Flyers

End to End: How should Flyers tackle their goalie situation?

End to End: How should Flyers tackle their goalie situation?

The topic: How should the Flyers tackle their goaltending situation?

John Boruk
I’ve been contemplating the goaltending quandary for the better half of the past month and how it might sort itself out. As we’ve discussed, there are six NHL/AHL caliber goaltenders at a table that seats just four.

For starters, we could have some clarity during the draft if general manager Ron Hextall makes a trade (or two) that would give the Flyers a draft pick, a prospect or a player that can help the team next season.

I expect Hextall to work the phones to find an interested team for Petr Mrazek, or inevitably he becomes a free agent on July 1.

Brian Elliott returns as the Flyers' No. 1 when 100 percent healthy.

Carter Hart is the future franchise netminder and he needs to play and play a lot, which is why you can pencil him in as the starter for Lehigh Valley to begin next season.

That leaves injury-plagued Michal Neuvirth, Anthony Stolarz (also returning from major knee surgery) and Alex Lyon. I just don’t see the organization parting ways with Stolarz (a 2012 second-round pick) until it knows with certainty what it has once he’s healthy.

I would take all five goaltenders into training camp come September and let the situation play itself out. There’s plenty of injury risk on this team so why deplete the position especially when you consider how last season unfolded.

Tom Dougherty
Guess what. As another summer approaches, we're left talking Flyers goaltending. Fun!

I don't know how the Flyers can go into next season trusting Neuvirth. He has another year left on his contract, but there are ways around that. Neuvirth is a talented goalie who can never stay healthy. He's unreliable and that's a problem.

The Flyers have a goalie numbers problem. Lyon and Stolarz are restricted free agents and Hart is turning pro. Unless Hart shocks all, he'll be with the Phantoms full-time.

If the Flyers' plan is to bring back both Elliott and Neuvirth, that leaves one spot open in Lehigh Valley and that spot belongs to Lyon. He earned another contract with his play down the stretch, in the AHL playoffs and his time with the Flyers last season.

It's hard to imagine a scenario in which Stolarz returns to the club. It's a shame because he lost his spot on the depth chart because of injury, but that's hockey. If Neuvirth comes back, it's safe to say one of the AHL goalies will see NHL time next season.

There's too much of an unknown with Stolarz's health to choose him over Lyon. Theoretically, both could come back. The Flyers own both of their rights. But I could see Hextall trading Stolarz to let him get a fresh start elsewhere.

If I was in charge, I would find a way to move on from Neuvirth and allow Lyon and Stolarz duke it out for the NHL backup job. The loser heads to Lehigh Valley to mentor Hart.

Jordan Hall
It's never a bad time to talk goalies in Philadelphia, right?

Currently, there's a boatload to break down.

I don't see a major problem heading into the season with Elliott and Neuvirth as your tandem again. If both are healthy — I understand that's a big if — they can be reliable and have shown that to the Flyers with stretches of play. Both goalies are on the final year of their contract, so you enter 2018-19 with those two as your guys and if they can't stay injury free, then the good thing is the organization has options.

Right now, it just feels like Stolarz is the odd man out. You can probably bet Hextall is working the phones a tad on Neuvirth, Stolarz and obviously Mrazek. A trade is more than possible, but Hextall won't decimate his depth just because the Flyers have a lot of players at one position.

Ultimately, I don't foresee any big surprises. Looks like Elliott-Neuvirth in Philly and Lyon-Hart waiting in the wings at Lehigh Valley.

More on Flyers' goalies

• Following 'gloomy' time, what's next for Elliott?

• Why Neuvirth's NHL career hinges on this offseason

Are Flyers next? How Hart won over his junior GM

• After incredible effort, Lyon solidifies case for contract

Panthers 2, Flyers 1: Late push not enough as 6-game point streak ends

Panthers 2, Flyers 1: Late push not enough as 6-game point streak ends

BOX SCORE

The six-game point streak is over.

The Flyers tripped up at home Tuesday night for a 2-1 loss to the Panthers, giving them their first regulation defeat since that 6-1 nightmare against the Islanders on Oct. 27. 

Prior to this loss, which snapped a season-best three-game winning streak, the Flyers (9-8-1) had gone 5-0-1 after that forgettable clunker at the Wells Fargo Center. Since Oct. 30, they were tied for first in the NHL with a plus-11 goal differential.

Meanwhile, the Panthers (7-5-3) own the NHL's longest current win streak at five games.

• Facing just their second multi-goal deficit in the last seven games, the Flyers had the Panthers completely under siege in the third period. They came hard and you certainly can't fault their effort trying to rally.

The Flyers created their chances and outshot the Panthers 16-6 in the final stanza but couldn't find the equalizer to push things past regulation.

• Oskar Lindblom started the third-period onslaught with a pretty cross-ice feed to Jakub Voracek, who brought the Flyers within 2-1 just 3:55 into the frame.

Lindblom, only 22 and in his first full NHL season, has shown excellent passing ability alongside Voracek and Nolan Patrick. He has eight points in his last seven games and has turned into one of the Flyers' biggest positives thus far.

• Despite earning 11 of a possible 14 points in their last seven games, the Flyers haven't gotten their power play going — a real surprise as it looked like it would be a strength entering 2018-19. It went 0 for 1 Tuesday and is 3 for 39 since Oct. 13, worst in the NHL.

The Flyers have made up for it with 41 goals at 5-on-5, second most in the NHL.

• It's scary to think where this penalty kill would be without Scott Laughton. He has been brilliant this season, especially when the Flyers are shorthanded. He's aggressive and attacks the puck carrier, making the opposition uncomfortable.

If the Flyers had more of his effort when down a man, their penalty kill wouldn't be ranked 30th in the league.

• Brian Elliott, who entered with a 1.68 goals-against average and .938 save percentage over his previous seven games, allowed his first goal since Nov. 1 against the Kings. Overall, he made a number of big saves and stopped 28 of 30 shots, including this one.

The second goal allowed could have been stopped as it was a clear shot from straightaway off the stick of Evgenii Dadonov in the second period. He'll want that one back and it proved to be a major difference.

• Ivan Provorov didn't have his best game. He had a pair of tripping penalties — one was in desperation to prevent a breakaway — and some of his passes didn't have that usual crispness you see when the 21-year-old moves the puck.

Provorov had been a plus-7 over the Flyers' past six games and seemed to be turning a corner. He rarely makes the same mistake twice, so consider this a rare hiccup.

• Following a stretch of eight points in his last three games, Claude Giroux went scoreless and still sits at 699 career points.

• The Flyers practice Wednesday in Voorhees, New Jersey, before hosting the Devils Thursday at 7 p.m. on NBCSP for Game 4 of their five-game homestand.

The Devils entered Tuesday having lost nine of their last 11 games.

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Flyers vs. Panthers: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Panthers: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Two of the hotter teams in the NHL square off Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center as the Flyers (9-7-1) host the Panthers (6-5-3).

Let's look at the essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers are playing their best hockey of the season right as James van Riemsdyk nears his return (see story). Record-wise, the Flyers are actually off to a better start than last season, when they were 8-7-2 through 17 games. That was also before the Flyers dropped 10 straight games and still recovered to make the playoffs.

These Flyers are 5-0-1 since Oct. 30, a stretch in which they're tied for second in points (11) and knotted in first for best goal differential (plus-11) in the NHL.

The Flyers are also on a season-best three-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 14-6 in that span. The last time they've won four consecutive games was Feb. 16-26, when they reeled off six straight last season.

• The Panthers come in on their own high. Florida is riding the NHL's longest current win streak at four games after losing eight of its first 10 games. However, six of those eight defeats were by one goal. During their four-game run, the Panthers have outscored the opposition 17-6.

Goalie Roberto Luongo has been exceptional in four games this season, going 3-0-0 with a 1.42 goals-against average and 100 saves on 105 shots. The 39-year-old is 10-11-3 with a 2.76 GAA and .921 save percentage in 26 career games against the Flyers.

• During the 5-0-1 push, has there been anyone more important to the Flyers than Sean Couturier? 

In the Flyers' 4-7-0 start, Couturier had three goals and was without an assist or a multi-point game. Over the past six games, the first-line center has put up eight points (four goals, four assists) and a plus-6 rating.

It's no coincidence that his success has coincided with the Flyers' turnaround. Last season, Couturier was a plus-48 in wins compared to a minus-14 in losses.

• Probably the second-most important player: Claude Giroux.

The Flyers' captain has four goals and seven assists in the last six games and is one point away from 700 on his career. Since Feb. 8 of last season, only one player has more points than Giroux's 66: Connor McDavid at 68.

• Brian Elliott is finding a groove in net, going 5-2-0 with a 1.68 goals-against average and .938 save percentage over his last seven games.

Projected lineup

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny 
Oskar Lindblom-Nolan Patrick-Jakub Voracek
Dale Weise-Jordan Weal-Wayne Simmonds
Scott Laughton-Jori Lehtera-Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Shayne Gostisbehere-Christian Folin
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Calvin Pickard

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