Meltzer player profiles: Alex Lyon
In his fourth professional year since the Flyers retired from Yale University, 27-year-old goaltender Alex Lyon has enjoyed a healthy season in 2019-2020. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound goalie has appeared in 32 American Hockey League games for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this season and three NHL games for the Flyers.
Even before this season, Lyon were well established as a bona fide starter to the AHL. He was particularly good in the Phantoms’ run to the Eastern Conference Final in the 2018 Calder Cup playoffs (1.98 GAA, .944 SV%, winning the goalie in an epic five-overtime game. against Charlotte). On an annual basis, it posted save percentages between 0.913 and 0.916.
This season, Lyon shared the starting tasks in tandem with JF Berube, traded since. In a season in which the team fell short of expectations, Lyon posted a 2.69 goals-against average and .912 save percentage against a record 11-14- 5.
When Carter Hart fell at the end of January with a tense abdominal muscle, the Flyers recalled Lyon. He performed well in a January 16 loss to Montreal, which has been a rare ice slam at home for the Flyers this season. Lyon stopped 36 of 40 shots in this match.
On February 1, Alain Vigneault beat up Lyon to start a home game against the Colorado Avalanche; one of the best teams in the Western Conference. Lyon put in a 28-save performance behind a team that entered the game with a significant fatigue disadvantage. The Flyers won, 6-3. Subsequently, Vigneault identified Lyon’s game as the “difference in this game”.
Shortly after Lyon made a backup appearance against New Jersey on February 6, Hart was cleared to return to play. Lyon returned to the Ghosts. If and when the suspended 2019-20 NHL season is over, rosters will increase. With the AHL season canceled, each NHL team will need to wear a third goalie in the event of an injury. At that point, Lyon would be the clear favorite for the Flyers’ third place goalie.
Lyon is a brain hockey player, both on and off the ice. During the NHL break, Lyon embarked on a self-designed, goaltender-specific training program to be ready if and when the call comes to join the Flyers roster. After the current season, Lyon will become an unrestricted free agent.
FIVE KEY FACTS
1) Lyon’s victory over Colorado was the fifth victory of his NHL career and the first since March 22, 2018 (at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers). Overall, he’s been in 16 games in the NHL, with 10 starts. He’s 5-4-1, 3.15 GAA and 0.893 save percentage in his games with the Flyers.
2) At the AHL level, Lyon often played their best hockey in the home stretch. Despite going 1-1-2 in their last four starts for the Phantoms before the AHL break and eventual cancellation, Lyon have performed fairly well in three of the four games, particularly a 33-save effort in a 2-1 overtime loss to Wilkes Barre / Scranton Penguins on February 11.
3) At AHL level this season, Lyon have made 30 or more saves in 13 of their starts, including a 37-save launder from the Laval Titan at the PPL Center on January 11.
4) Lyon drew international attention across the hockey world when they made 94 saves, including 79 in a row, in the Phantoms 2-1 win on May 9-10, 2018. The game started in 7:03 p.m. ET on May 9. and ended at 1:09 am the next morning.
5) Lyon’s longest serve in the NHL came in the 2017-18 season when he made seven starts and four relief appearances for the Flyers (7-4-2, 2.75 GAA,. 905 SV%).
– LehighValleyPhantoms (@LVPhantoms) January 12, 2020
1) January 11 vs Laval: In a scoreless game until the end of the second period, Lyon repelled the 37 shots they faced as the Phantoms beat the Laval Titan, 2-0. Lehigh Valley successfully killed five penalties, thanks in large part to Lyon. After the Phantoms were beaten by a 9-3 lead in the first period, their goalie turned back 28 shots in the final 40 minutes of play (including 15 saves in the third period alone).
2) February 1 vs COL: Lyon were excellent in goal for the Flyers in a 6-3 win over the Avalanche, stopping 28 of 31 shots. He had little luck on the shots that were thrown and was severely tested several times. Lyon dominated, Philipp Grubauer, who stopped 22 of 27 shots.
They said it
“There is no doubt that the difference in this game [against Colorado] is Alex. We struggled to defend and struggled to make plays with the puck in the first period and he kept us in it. It just shows the importance of the goalkeeper, he made some big saves early in the game when we did this bad. read and gave 2 against 1 he made a great save which I think gave him confidence but also should have given us confidence right away but we let him make 6 or 7 big saves to really put our self-confidence. “
– Alain Vigneault, February 1, 2020
“It’s extremely gratifying personally. I think it’s such a mental battle. The physical side of the game is not the difficult aspect for a goalie from the American League to the NHL. mental side, but it’s on every man. If someone doesn’t trust, everyone knows it’s no secret. I’m just trying to run trust and trust myself . I’ve done it a million times, I’ve done it in a million different games. It’s easy here. We’ve got a really good bunch of guys. “
– Alex Lyon, February 1, 2020