are a lot of moving factors here. In short, Sandstrom’s contract means the Flyers retain his rights, and he’s very much in the long-term plans (see story).

Sandstrom is signed for one more season in the SHL, with HV71. In theory, the Flyers could have a Hart-Sandstrom tandem in the AHL next season, but that’s unrealistic. He's likely headed back to Sweden.

The numbers game, though, signals this summer will be fascinating when it comes to goalie decisions. While Sandstrom may not be a direct benefit, his contract makes things interesting.

As they say, it’s always goaltending in Philadelphia.

Quick Hits
• Another injury for Philippe Myers, who was hurt in practice last week and seen in the press box in a walking boot, according to Jamey Baskow. Samuel Morin is skating on his own.

• Morgan Frost had five assists and seven points as Sault Ste. Marie swept Saginaw in the OHL Playoffs.

• Matthew Strome had a monster first-round series for Hamilton with eight assists and 10 points.

• Isaac Ratcliffe had five goals and nine points in six playoff games.

• Hart had a 1.97 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage as Everett eliminated Seattle in five games. Hart pitched a shutout in Game 5 on Saturday night.

Flyers activate Michal Neuvirth from injured reserve

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USA Today Images

Flyers activate Michal Neuvirth from injured reserve

The Flyers on Wednesday activated goalie Michal Neuvirth from injured reserve and returned Alex Lyon to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Neuvirth is expected to start tonight in Colorado against the Avalanche with Petr Mrazek backing up.

Neuvirth, 30, suffered a lower-body injury Feb. 19 against the New York Rangers and has been on IR since Feb. 20.

In 21 games this season, Neuvirth is 8-7-3 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.

Lyon returns to the Phantoms after his second stint with the Flyers. He was 4-2-1 with a 2.75 GAA and .905 save percentage in 11 games and seven starts.

The 25-year-old had a 2.52 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in seven games after Neuvirth hit IR.

Another game vs. Penguins, another numbing loss for Flyers

Another game vs. Penguins, another numbing loss for Flyers

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH — Against 29 other teams in the NHL, the effort the Flyers exhibited Sunday in Pittsburgh would have been good enough for a win and two points.

Playing the Penguins, not so much.

Despite a season-high 45 shots on net and a last-minute surge that allowed the Flyers to tie the game and earn a much-needed point, beating the Penguins has required a near flawless effort that the Flyers haven’t put forth.

In what has been a reoccurring theme, the Flyers endured a relentless wave of pressure at random moments of the game and coupled it with self-inflicted mistakes that were too much to overcome as part of Sunday’s 5-4 overtime loss. The stolen point put the Flyers into a virtual deadlock with Columbus for third in the Metropolitan Division as each team has 89 points. The Penguins remain second in the Metro with 92 points.

The Flyers allowed five goals in each of the four games against the Penguins this season.

“You got to be disciplined against this team,” Sean Couturier said. “You don’t want to give them any opportunities to create momentum. We broke down in the little details and it cost us, but overall, I thought we played a pretty good game.”

• In the Nov. 27 game, Pittsburgh erased a 3-1 deficit with two goals in the first 1:46 of the third period and the game-tying goal with 1:04 remaining in regulation.

• The Penguins scored four quick second-period goals in a span of 3:51 Jan. 2 in Philadelphia.

• Three Pittsburgh goals were scored in a 9:56 span on March 7 at the Wells Fargo Center.

• Two Pittsburgh goals were scored in the first 2:37 of the second period as the Flyers committed back-to-back penalties that turned a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 deficit. 

That 'complete 60-minute effort' cliche has never been more applicable.

“We gave them the power play to begin the second period and sometimes those things come back to bite you, and that one did,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “That started a momentum push for them.” 

Another constant, regardless of the opponent, has been Hakstol’s reluctance to stick with his starting goaltender. This time, he replaced Alex Lyon with Petr Mrazek after the Flyers surrendered that third goal early in the second period.

It was the third time in the past six games Hakstol has gone to his bench to stop the bleeding. 

“Three goals on [11] shots. At that point, Alex hadn’t let up a bad goal,” Hakstol said. “Sometimes it’s tough to make that switch, but at the same time, it’s that time of year. I felt like we needed a bit of a momentum change, so we made the change in net."

After the Flyers scored in the final minute to force overtime, they were outmatched again.

Interestingly, in the two games played this season in Pittsburgh (both Penguins overtime victories), the Flyers have not manufactured a single shot on net in 4:13 of three-on-three OT time.

A familiar ending saw Sidney Crosby step up to win the game, as he assisted on Bryan Rust's winning deflection. Oh, Crosby also scored a spectacular goal early in the third that gave the Pens a 4-3 lead.

That redundant storyline has been resurfacing since 2005.