The Philadelphia Flyers have announced that goaltender Michal Neuvirth will be out more than a month after suffering an injury Saturday in the Flyers’ game against the Minnesota Wild. Although it was unclear when Neuvirth was actually injured (he never returned after the first period) or what exactly the injury is, GM Ron Hextall, a former goalie himself, has stated that it is a lower body injury that will keep the net minder out four to six weeks. In the meantime, Steve Mason will see even more ice time than he had and rookie keeper Anthony Stolarz is expected to be called up.
Neuvirth, like Mason, has struggled between the pipes this season for the Flyers. The Czech goalie has stopped just 85.9% of the shots he has faced and has a goals-against-average of 3.54 in nine games so far. His performance in 2016-17 has dropped off considerably from a year ago when he won 18 of his 29 starts and finished with a 92.4% save percentage while allowing just 2.27 goals-per-game.
Stolarz, meanwhile, is off to a fine start for Lehigh Valley of the AHL, winning six of his eight starts and compiling a save percentage of 92.7. He was originally selected by Philadelphia in the second round of the 2012 draft – 45th overall – following two seasons between the pipes for the London Knights of the OHL. Stolarz has spent the last two campaigns in Lehigh Valley, seeing action in 78 games and stopping 91.2% of the shots he has faced.
While Mason is likely to get most of the starts in Neuvirth’s absence, he too has had his problems this year for Philadelphia. His 88.0% save percentage ranks 34th among all NHL goaltenders with at least eight appearances this season. If he continues to scuffle, it’s possible Stolarz will be given more opportunities to prove himself at this level.
*Glen Miller contributed to this post.