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 as they finally return home from a trip out West. It was a trip filled with a ton of highs, and fortunately not many lows (Asides from more injuries). Moreover, the orange and black gathered some much-needed points in the standings, 7 out of a possible 8 points as a matter of fact.
The Flyers have been faced with some adversity early this season. For instance, JVR getting hurt in just his second game of the season and unfortunately learning he would miss 5-6 weeks. Michael Raffl would then follow suit and was slated to miss 4-6 weeks with an injury. Of course, we cannot forget yet another injury to Michal Neuvirth, and now Brian Elliott missed last night’s game with an injury.
To start the 2018-19 season, Neuvirth missed four weeks with an apparent groin injury. If things couldn’t get much worse, Neuvirth is hurt yet again, as he was sent back home to Philadelphia this past Saturday before the Sharks game so he could see doctors. According to Ron Hextall, Neuvirth will be ready in four days. Unfortunately, it’s time to cut the cord with Neuvirth as he just isn’t reliable. The Flyers could then ride out the rest of the season with a Brian Elliott and Cal Pickard tandem. To make this a reality the Flyers should waive Neuvirth when he becomes healthy, and if he passes through waivers the orange and black could then send him down to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. This drama can no longer continue for a team that wants to take the next step this season.
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 the 2017-18 season were not too shabby from a Veteran Goaltenders standpoint. Neuvirth finished his injury plagued season with a 9-7-3 record, 2.60 GAA, and a .915 Save Percentage. His injuries throughout the season really put the Flyers in a bind, as they were forced to acquire a Veteran netminder in Petr Mrazek at the trade deadline, due to Brian Elliott’s injury, as well. Really there was no consistency from our Goaltenders towards the tail end of the 2017-18 season, thanks in large part due to injuries.
Neuvirth has decent career regular season numbers, while posting a 104-90-25 record, 2.68 GAA, and a .911 Save Percentage. However, Neuvirth is great in the playoffs by posting a 7-7 record, 2.32 GAA, and a .919 Save Percentage, so it shows he can handle the big stage. Elliott and Neuvirth were supposed to carry the load this season, but with the unreliability with Neuvirth this seems unlikely. When healthy Neuvirth is a solid Goaltender, but how much longer can this drama go on?
The 30-year-old Goaltender in Neuvirth, just can’t seem to catch a break. His numbers as stated are pretty solid. However, this is a young Flyers team that is supposed to take the next step this season. They can ill afford to continue with the Goaltending drama or carousel that we saw last season. Pickard has proven these past two games on this road trip that he is more than capable of shouldering the load for a short period of time.
Neuvirth was acquired and resigned by Hextall to provide stability on the back-end. However, due to injury after injury, Neuvirth just isn’t reliable enough to carry the load if Elliott goes out long-term. Goaltending is one key to consistency. Unfortunately, with an unhealthy Neuvirth, it may be holding the team back from becoming that consistent team we had hoped before the season began. Losing a guy that has great character in the locker room is tough, but waiving Neuvirth when he becomes healthy is the Flyers best option at this point. One thing is certain Flyers fans, the future is bright in Flyer land.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports