The Philadelphia Flyers will have one final game to determine if Alex Lyon or Brian Elliott will become the primary backup to Carter Hart next season.
Of course, the Flyers also could go in a completely different direction regarding their backup goaltender.
But the 28-year-old Lyon certainly gave the Flyers a strong performance in Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss on the road against the Washington Capitals with a 38-save performance.
The Flyers (24-23-8, 56 points) will wrap up their 56-game regular season Monday night when they host the New Jersey Devils.
“Given how the season’s gone, not being able to play, it’s nice to string together a few performances that I feel good about,” said Lyon, who has started 15 career games. “I don’t feel like I’m doing anything crazy. I just feel like I’m playing my game. It just gives me confidence to do the things I’m doing.”
Lyon, who has never posted a shutout, nearly willed the Flyers to a victory before Conor Sheary came through with the game-winner in overtime.
“It’s super frustrating,” said Lyon, who has appeared in six games this season. “As good as you play, you still give up a goal in the last 40 seconds, and then you give up one in overtime and lose the game.”
Any offense the Flyers can muster will help give confidence to the goaltenders. Joel Farabee, 21, leads the Flyers with 18 goals. Before the season started, Farabee probably was a longshot to finish with this many goals.
“What Joel has is good hockey sense,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “Hockey sense is an attribute that you have to have as a player in today’s game and his hockey IQ is very good.”
The Devils (19-29-7, 45 points) will close their disappointing season looking for their 20th victory.
In their most recent game, they fell 5-1 to the New York Islanders on Saturday.
The Devils have been winning more often with five wins in their past seven games.
“We mismanaged the puck a lot of times, I think almost on every goal,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “The puck was on our stick; we made a bad decision. We put the puck in the wrong place, fueled some of their transition. I thought it was more about puck play than anything.”
All Ruff can ask for in the final game is effort. Even if the execution is shaky, it’s the last game before retooling for the 2021-22 season.
“I’m hoping we have more energy than we did tonight,” Ruff said. “I’m hoping the energy in some of our players is back up again, because when we have good energy, we usually play well.”
Andreas Johnsson, who scored the Devils’ only goal, had missed the previous six games with a lower-body injury.
“I just thought he was skating well, was doing a nice job,” Ruff said. “You could see his energy level was a lot greater than some of the other players on our team.”
“I felt OK conditioning-wise,” Johnsson added. “It’s nice to score a goal, but it was an OK game.”
–Field Level Media