May 24, 2024

It’s remarkable how swiftly situations can evolve in the NHL. During the recent off-season, Alex Lyon inked a two-year contract averaging a modest $900,000 per year with the intention of mentoring rising star Sebastian Cossa in Grand Rapids. However, he never made it to the AHL. The demand for solid goaltending in the league has surged, prompting Steve Yzerman to opt for a roster with three goaltenders to avoid losing one to waivers. This decision was influenced by the injury setback suffered by the Tampa Bay Lightning’s star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy at the start of the season; Yzerman wanted to prevent his former team from acquiring a valuable goalie through waivers.

The Detroit Red Wings are relieved to bid farewell to a challenging December, concluding the month with a 3-9-1 record. As they embark on a West Coast trip in 2024, an area historically unkind to the organization, there’s a sense of optimism. Strangely enough, the Red Wings haven’t returned from a California trip with a winning record since 2016 when they went 2-1—also the last time Detroit made the postseason. Their journey begins on Tuesday night in San Jose against the struggling Sharks, who have lost eight consecutive games. Subsequent stops include Los Angeles and Anaheim. To make this trip a success, Detroit aims to secure victories in two out of three games and will likely rely on Lyon to achieve this.

The Detroit Red Wings need to lean on Alex Lyon as they hope to fix their defensive and goaltending woes.

Lyon, aged 31, has had limited opportunities with only nine starts leading up to Tuesday’s match in San Jose. Nevertheless, he has swiftly demonstrated himself as Detroit’s top choice in goal. Lyon boasts a 5-4-0 record with a .920 save percentage and a 2.47 goals-against average. Additionally, he has achieved one shutout this season. His recent performances include back-to-back solid starts, making 33 saves in a win against the Nashville Predators, despite allowing four goals, followed by 19 saves in a loss to the Boston Bruins at home on New Year’s Eve.

Alex Lyon (ice hockey) - Wikipedia

Detroit has struggled to find consistent play from James Reimer and Ville Husso. While Husso showed signs of breaking out of a slump before getting injured, the extended absence raises concerns about potential rustiness upon his return. The remainder of the season appears to hinge on Lyon’s ability to handle an increased workload. Derek Lalonde should consider starting Lyon in at least two out of every three games until proven otherwise. The team, currently sitting fifth in the Atlantic Division, three points behind the Lightning, cannot afford mistakes at this juncture.

Lyon’s highest number of starts in a single season is just 14, achieved last season in Florida. Lyon played a crucial role in propelling the eighth-seeded Panthers into a postseason position, exclusively handling goaltending duties down the stretch. While he started the postseason as the main goaltender, the Panthers eventually turned to Sergei Bobrovsky as they faltered in the first round. Bobrovsky’s stellar performance helped them reach the Stanley Cup Finals.

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