PHILADELPHIA – When the Avalanche returns to the ice tonight at the Wells Fargo Center here in the city of brotherly… love… they will see an unfamiliar face behind the mask for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Alex Lyon, a former goalie with the Yale Bulldogs, will make just his third NHL start in the last two years, against the Avs. Philadelphia is without top goalie Carter Hart right now because of an abdominal strain.
Lyon started a game on Jan. 16 for the Flyers, against Montreal, getting tagged with a 4-1 loss.
Let’s talk a bit about the Avs’ place in the standings entering this one: One of the drawbacks of having all this time off since before and after the all-star break is other Western teams have played games and had the chance to get points. Yet, some of the Avs’ chief contenders in races either for a top-eight spot and/or a top-three spot in the division haven’t been playing all that great lately.
So, the Avs enter tonight’s game eight points behind the St. Louis Blues in the race for the Central title, but they now have three games in hand on them. If they can take care of business in those games, the race will get really tight. And, the Avs have the Blues in the final game of the regular season.
The Avs are only two points ahead of Dallas for the second spot in the division (which would guarantee home ice in the first round), but they have a game in hand on the Stars. They have FOUR games in hand over current Wild Card placeholder Arizona, and three games in hand on Winnipeg. Those games in hand are always important at the end of the year.
This is going to be a tough game tonight, though. The Flyers are 17-4-4 at home. We’ve seen the Avs get stoned by no-name goalies before, too.
I’m pretty sure Philipp Grubauer will oppose Lyon in goal, but that has yet to be made official.