Goalie Alex Lyon has been a good soldier for the Flyers, playing in parts of four seasons for the team.
He will be rewarded with a rare start Friday when the Flyers play the New York Rangers, the second game on back-to-back nights at Madison Square Garden.
Coach Alain Vigneault could have given Felix Sandstrom his first NHL start, but he said he was going with Lyon, who will be aiming for his first NHL win since Feb. 1, 2020, a 6-3 victory over visiting Colorado. Joel Farabee and Kevin Hayes (power play, shorthanded) scored two goals apiece in that game, and Lyon made 28 saves as he outplayed Philipp Gruebauer.
Lyon, 28, a Yale University product, will be trying to register his first road win in a little over three years, a 4-2 triumph at Carolina on March 17, 2018. Val Filppula was one of the Flyers’ scorers. Yeah, it’s been a while.
This will be Lyon’s second start of the season and 12th of his career.
He has gotten into two games this season (0-1, 4.40 GAA, .880 save percentage), and 18 in his career (5-5-1, 3.28, .891).
Alexandar Georgiev (7-5-2), who has a 2.79 GAA and .902 save percentage, is expected to be in the nets for the Rangers. He has been nearly flawless against the Flyers, going 2-0 with a 0.96 GAA and .958 save percentage.
Brian Elliott was excellent in the Flyers’ 3-2 win Thursday over the Rangers, especially in a New York-dominated first period.
“Moose permitted us to find our execution,” Vigneault said.
The Flyers are shooting for their first two-game winning streak in nearly a month.
The sixth-place Flyers (21-18-7) are three points behind the fifth-place Rangers (23-18-6), who have more hope for the future than the Flyers as they have played extremely well over the last two months. They have three marquee players — Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and Adam Fox — and blossoming guys such as Ryan Strome, Pavel Buchnevich, Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko, and goalie Igor Shesterkin, among others.
They also have the NHL’s second-youngest team. On Thursday, the Blueshirts dressed five defensemen 23 or younger, including Zac Jones, 20, who made his NHL debut.
The Flyers, of course, have faded dramatically since the start of March, and the team needs a major shakeup.
Center Jackson Cates is expected to make his NHL debut for the Flyers tonight. Vigneault will address the media at 4:30 p.m. ... Sandstrom, 24, a Sweden native who was drafted in the third round in 2015, struggled in five games this season with the Phantoms, compiling a 2-2-1 record with a 4.76 and .838 save percentage. ... This will be the last game of the strange season series between the teams; the Flyers are 4-2-1, including 9-0 and 8-3 losses. ... The Rangers’ loss Thursday dropped them to 4-15 in one-goal games. ... Ivan Provorov had two assists and five shots in Thursday’s win.