Alex Lyon is ready.
More ready than at any time in his young career — and hoping to make a lasting impression during the Flyers' upcoming training camp.
Fact is, the personable 25-year-old goalie, thanks to a solid NHL debut last season, is the most confident he has ever felt as he tries to earn a roster spot.
Lyon feels he belongs.
Playing in 11 games for the Flyers last season, Lyon was 4-2-1 (four no-decisions) with a 2.75 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. The numbers weren't eye-opening, but Lyon did not look out of place, and he then played sensationally for the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms in 11 playoff games (.944 save percentage, 1.98 GAA).
Lyon said getting those NHL games under his belt was important for his psyche.
"Looking back, retrospectively, it's so mental," he said after joining a handful of early arrivals for an on-ice scrimmage in Voorhees the other day. "It's obviously a different brand of hockey in the NHL; they're the best. And when you believe you can compete, it makes a big difference. The first few games you get in there, you're like, 'I don't know if I belong here.' You try to convince yourself of that as much as possible, but once you find out, 'I can do this' [it makes a big difference]."
Lyon said he now knows "I don't have to put out a super-human effort" to be successful. "I just have to do what I can do and work as hard as I can."
Flyers veterans start camp Sept 14; rookie camp begins Sept. 9. Both camps are at the Skate Zone in Voorhees and are free and open to the public.
"The focus has to remain the same," Lyon said, "and I think I did a good job the last two years of coming in and focusing on myself and trying to get better, trying to work hard and put the best product on the ice. I feel like I've been successful with that recipe so far, and that's going to be my goal — just maintain focus on what I can control. It's exciting at the same time, and I think the excitement around the team in general this year is [high]. I just can't wait for the next two weeks. It's going to be awesome."
Lyon, who is sharing a Center City apartment with center prospect Cole Bardreau, is expected to be in a battle with injury-prone Michal Neuvirth for the No. 2 spot behind Brian Elliott. That is, assuming Elliott has fully healed from core-muscle surgery in February — and hotshot prospect Carter Hart doesn't dazzle in camp and do the unthinkable by earning a spot with the big team without ever playing in the AHL.
Hart, 20, is regarded as the Flyers' goalie of the future, but he figures to start the year with the Phantoms. And there's always the chance that the Flyers will deal Neuvirth during camp.
As for the chatty Lyon, he will get a chance to shine during some of the eight exhibition games.
Lyon made national headlines last spring when he recorded an astounding 94 saves in the Phantoms' 2-1 playoff win over Charlotte in a matchup that went five overtimes, the longest game in AHL history.