From a version of the rock band Black Eyed Peas, “Let’s get it started (ha), let’s get it started in here.” Well, the Philadelphia Flyers are ready to rock and roll this coming season. This coming season of Flyers hockey will be unlike any others in years past. The Flyers have a ton of prospects in the farm system who are chomping at the bit to get their taste of the NHL. Will all these young prospects play in the fall for the big club? Absolutely not. However, some will and this has Flyers fans pumped for this coming season of Flyers hockey.
There are many players on the current Flyers roster that have a lot to prove this coming season. If these players do not improve from prior years, then the end result might be a young prospect taking their spot on the roster in the near future. In this week’s Part 4 segment, let’s look at Goaltender Michal Neuvirth.
Neuvirth signed a two-year deal with the Flyers in 2015. In his first season with the orange and black he posted an 18-8-4 record, 2.27 GAA, and .924 Save Percentage. Neuvirth also guided the Flyers to an unexpected playoff berth, where he was just flat out phenomenal in 3 games played against the Washington Capitals. For the playoffs Neuvirth posted a 2-1 record, .67 GAA, and a .981 Save Percentage. The Flyers eventually fell to the Capitals in 6 games, but Neuvirth proved to the Flyers he could handle pressure.
The Former Capitals goaltender, Neuvirth had his ups and downs in 2016-17. He finished the season with an 11-11-1 record, 2.82 GAA, and a .891 Save Percentage. Neuvirth signed a shocking two-year $5 million contract extension on March 1, 2017, to remain with the Flyers. Exactly one month later, Neuvirth collapsed on the ice during a game against the New York Islanders. Apparently, his symptoms were due to dehydration as he was released from the hospital the next day. Rookie goaltender Anthony Stolarz did finish the game en route to a Flyers 3-0 victory.
Let’s not forget Neuvirth’s numbers from last season are not very good from a veteran goaltenders standpoint. He will tell you that he could have made one more save. The Flyers finished the season with the 9th worst goals against per game, with an average GAA of 2.85. These numbers could have been a lot worse if it was not for the stellar play of rookie goaltender Stolarz. Stolarz finished the year 2-1-1 with a 2.10 GAA, and a .928 Save Percentage.
The Flyers as a team ranked 18th out of 30 teams with 236 goals against. They scored 219 goals for, giving them a -17 goal differential. These numbers have to improve next season make no mistake about it. Neuvirth may see a lot of action this coming season, as General Manager Ron Hextall is in favor of a goaltending tandem with he and Brian Elliott. The 28 year old goaltender in Neuvirth has to become more consistent, and remain healthy for a full-season. He has decent career regular season numbers with a 95-82-22 record, 2.68 GAA, and a .911 Save Percentage. However, Neuvirth is great in the playoffs by posting a 6-6 record, 1.92 GAA, and a .933 Save Percentage, so it shows he can handle the big stage.
Brian Elliott and Neuvirth will carry the load next season. However, Neuvirth may be on a short leash if he does not improve from this past season. Young goaltenders such as Alex Lyon and Stolarz are waiting in the wings for their opportunity to shine with the big club. Goaltending is one key to making the playoffs, so these numbers from last season must improve.
The addition of Elliott stabilizes the goaltending situation for the next few seasons. Neuvirth can do himself justice by staying healthy this coming season. If he does there is no doubt that he can return to the 2015-16 form. As a veteran in the NHL, Neuvirth knows he has to be better for the Flyers to have a shot at the playoffs this coming season. One thing is certain Flyers fans, the future is bright in Flyer land.
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports