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Hockey fans might recognize the name Alex Lyon. 

He has been in the NHL for what feels like a long time, but a deeper dive indicates that isn’t the whole truth. 

One thing is for certain, however: the Panthers wouldn’t be in this year’s Stanley Cup Final without him.

MORE: Golden Knights vs. Panthers Stanley Cup Final preview

Many will look back on his three starts in net to begin the playoffs as a head-scratching decision by head coach Paul Maurice, but Matthew Tkachuk’s meteoric rise into the “face of the NHL” debate doesn’t happen without the guy who will likely be wearing a baseball cap at the end of the Florida bench for the entire series vs. Vegas. 

Those three games against the Bruins in the first round were largely forgettable for the 30-year-old, but if the Panthers make history and win the Cup, everyone will know the story of Lyon’s magical two-week stretch in late March and early April. 

The Sporting News introduces you to Alex Lyon and explains why he has been so important to the Panthers this season.

Who is Alex Lyon?

Lyon entered the league with the Flyers in 2017 after going undrafted. The Minnesota native and Yale product has bounced back and forth between the AHL and NHL for a majority of his career; he has appeared in just 39 games across six seasons, with 15 of them coming this year for Florida. He played in two games for the Hurricanes in 2021-22.

The Panthers’ unsung hero signed a two-way contract with the team on July 13, 2022, and spent most of the season with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL. He had a six-game stint with the big club in January before rejoining the Panthers on March 19. 

MORE: Ranking players in 2023 Stanley Cup Final, from Matthew Tkachuk to Jack Eichel

Spencer Knight, Florida’s No. 2 goalie at the time, stepped away in February to receive care through the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. That opened the door for Lyon to stake his claim to the blue paint.

On March 29, Florida was in the midst of a four-game losing streak and looking up at the Penguins and Islanders in the Eastern Conference wild-card race. The battle for those two spots was intense, with about half a dozen teams in contention. 

Lyon started that night against the Maple Leafs and earned a 3-2 win. That started a six-game winning streak with the backup between the pipes. He stopped 194 of 203 shots and posted a 1.50 goals-against average during that span.

His play down the stretch — with No. 1 goalie Sergei Bobrovsky looking on from the bench — helped catapult the Panthers into the postseason. They needed nearly every one of their 82 regular-season games to get there.

MORE: Why do Panthers fans throw rats on the ice?

Bobrovsky would eventually reclaim the net during Game 3 against the Bruins after Lyon allowed nine goals on 92 shots in the first two-plus games (1-2 record). If the 34-year-old Bobrovsky hoists the Stanley Cup, he’ll have No. 34 to thank in large part.

Alex Lyon stats

Year Team GP GS W-L-OT SV% GAA
2017-18 Flyers 11 7 4-2-1 .905 2.75
2018-19 Flyers 2 1 0-1-0 .806 5.08
2019-20 Flyers 3 2 1-1-0 .890 3.55
2020-21 Flyers 6 5 1-3-1 .893 3.33
2021-22 Hurricanes 2 2 1-0-1 .908 2.93
2022-23 Panthers 15 14 9-4-2 .914 2.89
TOTAL   39 31 16-11-5 .904 3.05



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