SUNRISE, Fla. — With Flyers goalies Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth sidelined because of injuries, the spotlight is shining directly at Petr Mrazek.
So far, the results have been mixed.
Mrazek was superb in his first three games with his new team, including a 1-0 shootout win in Montreal. He won all three games and allowed a total of four goals.
But he has lost his last three games (0-2-1), surrendering 14 goals in that span.
It is that kind of inconsistency that caused Detroit to deal him to the Flyers on Feb. 19 for a pair of conditional draft picks.
To be fair, the Flyers’ defense hasn’t helped Mrazek much in the last three games, allowing numerous odd-man rushes and breakaways, and committing turnovers at an alarming rate.
“We have to do a way better job helping out,” defenseman Radko Gudas said after Sunday’s 4-1 loss in Florida.
Mrazek, 26, took the blame for Sunday’s defeat.
“I know we didn’t score the first two periods, but if the game had been 1-0 or 2-0 [instead of 3-0], we would have had a chance,” he said. “I have to support these guys better.”
The Flyers hoped a change of scenery would boost Mrazek’s confidence and allow him to regain the form that made him one of the NHL’s most promising young goalies in his early seasons with Detroit. It still might. There are 16 regular-season games left, and with Elliott and Neuvirth expected to miss most of them, Mrazek will have to carry the load.
By using Mrazek in back-to-back games over the weekend, Flyers coach Dave Hakstol made it clear he will ride the veteran and that he doesn’t have much confidence (yet) in rookie Alex Lyon.
If he wouldn’t use the rested Lyon against Florida, it seems highly unlikely he will go to him in one of the back-to-back games Wednesday (vs. Pittsburgh) and Thursday (in Boston) this week.
“It’s a big challenge and big games for us this week,” said Mrazek, a restricted agent this summer who, besides trying to steer the Flyers into the playoffs, is playing for a new contract. “We have to regroup and get back to work.”
Pittsburgh, the Flyers’ next opponent, also has goalie woes. Starter Matt Murray recently suffered the second concussion of his career, and the Penguins have been using the rookie tandem of Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith.
The Flyers are 0-2-1 in March — which is more regulation losses than they had in the entire month of February (10-1-2). … Claude Giroux has points in seven of the last eight games, during which he has four goals and eight assists. … The AHL’s Phantoms are on an 11-1-1 run and they sit atop the Atlantic Division with a 38-15- record. … In 18 games since being sent to the Phantoms, defenseman Travis Sanheim has 16 points and a plus-14 rating. He could be recalled if injured defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Johnny Oduya can’t play Wednesday. … Flyers prospect Morgan Frost tops the Ontario Hockey League with an eye-opening plus-64 rating. The center was picked in the first round last June with one of the selections the Flyers received in the deal that sent Brayden Schenn to St. Louis.