As Alex Lyon was left waiting through much of the first two months of the NHL season for his first chance to step between the pipes for the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit coach Derek Lalonde made it a point to maintain open communication with the club’s No. 3 netminder.
“I probably went out of my way two or three different times to talk to him and just communicate (to find out) how he’s doing, (if he’s) hanging in there,” Lalonde said.
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The response Lalonde got from Lyon kind of caught the coach off guard. It was Lyon reassuring Lalonde not to worry.
“It’s always the same message,” Lalonde said. “He appreciates me talking to him but this is his role. He’s done it before. He’ll be ready when asked to go in and he certainly was.”
Lyon Giving Red Wings Consistency In Net
Playing Detroit’s last two games, Lyon is 1-1 with a shutout, a 2.00 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. Through his consistency, in the process, Lyon is providing an element to the Red Wings that neither Ville Husso or James Reimer were delivering. He’s giving the team confidence.
“We’re all really happy he got in there and did so well,” Detroit forward Robby Fabbri said of Lyon. “It’s huge for the group.”
A team that is confident in its goaltending plays with a swagger.On the other hand, a team lacking faith in its puckstopper plays with a caution bordering on fear.
“I know our goaltending’s had its ups and downs,” Lalonde said. “By numbers, I haven’t looked of late but we’re towards the bottom of teams in save percentage and team goals against.”
The latest math is showing Detroit to be tied for 15th in the NHL in GAA (3.17) and 17th in save percentage (.892).
“Those guys, even Ville and Reims, they’ve pointed in a majority of their games,” Lalonde said. “That’s why we’re kind of hanging into this battle. But they have had moments where they’ve been prone for some soft goals and I just think it kills us.
“You can see a dip in our play. And when it continues to happen, it’s tough to play past. I don’t know if we’re built for that constant adversity.”
Lyon Accustomed To This Role
Detroit’s is the fourth NHL organization for the undrafted Lyon. The 31-year-old netminder has never played more than 15 NHL games in a single season.
“He’s a mentally tough kid,” Lalonde said. “I think there’s some mental fortitude just with the nature of that position. He’s been a 2-3 for a lot of his career in the National Hockey League.”
For his part, Lyon simply shrugs at the notion that he’s doing something special by stepping in and standing on his head after sitting out so long. To him, this is business as usual. It’s what he does, it’s who be’s become as a professonal puckstopper.
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“I guess I just had to learn that nobody is given anything in this business,” Lyon said. “It’s a results-oriented business and you just have to continue to bring your best every day.
“All you can do is control what you can control. You can’t really worry about the circumstances. You learn along the way to keep your head down and grind and good things will happen.
“When I get that NHL opportunity, I need to make the most of it. Having that mindset has prepared me.”