LAS VEGAS — It looks as if Michal Neuvirth, the Flyers’ backup goalie, will attempt to play a similar role as Nick Foles did for the Eagles: Trying to steady the team after an injury to a key teammate.
Not many people believe Neuvirth, 29, will lead the Flyers to the Stanley Cup, but they do expect him to keep the Flyers competitive until Brian Elliott returns from a lower-body injury.
“That’s what being part of the team is all about. If someone goes down, a teammate has to step in,” coach Dave Hakstol said before Neuvirth started Sunday night’s game in Vegas. “We have confidence Neuvy can do that, whether it’s short term or long term.”
Elliott was injured making a shootout save in Saturday’s 4-3 win in Arizona. Clayton Keller’s stick came up and inadvertently hit Elliott’s mask, and the goalie may have injured his groin as he fell to the ground.
The Flyers would not give specifics on the injury, but Elliott flew with the team to Las Vegas. Alex Lyon was recalled from the Phantoms and was Neuvirth’s backup Sunday.
The club said Elliott, 32, would be re-evaluated when the Flyers return from Vegas. They will get to Philadelphia early Monday morning, and general manager Ron Hextall said he hopes to have a medical update later in the day.
With Elliott sidelined — he may have re-aggravated the same injury Saturday — the Flyers went 0-3-1 and allowed 4.50 goals per game from Jan. 25 to Feb. 3.
“I think if you call a spade a spade, there were a couple games there where Neuvy wasn’t at his best, and I think he’d tell you the exact same thing,” Hakstol said. “And there were a couple games where, as a team, we weren’t at our best.”
Lyon had just a 3.93 goals-against average and .860 save percentage in three of those games, including two starts.
The injury-prone Neuvirth (2.61 GAA, .911 save percentage entering Sunday) actually has slightly better numbers than Elliott, who has a 2.72 GAA and .908 save percentage. Elliott (21-11-7), however, has had the knack for making key saves at crucial times, and, for whatever reason, it seems the team plays better with him in the nets.
Neuvirth, who is 6-7-2, stopped all four shots he faced in Saturday’s shootout, and another shot was flubbed against him. According to the NHL, he became the first goalie to ever enter a game during a shootout and register the win.