Alex Lyon has been beyond dominating in the AHL’s Calder Cup playoffs.
Simply put, the 25-year-old goaltender has been scary-good for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Flyers’ top minor-league affiliate.
“He’s locked in,” Phantoms coach Scott Gordon said.
Lyon was 4-0 with a 0.73 goals-against average and .979 save percentage as the Phantoms eliminated Charlotte in five games and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals. That series against Toronto will start Saturday.
In the first two rounds of the playoffs, Lyon has a 6-1 record with a 1.49 GAA and league-best .959 save percentage. He stopped 94 of 95 shots in the Phantoms’ five-overtime win over Charlotte in Game 4.
Has Lyon’s off-the-charts performance catapulted him into the Flyers’ goalie plans for next season?
“We’ve had a belief in Alex since we signed him,” Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said Monday. “We liked him at Yale. We went after him hard and had meetings with him and convinced him to come here. We didn’t go after him hard because we thought he’d be a good American Hockey League goalie. We went after him hard because we thought he had a chance to play in the NHL. That hasn’t changed for us.”
Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth are each signed for one more season. But Lyon could beat out Neuvirth – assuming he isn’t traded – for one of the goaltender spots in training camp.
“Alex has a lot of qualities in players that we covet,” Hextall said. “He works hard, he’s very focused, and he tries to get better every day. He’s got mental toughness and he reacts well to adversity. … After a bad game or a bad goal, he seems to be able to gather himself.”
Lyon, 25, has excelled since being sent back to the Phantoms after a stint with the Flyers. Since then, he is 7-1 with a 1.43 GAA, and a .959 save percentage.
“I think every experience you go through as a young player helps you down the road,” Hextall said about Lyon’s 11 games with the Flyers this season. “He came up here and faced NHL shooters every day in practice. You watch guys and you learn little things, so I think being around NHL players is huge. Alex is also a very mature individual, and he’s the type of kid who would watch Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth and learn from them. You watch their preparation and take what you like. And he’s a sponge with our goalie coaches.”
Hextall said the longest game he ever played in was probably a double-overtime affair. The five-overtime game that Lyon and his teammates won “was an incredible amount of time,” the general manger said. “It’s hard to even imagine playing eight periods of hockey. I think it’s terrific for not only Alex but all our players [on the Phantoms]. It reinforces that we’re capable of a lot more than we believe we are. To think going into a game that you’re going to play eight periods and be able to get through it, guys would be going, ‘No, no, no.’ But it lifts the ceiling on the fact we think we’re only capable of playing three periods and maybe one overtime.”
Hextall said Wayne Simmonds (core muscle) and Neuvirth (hip) were making great progress from recent surgeries and will both “absolutely” be ready for training camp and won’t be limited. Both will skate later in the summer. … The Phantoms are making their first trip to the conference finals since 2005. The Marlies (112 points), who are the Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate, and Phantoms (104) were the league’s top two teams in the regular season. … Center Morgan Frost and goalie Carter Hart are expected to join the Phantoms, Hextall said. It would be surprising, however, if they played. … The Flyers’ development camp in Voorhees is expected to be held June 28 to July 2.