Flyers

Flyers

It was almost like a perfect summation of the Flyers' 2018-19 season in net.

All sorts of moving parts, no stability, same unsettling predicament.

The Flyers on Thursday night made three announcements regarding the goalie position.

Michal Neuvirth returned to Philadelphia to be with his wife Karolina for the expected birth of their child, while Brian Elliott also returned to Philadelphia for a scheduled medical appointment.

And in need of a second-string goalie for a back-to-back set over Friday and Saturday, the Flyers recalled Alex Lyon from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Some things to unpack:

• On Nov. 16, the Flyers were hoping Elliott (lower-body injury) would miss only approximately two weeks. It has now been just about a month and Elliott, the team's No. 1 goaltender, is still on injured reserve. Elliott has been skating and getting in work but his return date remains to be determined.

Elliott is 33 years old and underwent core muscle surgery in February. He is in the final year of a two-year contract and is recovering from what appears to be a groin injury. The Flyers desperately need him — not only to come back, but to also stay healthy somehow, which he hasn't been able to do with the Flyers.

• Neuvirth, the Flyers' No. 2 goalie entering the preseason, has played 1½ games this season, allowing nine goals in two losses. The oft-injured netminder simply has not been able to stay healthy and is also in the final year of a two-year deal.

When Elliott is ready to return, it will be interesting to see what general manager Chuck Fletcher decides to do, given 24-year-old Anthony Stolarz has played well and proven more reliable. Remarkably, he's the team's starting goalie right now after opening the year fifth on the organizational depth chart.

 

"I'm very happy with what [Stolarz] has given us," Fletcher said Wednesday (see story). "We've got a couple of guys that have been hurt that we're hoping can get healthy and get their game going."

• The 26-year-old Lyon is back following a disastrous season debut Nov. 21 when he allowed four goals on 12 shots before being pulled after one period.

Fletcher is working with what he has right now. After all, he was introduced as general manager just last week. That's not to say changes aren't coming. The new GM is reportedly hoping to upgrade at goalie, add a veteran defenseman and a top-nine forward (see story). So, yeah, Fletcher is obviously looking to address the flaws of an underachieving team falling well short of expectations.

Could this weekend be a tipping point in the call for action? 

It has the makings for it. 

The situation in net looks terrifying when you consider the circumstances. Stolarz and Lyon own 26 combined games of NHL experience, while the Flyers are about to face the Oilers and Canucks, two teams playing well led by young studs in Connor McDavid and Elias Pettersson, respectively. Those two guys can strike fear into any goalie, let alone a pair of netminders lacking experience.

Fletcher was looking forward to this five-game road trip as it marked his first real chance to evaluate what's in place. The second and third games probably made him pick up the phone some more.

Those last two defeats are ones that scream for change. If the Flyers follow them up with a few more head-scratchers, Fletcher will be a lot closer to pulling out his cleaning supplies for a mess that isn't fixing itself.

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