More often than not, a player’s debut in the National Hockey League lacks what we call a “wow factor.” Occasions like Auston Matthews‘s four goals in his first game are few and far between. Most of the time, an individual’s first few games are just filled with nerves and the hope that any mistake goes unnoticed by the masses.
For a rookie goaltender, the amount of pressure felt is tripled. You are under a microscope the second the first puck is dropped, and every move you make is picked apart. In Alex Lyon‘s first start in net for the Philadelphia Flyers, he was acutely aware that the spotlight was on him which undoubtedly made the 25-year-old extremely nervous. The “first-day jitters” were apparent right from the beginning as Lyon appeared hesitant about every move he made and executed a few head-scratching actions.
To persecute the young netminder for his uncontrollable nerves in his first ever NHL start would be unfair. Laying the blame for Thursday night’s 4-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Lyon might not be the correct course of action either. However, the importance of the situation he was thrown into cannot be ignored. The Flyers are in the middle of a heated playoff race where every game is of dire importance. Although Lyon was not the sole reason for defeat, his lack of experience did not help the team’s cause.
The same can be said about Lyon’s second start on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators, which only lasted only two periods.Though the nerves seemed to have settled a bit, his limited skills were still on display for all to see. Unfortunately, at the NHL level, players can quickly expose observed weaknesses of a goaltender which results in limited opportunities for success. Of course, every player makes mistakes. However, when a goalie commits an error, it usually results in a goal for the opposition.
With Brian Elliott set to make his return on Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes, Lyon’s first stint in the NHL has come to an end. With only experiencing action in three contest, his sample size is limited. However, one thing is clear about Lyon and where he fits in in the Flyers organization. The young goaltender is not quite ready to be a fixture in the top professional hockey league. There is still plenty of development that needs to occur, and the best place for that to happen is Lehigh Valley. As Lyon’s skills continue to progress, his level of confidence will also increase. Of course, this can only be a good thing.
The fact is that injuries forced Alex Lyon to make his Flyers debut sooner than expected. This does not mean that he cannot man an NHL crease someday. That time is just not this season.
As for the Flyers, they will ecstatic to have Elliott return to the team as they look to turn things around and continue their push towards the postseason.