Going into this season a worst case scenario unfolding for the Flyers was a serious injury to Brian Elliott. Without Michal Neuvirth unable to stay healthy, the onus was going to be on Elliott to play well and stay healthy for the Flyers. Beyond Elliott and Neuvirth, the Flyers have to resort to their prospects in the AHL and Calvin Pickard. Pickard did play well to lead the Flyers to a shutout over the Rangers yesterday, but hot starts like that have been rare for him.
Pickard owns a 3.58 GAA and 0.878 save percentage, so despite a good look yesterday, it’s been a troubling year for a Maple Leafs’ castaway. Pickard was released along with Curtis McElhinney a few months ago before the season began. Letting go of Pickard wasn’t the issue with some Leafs’ fans, but McElhinney getting shown the door was puzzling to a lot of people.
The Flyers weren’t able to sign McElhinney after the Hurricanes nabbed him, so they were left with the scraps and landed with Pickard. Pickard is not an everyday goaltender, not by a long shot. So, there next option is to go to the minors and see if they can survive with a combo of Pickard, Lyon, and Anthony Stolarz.
Stolarz was called up yesterday and he may get the call to go against the Penguins tonight. It’s unlikely Pickard goes on a back-to-back, so that leaves the two minor leaguers. The Golden Knights ran into a similar problem with goaltending issues last season and it of course worked out pretty well for them. Don’t expect the same results in Philadelphia. Head below for our free Flyers vs. Maple Leafs pick.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Pick
The Maple Leafs will be going to the guy who people weren’t too comfortable with acknowledging as the backup netminder in Toronto. With McElhinney gone, the only logical backup from the stable was Garret Sparks. Sparks is fine as a backup, but an injury that extends for a considerable amount of time to Andersen would signal a difficult situation for the Leafs. Sparks goes into Saturday with a 3.21 GAA and 0.906 save percentage.
He’s been kind of a wildcard during his career, as he’s spent the past couple of years in the AHL after posting a 3.02 GAA in his first stint in the NHL back in 2015-16. This will be his first outing against the Flyers in his career. The Flyers have been solid with 3.09 goals per game, but suffering defensively with 3.45 goals allowed per game.
The goaltending issue likely isn’t going to help the Flyers defensively. With Elliott injured, they have Pickard, Lyon, and Stolarz to rotate in net. Lyon has made one appearance in the NHL and it was not a debut to remember. He allowed 4 goals against the Sabres to finish with a 12.00 GAA and 0.667 save percentage.
Stolarz owns a 3.34 GAA and 0.889 save percentage in three appearances in the AHL with Lehigh. Whoever they sent out on Saturday isn’t going to be ideal. The Leafs have been playing well offensively without Matthews, as they still have plenty of horses in their lineup. They’ve averaged 3.5 goals per game in their last ten games despite no Matthews. This matchup likely sees enough offence to push the final score OVER the total.