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Rookies, Bobrovsky Steal Flyers A Win

10 Jan

The Flyers haven’t had many games where a goalie has stolen the game. Considering the way their defense played, that didn’t appear likely on Tuesday. With the normal suspects coming up empty on the scoresheet, Sergei Bobrovsky was able to do it though. He stole the Flyers a 2-1 win with a pair of rookies taking over the scoring duties for the night.

Defensive problems have had the Flyers behind the 8-ball the past couple of games. According to one report, the team even talked about it for an hour on Monday, but on Tuesday it didn’t appear to help much.

In the first period, the Flyers came up limp in their defensive end, allowing 11 shots. Bobrovsky had an answer for all of them. Claude Giroux tried to erase a two-game silence with a great scoring chance six seconds into the game, but that was as close as the Flyers got to beating Cam Ward in the first.

With stars like Giroux, Jaromir Jagr and Danny Briere silent, the Flyers’ rookies took over. A little more than four minutes into the middle period, Brayden Schenn scored his second goal of the year on a rebound from a Wayne Simmonds chance.

Jerome Sansom finally beat Bobrovsky on a third effort on a Carolina power play with Kimmo Timonen in the penalty box for interference. Bobrovsky stopped two slapshots back-to-back, but couldn’t control the rebounds on the high-powered shots. Sansom was all alone in front and had an empty net to shoot in.

Instead of Giroux’s line — which has now gone scoreless in three games for the first time all season — it was another rookie who stepped up.

Sean Couturier took the puck into the Carolina end and for some reason, the Hurricane defender peeled off, giving him a clear path to the net. Couturier skated closer to the net and beat Ward on the short side. With the two goals and an assist from Harry Zolnierczyk, the Flyers now have 57 points from their rookies this season.

Bobrovsky won his first game since Dec. 29 making 35 saves. He was especially tested late in the contest, but came up big with the Hurricanes looking to tie the score.

The victory not only gave Bobrovsky a win, his 37th as a Flyer, it is also coach Peter Laviolette’s 100th with the club.

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Twitter Mailbag: Flyers At The Midway Point

10 Jan

From time to time, we reach into the Twitter machine and address some questions that Flyers fans have. With Tuesday night’s game sending the Flyers to the midway point of the year, this is a good time to take a step back and evaluate.

Here’s some of the best:

@ChristopheTaitt — i’m starting to think all the money the Flyers have in goalies is a waste! wasnt Bryz supposed to be stable goaltender?

Yes, he is. Although he said he knew what it would be like coming to Philly, I think he underestimated all the attention and definitely underestimated the microscope that the sports scene lives under. That said, I really think these last two games we’re seeing him play some really good hockey. Yeah, it’s tough to defend a guy who allowed five goals last game, but two of them were put in by his own teammates. I think we’re seeing a more confident Bryz. The question is whether he loses hope because of a loss that was really on his defense and not him.

@cubishboy — What’s the delay in calling Gus up?

I’m not entirely sure. He is physically ready, that much I know. He’s played five games since returning from a left wrist injury and has three assists in that time. In talking to him after the Outdoor Classic, he says he’s just waiting on the Flyers for a call. Andreas Lilja has been a liability on the back line, but he makes $737,500 and Gustafsson makes $900,000. It behooves the Flyers to use as little of their long-term injured reserve cap relief as possible

@RipVanEichwald — supposing bryz doesn’t turn his game around, are there any outs in his contract?

Right now, no. The school of thought exists that the next CBA might have a “get out of jail free” card to use on one contract. Even if the Flyers got that, they probably wouldn’t use it on Bryzgalov’s contract. The more likely scenario is that they use it on Chris Pronger, who has five years left on his deal after this season.

@Flyerdelphia — If they wanted to call up Leighton does he have to go thru re-entry waivers?

They don’t, but yes, he would.

@John_Devereaux — How realistic do u think getting Shea Weber or Ryan Suter would be? Or do they suck it up and bring up an Erik Gustafsson?

Paul Holmgren is becoming more and more unpredictable. Right now, I think the Flyers will keep with what they have. Come time for the trade deadline (Feb. 27) if the Nashville Predators don’t think they’re making a run, I think the Flyers could go after Shea Weber. To me, Weber looks like Pronger in 1999. I guess we’ll see what Holmgren thinks in late February.

@major78 — …Dave…Why all the turnovers lately? How did Ott shut down our #1 line?…What are the fixes?

Claude Giroux told reporters that it wasn’t so much what the Senators did to him, but rather his own uninspired play. Most of the turnovers lately have come in the Flyers’ own end. The fix is just to play more responsibly defensively. Some passes need to not be made.

@Estebomb — Can the Flyers throw Chris Pronger into a Batman type Lazarus Pit to revive him? What about a time machine?

There are side effects to the Lazarus Pit. What if he comes out as Ra’s al Ghul? As for the time machine, the Flyers don’t have enough cap space for the DeLorean.

Jakub Voracek Finding Other Ways To Contribute

10 Jan

Jakub Voracek didn’t really know what to expect. He was traded to Philadelphia from Columbus, where the last year of his entry-level contract was marred by only one point in his final 16 games and coach Scott Arniel calling out the top-six forward for his conditioning, or, apparently, lack thereof.

“It was the worst time in my life in my NHL career,” said Voracek in early November. “Even though it was a tough situation, in [16] games if you are playing on the first or second line you have to be able to get more than one assist, secondary assist. I mean, somehow you’ve got to get it.

“It’s impossible to not have it, but really that time nothing went in and we didn’t play well as a team. I didn’t play well as a player, point-wise, and the season ended that way. But I did everything in the summer to [not] let it happen again.”

Recognizing the fresh start, Voracek went to Montreal to begin working on his conditioning and on his shot. He was one of the last ones to arrive at camp, but that’s no reflection of his work ethic. He wanted to be in top shape when he arrived.

Voracek came with high expectations in Columbus. He was drafted seventh overall in 2007, and the Blue Jackets were hoping for a 20-goal scorer, but he never seemed to pan out. Many there said that he had a problem with work ethic – but that hasn’t been an issue in Philadelphia.

“I think Jake is one of those guys who has been playing better and better and better as the season goes on,” said linemate Danny Briere. “I think when you go from one team to another, there’s a lot at first. You’re trying to get in as far as a system, teammates, how it works, new house, new place. There was a lot of work into that for him at first. Slowly, he’s starting to get more and more comfortable.”

Voracek has gotten comfortable on the second line. He’s gotten comfortable on the penalty kill. He’s gotten comfortable on the power play. The only thing he’s not comfortable doing, apparently, is shooting. And he knows it, too.

“I have a good shot, I just don’t use it,” said Voracek. “So many times I can shoot it and at the last second, the pass comes in my head. If I change it and I be a little more selfish — I don’t mean I won’t pass — but if the pass is not there and I’m not looking for it and I shoot it, that way I can be better at it. It will be better for me and the team.”

Voracek is eighth on the team with 82 shots taken. He has six goals, but two of which were game winners. On the surface, the total seems low, but his game this year has been finding his teammates. He already has 20 assists, nearly halfway through the season. His career-high is 34, and he’s on pace to beat that by seven. His first instinct is simply to pass.

“It’s tough,” said Voracek. “You have the puck, you have a clean shot, then you see a teammate back door or something. Just that little time, you stop thinking about it. Then when you want to shoot the puck, it’s too late.”

The pucks have only gone in a handful of times for Voracek this season, but he’s been effective in other ways. He sees time on both the penalty kill and the first unit on the power play.

“Well, I was prepared to play power play,” said Voracek. “I wasn’t prepared to play penalty kill. Regardless, I’m playing almost 20 minutes a night, which is great. Penalty kill, power play and when you see the coach trusts you, it’s a good sign.”

The knock in Columbus was against Voracek not living up to the hype. Here in Philadelphia he isn’t expected to be a star and, so far, he’s done everything the Flyers have asked of him.

“I always say if the team is playing well, the player is playing well,” said Voracek. “I think we’re playing very solid hockey games. We are four points out of first.

“It’s hard to say. The team’s playing well and I think I’m where I wanted to be. If the coach trusts you and has confidence in you, it’s always a great sign.”