Michal Neuvirth

Grading the Flyers' goaltenders at the bye week

Grading the Flyers' goaltenders at the bye week

Throughout the bye week, we’ll break down the Flyers by position in assessing our midseason grades.

It’s been a season of goaltending unlike any other with a record number seven different netminders saw action in the first 43 games of the regular season. 

From a 33-year-old veteran to a 20-year-old rookie and everything in between, here are the seven goalies who have appeared in net for the Flyers through the midway point. 

Carter Hart

Grade: A-
Stats: 6-5-1, 2.66 GAA, .918 save percentage, 12 games

Hart is incredibly mature for a 20-year-old rookie who is quickly becoming the story of the season. His four victories lead all NHL goaltenders over the past 10 days coupled with a .932 save percentage over his last seven starts.

With Hart in net, the Flyers' penalty kill has operated at an 88 percent rate of success, not allowing more than one power-play goal in any of his 12 starts. If Hart continues to build upon his impressive NHL start, he might work his way in as a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie.

Brian Elliott

Grade: B
Stats: 6-7-0, 2.59 GAA, .911 save percentage, 14 games

Provided a sense of stability to the position earlier in the season. The Flyers were 9-9-1 at the time of his injury and 10-14-5 since. Had Elliott stayed healthy, the Flyers very well could be knocking on the playoff door.

Take away the home opener against the Sharks, when the Flyers were a defensive mess, and Elliott has an impressive 2.14 GAA with a .951 save percentage in his other 13 appearances.

Anthony Stolarz

Grade: C-
Stats: 2-3-2, 3.90 GAA, .880 save percentage, 9 games

One of the few goaltenders whose numbers are not indicative of how well he’s played. Has shown a tremendous amount of mental fortitude working his way back from injury. Started with a solid relief appearance in Toronto, where he stopped 33 of 35 shots followed with impressive road victories at Buffalo and Pittsburgh.

Was counted on in early December to manage the bulk of the workload with six appearances in a 10-day stretch. If Stolarz can build up his game with the Phantoms over the remainder of this season, then he should be a viable option as a backup to Hart next season. 

Cal Pickard

Grade: D-
Stats: 4-2-2, 4.01 GAA, .863 save percentage, 11 games

A fringe NHL backup, Pickard was snatched off waivers from the Maple Leafs just prior to the season opener. With a 4-2-2 record in eight starts, Pickard has the highest points percentage (.750) of the seven different goalies who have appeared in a game this season.

Pickard’s best start came in a 31-save shutout Nov. 23 against the Rangers, to only follow that up with a disastrous game at Toronto, where he allowed four goals in 12 minutes. Too erratic in net and only steady enough for the occasional spot start.

Michal Neuvirth

Grade: F
Stats: 1-4-1, 4.27 GAA, .859 save percentage, 7 games

Has been an absolutely disastrous season for the 30-year-old free agent who may be playing his final season in the NHL. Can no longer be counted on to stay healthy or be a reliable backup moving forward.

How bad has it been for Neuvirth? Among NHL goalies with at least six starts this season, Neuvirth is 70th out of 71 goalies with an .859 save percentage, and among that group, his one win ties him with Mike McKenna for league low. Neuvirth’s one redeeming stat line — a perfect 4 for 4 in the shootout.

Mike McKenna

Grade: Incomplete
Stats: 0-1-1, 4.22 GAA, .833 save percentage, 1 game

Hard to judge based on one game in net. McKenna allowed four goals in his only start in Washington on Jan. 8. Should be interesting to see how long McKenna remains in Philadelphia with Neuvirth expected to return in the weeks following the All-Star break. 

Should see one of the two back-to-back games coming out of the break, either at home against Winnipeg or in New York. Like Pickard, a borderline NHL goalie who has hung around. McKenna’s only win this season came with the Senators against his current Flyers on Nov. 27.

Alex Lyon

Grade: Incomplete
Stats: 0-1-1, 5.08 GAA, .806 save percentage, 2 games

After filling in admirably during the 2017-18 season, Lyon appeared out of place during his one start in Buffalo, where he was pulled after four first-period goals. Didn’t look much better in his next appearance, replacing an injured Stolarz in Vancouver a month later.

Barring another onslaught of injuries, it’s doubtful that Lyon will see action with the Flyers again this season.

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Flyers claim goalie Mike McKenna off waivers from Canucks

Flyers claim goalie Mike McKenna off waivers from Canucks

VOORHEES, N.J. — Lucky No. 7 could be in the net soon for the Flyers.

Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher on Friday afternoon claimed goaltender Mike McKenna off waivers from the Canucks.

If, and when, McKenna plays, he would be the record-setting goaltender for the most used by an NHL team in one season. That factoid left McKenna recalling his days with the now defunct Las Vegas Wranglers.

“If you last long enough in the minors, you’ll see things you can only imagine,” McKenna said. “Years ago, when I was in the ECHL, we picked up a couple of guys at a rest stop.”

That may be Fletcher’s next option if something unfortunate happens to Carter Hart or McKenna, who ironically won his only game this season in Philadelphia — part of a 4-3 comeback on Nov. 27.

In 10 appearances with the Senators, McKenna finished with a 1-4-1 record, 3.96 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage.

The timing was ideal for Fletcher. Claiming McKenna was a move made necessary following a lower-body injury to Michal Neuvirth, now day to day and unavailable for Saturday’s game against the Flames.

“Mike provides our organization added depth as we continue to battle injuries at the goaltending position,” Fletcher said in a statement. “He is a veteran goaltender with a tremendous amount of professional experience.”

That experience has been mostly accumulated in the minors, having been a part of eight different NHL organizations, which also includes stops with 11 different AHL teams. His longest NHL stint came 10 years ago when he made 14 starts with the Lightning.

The 35-year-old signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Senators this past summer but was traded to Vancouver just two days ago as part of a four-player swap that allowed the Canucks to shed salary. The Flyers' new goaltender never made it to Vancouver as he accompanied the team to Montreal and then Toronto, where he departed to join the Flyers.

“I’ve always been able to perform. It’s just been a matter of not being somebody’s prospect. That’s what I’ve battled my whole career,” McKenna said. “I didn’t start out with an entry-level contract, so the cards were stacked against me from the beginning, and for whatever reason, I’ve managed to persevere and keep my career going.”

How long it rolls on in Philadelphia remains to be seen.

The Flyers are hoping to get Anthony Stolarz back on the ice this weekend from a lower-body injury that has kept him out since Dec. 15, while Brian Elliott is optimistic he can start practicing with the team in the next 10 to 14 days.

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Hurricanes 5, Flyers 3: Lethargic effort results in a new low

Hurricanes 5, Flyers 3: Lethargic effort results in a new low


Despite a furious third-period rally, the Flyers couldn't survive the Hurricanes again this week.

Three days after a 3-1 loss in Carolina, the Flyers fell again Thursday night to the Hurricanes, this time, 5-3, at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers scored three times in the third period but dug too deep of a hole.

Did Scott Gordon’s decision to shake up the top line cost the Flyers early?

• After showing a different line during the morning skate and in warmups, Gordon gave us Oskar Lindblom on the top line and moved Travis Konecny to the fourth line. When the Flyers have scored two goals in three games and in the case of Konecny, no goals in his past 12 games, anything and everything should be on the table.

Lindblom, obviously, had a boost and jump to his game and that top line generated three of the Flyers' first eight shots on net.

• However, Lindblom’s inexperience and poor defensive judgment cost the Flyers the first goal of the game. Lindblom floated out near the middle of the ice and failed to pick up Dougie Hamilton. The 'Canes defenseman, skating in from his right defense position, snapped a shot high over Michal Neuvirth's glove. We've seen plays like that from Konecny early in his career, but these are the types of lapses that have been common throughout the season.

• Konecny rejoined the top line to begin the third period with the Flyers trailing 3-0 and Gordon looking for that offensive jolt. The Flyers entered the third period with just one goal in their last 10 periods of play.

• Carolina erupted for three second-period goals and 10 goals in the second period over its last five games. The Hurricanes' second and third goals came on one-timers on the power play.

The first one off the stick of Justin Williams was clearly avoidable. The Flyers' PK failed to pick up Williams, who found the soft spot in the defense. It was also a goal that Neuvirth should have stopped. The Flyers' PK had been eighth best since Thanksgiving, but on this night, it made it too easy for Carolina’s skilled players.

With eight games over the next 15 days, the Flyers will have little-to-almost no practice time for Gordon to iron out the issues and problem areas within their PK or their coverage breakdowns.

• Sean Couturier brought the Wells Fargo Center back to life by redirecting Claude Giroux’s backhand pass up high perfectly over Petr Mrazek’s glove hand in the third period. Hard to believe but Couturier is on pace to match his career-high 31 goals from last season.

• Down 4-3, the Flyers were pressing hard for the game-tying goal with a couple of scoring chances, but Jakub Voracek’s failure to hit the net saw the puck rim around the boards and propelled Carolina to a 3-on-1 break and a backbreaker for Neuvirth, who couldn't secure Teuvo Teravainen’s wrist shot that trickled through his five-hole and ended any shot of a comeback.

• A couple of things I didn’t like about Travis Sanheim’s game early on. He couldn’t outskate 37-year-old Williams from behind his own net as Williams was able to lift his stick from behind and force a turnover. Earlier in the period, with Ivan Provorov pinching, Sanheim also failed to pick up Andrei Svechnikov, who corralled a lob pass and broke in cleanly on Neuvirth. Sanheim has tailed off recently as he wasn’t that good in the previous two games against the Predators and the Hurricanes.

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