When the Philadelphia Flyers recalled Alex Lyon from the AHL this morning, it was an indication that every was not alright with starter Brian Elliott. Elliott left the Flyers’ game against the New Jersey Devils last night after appearing to overextend himself going post-to-post in the third period. Elliott was then absent from practice today. While the exact ailment remains unclear, the team announced after practice that he suffered a lower-body injury and will be out approximately two weeks.
Neither Elliott nor the Flyers are strangers to injury. Elliott, 33, has missed more than 50 games due to injury in his NHL career, including 29 games last season alone. In his second year in Philadelphia, injuries have been a reoccurring issue for Elliott, particularly of the lower-body variety. Between Elliott missing time and Anthony Stolarz missing the whole 2017-18 season, Philadelphia was forced to lean on backup Michal Neuvirth, the rookie Lyon, and trade acquisition Petr Mrazek. A season later, only the names and roles have changed. This year it has been Neuvirth limited to just one game due to injury, Lyon hampered with injuries early on, and now another absence from Elliott, while preseason waiver pickup Calvin Pickard has had to stand in as the backup and now starter. With Stolarz and promising rookie Carter Hart also available, the Flyers continue to be saved by their depth these past two seasons, but would enjoy a stretch of health from their starter and primary backup at some point this season.
Through 14 appearances this season, Elliot is 6-7-0 with a .911 save percentage and 2.59 goals against average and he has improved as the season has worn on. His numbers are solid, but look incredible compared to the paltry performance of Pickard thus far. Pickard will have to step up over the next two weeks or more if the Flyers are to survive this stretch, or else Lyon will have to have another miraculous run like last season. Flyers beat writer Bill Meltzer also reports that Neuvirth skated yesterday and may potentially be able to return while Elliott remains sidelined. Whoever is able to take the reins in net in Philadelphia could be one of the team’s heroes this season. With a .500 record thus far, two weeks of poor goalie play could sink the team as they approach the one-third mark of the season.