Archive | 11:18 PM

Despite Struggles, Flyers Still Back Bryzgalov

5 Jan

WELLS FARGO CENTER — It would have been a nice game if it stopped six minutes earlier. Ilya Bryzgalov had made a few real big saves to keep the Flyers in position to win. They had scored three goals in 4:20 to erase Chicago’s lead and give themselves one of their own.

Then it happened. Brent Seabrook took a Marc-Andre Bourdon slapshot that went off the post the other way and put it behind Bryzgalov. Then 25 seconds later Patrick Kane tied the game from point-blank range.

Luckily for Bryzgalov, James van Riemsdyk came up “humongous big” with the game winning goal in the final 32 seconds.

“There’s a lot of pressure on him obviously to come out and have a good game,” said Scott Hartnell. “Some weird plays. You leave Kane in the middle of the slot for what seemed like 10 seconds and you got the puck. A couple stickhandles and it goes right under the bar and in.”

Bryzgalov made 30 saves in his first win since Dec. 13 in Washington. He had lost his last four games and was benched for the Winter Classic.

“The second goal was tough,” said Peter Laviolette. “Kimmo [Timonen] was trying to get to the guy and they accidently hooked up with each other. That was a tough one. The fourth one, the coverage that we had wasn’t very good out there. We were reeling. I wished I had my timeout in my pocket so we could have slowed it down after the third goal, but I’d already burned it.

“He made big saves when we needed him to make big saves.”

Despite the rough stretch, his teammates have his back and think this could be the start of him bouncing back.

“I believe myself that he’s gonna be the goalie that leads us to a Stanley Cup victory,” said Hartnell.

Bryzgalov was not available for comment after the game. A team spokesman said that he was feeling ill and didn’t want to talk to the media. But at 10:45 p.m. he was well enough to tweet about the World Junior Championship where Russia lost 1-0 in overtime to Sweden.

His tweet praised Andrei Makarov, the Russian netminder who came up with the loss. Bryzgalov got his first win in almost a month, but apparently didn’t want to talk about that.

 

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Flyers Survive Third Period Collapse

5 Jan

WELLS FARGO CENTER — No one seemed to know why, but the Flyers didn’t appear to like playing at Wells Fargo Center. Citizens Bank Park was no better. On the road, they were fine, but an 8-6-2 record at home, like the real home, was not what Peter Laviolette was looking for.

“Home record is not where it needs to be,” said Laviolette. “Road record is excellent. We’ve got to start taking care of these home games and making sure they go in the [win] column. We need some attitude here with how we play the game.”

Attitude, jump, deflation, redemption, it was all accounted for in the Flyers’ 5-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. As if a test at home wasn’t tough enough, Laviolette’s bunch found themselves down early when Zac Rinaldo turned the puck over and it led to a Jimmy Hayes goal on a tip-in.

Rinaldo wanted to make up for it, so he fought Andrew Shaw to restart his night. He followed with a solid effort in both the offensive and defensive zones. The Flyers regained their composure and tallied in the final minute when Jakub Voracek scored his first goal in nine games on the rebound of a Braydon Coburn point shot.

Shaw scored for Chicago in the second period, but then the Flyers went on a tear. They scored three goals in 4:20 to give themselves a comfy two-goal lead, the most dangerous kind. Scott Hartnell started the comeback with a game-tying one-timer from Claude Giroux.

“It’s always great to have a good shift after an opponent scores a goal to try and get the momentum back,” said Hartnell. “[Matt] Read made a nice play to Giroux. I was popping up in the slot. The puck kind of got deflected and was up in the air and I whacked it out of the air and was able to go five hole.”

Harry Zolnierczyk added his third of the year and James van Riemsdyk his 10th later in the second period.

In the third, the Flyers came unraveled before they could blink. Marc-Andre Bourdon took a shot off the left post and Chicago took the puck the other way where Brent Seabrook ripped a shot to get Chicago within one. Then, only 25 seconds later, Patrick Kane tied it with a point blank shot from the slot.

After a Kane high-sticking call, the Flyers had the opportunity to go ahead on the power play and they took it. Hartnell fed van Riemsdyk down low for the game-winning power play tally with 32.5 seconds left.

“I was yelling for G and he made the better play, I think,” said van Riemsdyk. “He gave it to Hartsy and Hartsy put it right on my tape. All I could do was slide it right into the net.”

Not only did the win improve their record at Wells Fargo Center, but the Flyers kept up in the standings. They remain four points behind the New York Rangers for the best record in the league.

“It’s something that has been emphasized over the last stretch of home games, whenever that was,” said Matt Carle. “We know we need to step it up and if we do the kind of work we do on the road, we’ll be pretty successful team. I think a game tonight will hopefully kickstart some confidence at home and just kind of bring that road mentality to this building.”

Kimmo Timonen Leaves Game With Upper-Body Injury

5 Jan

WELLS FARGO CENTER — The games that the Flyers have played without Chris Pronger have proven that Kimmo Timonen may actually be the cornerstone of the defense. In his career with the Flyers, the warrior has missed only seven games in four seasons and change. But that might change soon.

Timonen left the game after the first period at the 10:30 mark having played only 3:30. He returned to join the team and start the second period. He played another three shifts and another 1:47. But then he left again.

Midway through the third period, the Flyers announced that Timonen would not return with an upper-body injury. After the game he was seen with a soft brace on his left wrist. If he’s gone long, they’re in serious trouble. But they aren’t ready to admit that.

“That’s speculation at this point,” said Peter Laviolette. “I’d rather not comment on that because I don’t know for sure that that’s the case.”

Flyers Notebook: Jagr Skates, Bryzgalov Gets The Start

5 Jan

WELLS FARGO CENTER — Whether it’s his calf or his groin, something is ailing Jaromir Jagr. The good news, the winger said on Thursday, is that it won’t keep him out of the lineup too long.

He joined the team for morning skate but did not take part in any drills. While all the forwards wore white jerseys, Jagr wore orange and did some skating to stay in shape.

“It’s totally different than it was the first time,” said Jagr. “The first time I got injured, I felt a sharp pain. This one was a different pain, and it wasn’t that much pain. But I knew if I was played longer, it could get a lot worse. That’s why I stopped playing [Monday].”

While the pain is still there, it is minute according to Jagr. He said that when he becomes pain-free, he’ll give it a go. The initial diagnosis from the Flyers was seven to 10 days, but he thinks it might actually be a little sooner.

“I was kind of shocked when I heard that because I didn’t feel that way,” said the 39-year-old. “But I’m saying sometimes when you cannot skate, when you come back you need an extra three days to practice to get into game shape. When I’m skating like I did today, I don’t feel any pain. That’s to my advantage. Soon, I feel when I’m ready I can go, because I’ll be in good shape.”

On more than one occasion this season, Jagr has said that he really wants to prove what he can do in the playoffs, that that’s why he doesn’t feel pressured to return from an injury too soon. He also had some concerns about ice time in the offseason before he signed with the Flyers, but being on the top unit further alleviates his fears. But still, he doesn’t enjoy sitting out.

“To me, every game is big,” said Jagr. “You can see it. Don’t get me wrong, but in the new NHL, with the one-point for a (overtime and shootout loss), the race is too tight. You lose five or six games, you’re out of the playoffs. Look at Washington, they lost five or six games and they’re in 10th place. Everything is so close that you cannot afford to lose a lot of games. Every game is big for me.”

Bryzgalov Back In Net

After watching the last two games from the bench, Ilya Bryzgalov will go back between the pipes for the Flyers against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Despite the festivities being over, he continued to practice in the old school brown pads, glove and blocker. In fact, that’s a look the other goalie has adopted as well. Sergei Bobrovsky is wearing the brown pads after wearing his normal gear in the Winter Classic. He told Philly Sports Daily that he likes the pads and will continue to break them in.

Bryzgalov has a career 7-6-4 record against Chicago, but the nod to him is more about getting his confidence back.

“I expect him to go in there and play well,” said Peter Laviolette. “Again, my moves [to sit him in the Winter Classic] were made not necessarily for that reason. I already stated that it was based on [Sergei Bobrovsky] and the way he had been playing, those numbers. That’s what we did.”

The Flyers say that Bryzgalov has had a different attitude recently and there has been a newfound work ethic in practice.

“I think you can see he’s been working hard,” said Claude Giroux. “The last few practices he wants to get better. Everybody knows he’s a good goaltender. He’s just had some bad bounces. If he works hard like he’s been doing the last few weeks, I’m not even worried about it.”

Have no fear, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Bryzgalov will go without personality.

“He’s always gonna be joking around,” said Matt Carle. “I just think that’s his personality. I think once the puck drops hopefully the focus will be there. He’s a great goalie. He earned that contract that he has. Just because he had a bad stretch of games, I don’t think it means much. He’ll get back on track and we have all the confidence that he will.”

Giroux Not Worried About All-Star Snub

5 Jan

WELLS FARGO CENTER — It’s still a foregone conclusion that Claude Giroux will be playing in the NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa later this month, we just have to wait a little longer for that announcement.

On Thursday morning, fan voting ended and six players were announced as the starting lineup for the All-Star Game. Giroux was not among them. Instead, four Senators and one Maple Leaf topped the charts north of the border.

Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf and Tim Thomas are the starting six of this year’s All-Star Game as voted by the fans, many apparently in Ottawa.

“They want to see their own in the All-Star Game,” said Danny Briere. “I get that. I understand that. That’s why only the top six get voted in. Claude definitely has his place there. He’s probably gonna be the first one, or at least the top three, that will be added right away. It’s not even a question mark in his regard.”

Giroux doesn’t feel miffed. He didn’t even know the announcement was coming, so he was far from worried about it.

“Nah, I understand,” said the Flyers leading scorer. “I think everybody understands. It’s in Ottawa; they want Ottawa players to be there. That’s fine.

“I’m not gonna judge the way they do it. It really doesn’t matter. I don’t know what to say. It seriously doesn’t bother me one bit.”

Giroux has 18 goals and 28 assists this year for the Flyers. He is second in the league in scoring will, in all liklihood, be heading to a second straight All-Star Game. He admitted that it would be special being in his home providence of Ottawa.

“I don’t care if it’s top six, I just want to make the team,” said Giroux. “That would be pretty cool and to go back to back would be pretty cool. It’s in Ottawa where my friends are. It would be a pretty good experience.”

Peter Laviolette has not been shy about his feelings on Giroux’s All-Star status.

“Maybe I’m biased,” said the coach. “If I had to start a team, I’d pick him first over anybody else in the league.”

Giroux finished seventh in overall voting with 385,253 votes. Linemate Jaromir Jagr was just outside of the top 10 with 255,178 votes, 48,548 shy of Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin. Laviolette also insinuated on Thursday that Scott Hartnell could be an All-Star candidate. Imagine the Flyers’ entire top unit going to the All-Star Game.

“Whatever happens, happens,” sad Jagr. “If I would go, I’d go. If I don’t go, I will practice and I’m gonna get better. Either way it’s fine with me. If I go, I’m gonna have fun. If I don’t go I’m gonna stay here and work hard and I’m gonna get ready for the playoffs.”

Chicago’s Stanley Cup Still Haunts Flyers

5 Jan

VOORHEES, N.J. — Danny Briere still can’t bear to watch. When it comes on television, he closes his eyes, looks away or changes the channel.

On June 9, 2010, Patrick Kane found himself with the puck along the left wing of the Flyers’ zone in overtime of a 3-3 Game 6 where the Blackhawks were up 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Final.

He deked and beat Kimmo Timonen outside. He stayed outside and just before crossing the goalline, he fired on net. The puck went through the legs of Michael Leighton and into the far side of the net, where it got stuck under the padding. No one but Kane knew where it was.

While the other 20,000 people in Wells Fargo Center were clueless, Kane threw off his gloves and skated toward Antti Niemi in celebration.

“I remember the next day waking up and there’s no meeting, there’s no media scrums, there’s no fans, there’s nobody waiting for you anywhere,” said Briere. “It was a very, very empty feeling. When I woke up, that’s when I started realizing what was going on. I don’t even remember after the game when I did.”

On Thursday, both teams will be on the ice in Philadelphia for the first time since that goal was scored. That said, few remain from that game for either team. Only seven active Flyers and nine Blackhawks are still with their respective teams since the 2010 Stanley Cup Final ended.

The Flyers played the Blackhawks last season, a 4-1 win at the United Center. But this is the first game in Philadelphia since Chicago won the Cup and don’t think for a second that the Flyers forgot.

“I’m sure it’ll cross everyone’s mind that was on our team that year,” said Scott Hartnell. “It was obviously a disappointing end to that season. It was a great run, everything like that. But coming up short always leaves bad memories in the back of your head. But there won’t be much motivation needed. We’ve got to get back to our winning ways. Our home record has been quite poor all season, and we’ve got to change that.”

The Flyers have lost two consecutive home games and need to right the ship at Wells Fargo Center. Between the HBO cameras and all the hoopla surrounding the Winter Classic, the Flyers are used to potential distractions. But this memory is one they firmly believe will help motivate them for a win.

“Anytime you think of Chicago, you’re going to think of them stealing the Stanley Cup from us,” said Claude Giroux. “Obviously it’s motivation for us to win every game. I remember last year, it was a big game for us. We won that game, but we’ve got to make sure we do the same thing here.”

The Flyers have been slipping in the standings. After the Winter Classic, they are now four points behind the New York Rangers and Western Conference-leading Blackhawks.

“We gotta get back on track here,” said Peter Laviolette. “We’re home for a couple games, back at the Wells Fargo building. We gotta take care of those games and pay attention to our home games.

“The home record is not where it needs to be. We have an opportunity [Thursday] and it’s a good hockey team, so we have to be ready to play.”

Only four teams in the league have fewer home wins than the Flyers who have eight. Ten of the Flyers’ 13 games in December came on the road, but this is a new year, a new month and the Flyers have seven home games in January. It’s time to turn the page on not only the calendar, but a new attitude at home.

“We look at it as we gave up two points to the Rangers the other night, a team we’re trailing,” said Braydon Coburn, “so it’s a game that we need.”

The two points up for grabs Thursday are very valuable for the Flyers who need them to keep from slipping too far. That will be the focus when the puck drops, but when the teams first see each other, there may still be one last bit of demon that needs to be exercised.

“I’ve never seen the puck go in,” said Briere, “and I don’t think I’m ready to see it yet.”