Perhaps not since Ron Hextall’s first tour between the pipes in Philadelphia have the Flyers had consistently good goaltending. The team has had plenty of talented players call Philadelphia home over the years but the lack of steady play in goal is primarily why the Flyers have not celebrated a Stanley Cup championship roughly four decades. Through 13 games this season it’s becoming apparent that goaltending is once again the Flyers Achilles heel, opines Sam Carchidi of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Flyers boast one of the league’s most prolific offenses, averaging nearly 3 1/2 goals per game while three of their skaters currently rank among the top-10 in scoring. But despite the offensive firepower, the Flyers are still a .500 team with a 6 – 6 – 1 record.
Philadelphia’s goaltending duo of Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth was excellent last season, ranking in the top-five in Save % and just outside the top-10 in GAA. They were good enough to carry the team to the postseason when many felt the roster was likely a year or two away from playoff contention. This season, however, it’s been a different story.
Mason owns a GAA of 3.46 and a Save% of 87.8%. Neuvirth, coming off a career season in 2015-16, has been even worse posting a 3.56 GAA and a 85.9% Save%.
While Hextall, now the team’s GM, and head coach Dave Hakstoll both believe that there’s more to the story than shoddy goaltending. Said Hextall: “There’s nobody here that’s going to point fingers at the goalies, or the D, or just the forwards. It’s the whole group on the ice.”
With Mason and Neuvirth both in the final years of their respective deals, it will be interesting to see how long the Flyers rides this out if they don’t see improved play in the goal prevention department. At some point the team might entertain a short term boost between the pipes. Or they could pivot entirely and try to acquire a a long term solution if they can find the right deal.
- New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault decided to scratch defenseman Dan Girardi for tonight’s game against Winnipeg, but according to Newsday’s Steve Zipay, it has nothing to do with either the play of the veteran blue liner or his health, but rather a concerted effort to give Girardi extra rest throughout the season. Girardi has long been the type who played through nagging injuries but after the worst season of his career in 2015-16, one that could be blamed at least in part on playing hurt, Vigneault plans to rest his defenseman for the second half of back-to-backs in order to keep him healthier and fresh. It’s hoped that the occasional game off mixed in with periodic maintenance days will reduce the accumulation of wear and tear his playing style tends to lend itself to and that Girardi will be a better player as a result. Adam Clendening will dress for the Blueshirts, making his sixth appearance for New York after sitting out the last seven contests.