Tag Archives: ilya bryzgalov

New Flyers Quickly Becoming Fan Favorites

Three games into the young NHL season and the Flyers stand 3-0. I attended the home opener on Wednesday, and the building was loud as ever. It’s almost as if Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were never there. All of the new faces have been contributing in their own ways, but there are a few of the new guys who really stand out. During player introductions and throughout the game, new players were treated just as warmly as older ones, but some more than others. I want to look at three new Flyers who really have made an impact not just on the ice, but in Flyers fans’ hearts as well.

Ilya Bryzgalov
He’s the goaltender this city has been waiting years for. So far, the Bryz has been as good as advertised, and has provided some awesome quotes to the media with his quirky sense of humor. He posted a shutout in the second game of the season at the Devils, something the 2010-2011 Flyers team could not do at all. If he can consistently keep us in games and maybe steal a game or two for us, Bryzgalov is well on his way to being beloved by Philly. He received a nice cheer during the player introductions, and plenty of them when he made some timely saves on the penalty kill.

Wayne Simmonds
I love this guy. When he came over in the Richards trade, I knew we had a prototypical Flyer on our hands but I was not sure exactly if he’d crack the lineup past the 3rd line. Well, here we are three games into the season and Simmonds is on our second line with Briere and Voracek, and sees extensive powerplay time. Simmonds is a young, energetic, talented hockey player. He goes to the dirty areas of the ice, and wreaks havoc in front of the net. Most scrums in front of the net start with this guy, and the fans love him. Every time he mixed it up or got in the middle of something, the fans cheered. I’ve seen some Simmonds jerseys popping up, and it won’t be long before we see more. And did I mention he could fight too?

Jaromir Jagr
For a player who was vehemently hated when he was on the other side, #68 has found that the City of Brotherly Love can be quite accommodating if you wear the right jersey. I grew up watching him kick our ass on the Penguins and the Rangers, and never really liked him. At 39 years old, Jagr has proven so far that he still has some in the tank and we’re all hoping he can go the distance this year. Now we’re not worried about having to take him off the puck because he’s on the good guys side for once. Along with Bryzgalov and Simmonds, I think Jagr is one of the new players who has really excited the fan base and draws most of the cheers. His intro and plays during the home opener were met with loud support and I’ve seen a LOT of Jagr jerseys. Probably the most out of any new player. Jagr has helped revitalized the powerplay that struggled so much last year with his great cycle game, and if he can continue playing a two-way game and contributing offensively, the Flyers should have a very successful year. His chemistry with Giroux is building, and if them two can find a way to fully get on the same page with VanRiemsdyk, this line could be one of the scariest in hockey.

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Posted by on October 15, 2011 in Flyers Talk and Other


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Flyers Home Opener 2011

The Vancouver Canucks head into Philadelphia tonight when the Flyers return after starting the season 2-0 on the road to play for the first time in front of their home fans. The Flyers have turned in two solid 60 minute efforts on the road against the defending champions and one of their division rivals, and look to build on their early successes. Claude Giroux leads the team with two goals so far, and Ilya Bryzgalov leads the league with both save percentage and goals against average in the young season. The defense has been good with Pronger still slowly rounding back to form, and the offense has been tenacious on the forecheck and backcheck in creating turnovers and offensive chances. Ilya Bryzgalov has made some dazzling saves, and things seem to be working out just fine so far.

Bryzgalov’s presence has shown a lot to this team already besides his stats. Due to the change in forward personnel and goaltending, this seems more confident in their goaltender and not afraid to lose. Last year, it was clear that the Flyers were having trouble staying confident with their defense in the playoffs because of many soft goals being allowed towards the end of the year. When forwards are worrying about every move they make that can lead to allowing goal, it breaks up the flow of the game and their concentration. Our defense is packed with veteran leaders like Timonen and Pronger and stout younger defenseman like Meszaros and Coburn. If they can continue defending Bryz the way they have and let him make the saves he has to, there is no reason the Flyers should not be a very successful team this year.

The forward lines seem to be clicking as well, with Giroux and Jagr continuing their chemistry they built in the pre-season. Briere has yet to find the score sheet, but seems to be meshing with new linemates Simmonds and Voracek pretty well. First round draft pick Sean Couturier has also played very well in the first two games. He has been a major factor on the penalty kill and has displayed his all-around play that the draft reports talked about in the off-season. He makes things very hard on the Flyers in their decision making coming in the next couple weeks. Blair Betts returned to the Flyers after being deemed unhealthy by the Canadiens, and our contract limit and cap space are making it hard to keep these players. Brayden Schenn is likely for a call-up at some point this year, so we will have to see. Like I said in the past, this forward unit and team as a whole might need some time to get their stuff together; but don’t discount this team for a second. Filled with young talent up and down the roster, there is a very bright season and an even brighter future ahead of this team.

Face-off is 7:30 tonight, let’s see if the Flyers can take down the defending Western Conference Champions.

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Posted by on October 12, 2011 in Flyers Talk and Other


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It’s Finally Here: New Era of Flyers Hockey Begins Tonight

The Flyers return to the TD Garden in Boston tonight for the first time since they ended their playoff hopes there back in April. The Bruins, fresh off of an impressive run through the playoffs and a Stanley Cup victory, will be hoisting their championship banner into the rafters to kick off their 2011-2012 campaign. The Flyers open up their first two games on the road before heading home against the Canucks next week, so this one should be a good test.

The Bruins are largely unchanged from their roster last year, with lots of depth on the forward lines and a stout defense backed by impressive goaltenders. The Flyers are coming off a forward overhaul and a big signing of a top-tier goalie. Tonight’s game should be a great game for hockey fans to add the budding Philly/Boston rivalry that was rekindled during the Winter Classic and the 2010 playoffs. How will the Flyers match up? Will the forwards begin to gel with such a young squad? Will the defense hold up this season? Is Bryzgalov worth his price?

The biggest makeover this season was the Flyers’ forward corps. The departures of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Ville Leino, Kris Versteeg, Darroll Powe, Dan Carcillo, and Blair Betts left holes all over our line-up. However, the additions of Wayne Simmonds, Jaromir Jagr, Jakub Voracek, Maxime Talbot, Matt Read, Sean Couturier, and (eventually) Brayden Schenn will all see action this season to fill a role. Claude Giroux, Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, and James VanRiemsdyk will all have to carry the load for the offense as returning players. That’s not to say that the new guys will not be contributing either; because Jagr, Read, Voracek, and Simmonds will see an expanded role offensively for the Flyers. Most of these guys are very young and will have to gather chemistry with each other in order to be successful against some of the top talent in the East. Their age hopefully will equal energetic shifts that will mesh with Laviolette’s up-tempo offense.

Talbot enters as a penalty killer and checking line player that should help alleviate the loss of Blair Betts and Darroll Powe. Matt Read was spectacular in the pre-season, but can he translate that to a regular season NHl game? Can Simmonds eclipse 20 goals for the first time in his young career? Will Jagr have enough in the tank for the whole season? Can Voracek build off of his decent start and equal his trade value? And when Schenn finally plays on the Flyers, is he for real? Only time will tell, but the potential of our forwards is there. Let’s see if they can put some goals together.

Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky: The Russian Connection
Ilya Bryzgalov, the bajillion dollar man. He comes to the Flyers this season as one of the best goalies they’ve had in years. Will his success in Phoenix continue here in Philadelphia where he has arguably a better team in front of him? What about Bobrovsky? Bobrovsky could vary well be dangled as trade bait until the deadline, or he could be our young backup trying to gain a starting job in the future. I’d rather see the latter, but for once we have a solid goalie and a solid prospect at the same time. Can’t tell you the last time that happened. Let’s see what Bryz can do between the pipes tonight.

The Aging Defense
Chris Pronger, our newly crowned captain, is apparently healthy and ready to go after seeing some action in the pre-season. He returns with Kimmo Timonen, another fellow aging veteran. Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, and Andrej Meszaros return as well as the younger guys with good NHL experience. I do not think Carle and Coburn will both be returning next season, so their play will dictate who stays and who goes. Matt Walker will be starting for the Flyers tonight after clearing waivers, and free-agent signing Andreas Lilja will be the 7th defenseman. Our defense’s success will be predicated on our older guys staying healthy and remaining effective. If they can do that, our defense should be as good if not better than last year. Also, look for Bartulis and Gustafsson to get some playing time this year if there should be any injury or Laviolette feels the need to give these guys a shot.

Flyers are set for a 7 PM puck drop aired nationally on VS. Then they’ll travel to NJ to face the Devils on Saturday night. Get ready for this one, because it’s going to be a wild ride.

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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Season Previews


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New Flyers Performing in Preseason

I’m back and settled into this new semester of school and ready for some Flyers hockey. I’ve gotten the chance to watch a few games on TV and attended one of the home games last week.

With the regular season about a week away, the Flyers have been trying out their new talent during the NHL preseason over the past week or two. New guys like Jaromir Jagr, Ilya Bryzgalov, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and Sean Couturier all have had their fair share of play time so far, while returning players look to work on their expanded role this upcoming season. Here’s a few notes about pre-season so far:

Bobs posted a shutout in his first pre-season start. Granted, our skaters dominated most of that game and kept Toronto’s chances slim, but he still looked good in net and made some timely saves. Bryzgalov has let up his fair share of goals so far but has also made some great saves. None of them have been particularly “soft”. If we can somehow find a way to hang on to Bob as our backup this season with the temptation to trade him, I think our goaltending unit will be more than solid to say the least. Who knows if Leighton will be the backup or be waived/sent down to the Phantoms. I’d rather keep the Russian connection between our pipes.

6th Defenseman
If our newly crowned captain Chris Pronger is available to go on opening night, there will be one spot available on the Flyers blue line. Veteran Andreas Lilja signed this off-season to provide depth, but I think the Flyers will lean to one of their younger players. Walker and Lilja are meant to be scratched every night, and I think Oskars Bartulis or Eric Gustafsson will be filling that role. Bartulis has gotten some playing time over the past two seasons and is well liked by the Flyers organization. Gustafsson’s game is more on the offensive side, with skills in puck control and skating. Both of these guys have done a good job during the pre-season, but I haven’t seen enough to figure out who gets the opening night nod. If Pronger is unavailable, I’m sure Walker or Lilja will be paired with one of these guys for our 3rd pairing. Only time will tell.

New Offensive Faces
Jaromir Jagr has sure shown that he can come back from the NHL so far, netting 3 goals and 2 assists so far. He has shown the ability to take high percentage shots and bury them, and as a plus… he’s been having success on the powerplay. Our powerplay was atrocious last year, and I’ve been hoping Jagr can help revitalize this unit. A line of Jagr and Briere with JVR/Giroux sounds amazing, we will see.

Matt Read has been turning everybody’s heads in camp and pre-season with a tie for the league lead with 6 points. Laviolette has used him in pretty much every facet of the game and it looks like he is a shoe-in for the opening night roster on the 3rd line. I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t make the team.

Wayne Simmonds has potted 3 goals as well and has been getting into the dirty parts of the ice and being the high energy player we hoped to get in the Richards trade. Regardless of what happened with him and Avery, I think he will be a great fit on this team. Max Talbot hasn’t done a whole lot to impress me yet, but I think his role will come into play when the season starts and there’s more stability in the locker room.

The young Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn have also been on the ice this pre-season and I think Schenn has a better chance of making the team at this point. Couturier is still a raw talent that will probably need more time outside of the NHL to develop. Schenn may very well make the team, and has been a big part of our penalty kill while displaying the two-way skill that got him touted as such as high prospect. The salary cap will come into play heavily here, so we will see how that works out.

Zac Rinaldo has also shown that he can be our tough guy with some hockey ability this pre-season, and looks to take Shelley’s spot on the 4th line after Shelley got suspended for his cheap shot against the Leafs last week. My projected lines look something like this:

Rinaldo-Betts-Talbot (Nodl)

I’m not exactly sure how these will pan out, but I know those guys on the first two lines will be there, just not in that order most likely. Voracek has shown some flash and the ability to set up guys, so he might be a natural with Briere. Jagr fits in that category too, so it all depends on where Lavvy wants to put these guys.

With two pre-season games left, small position and roster tweaks will be made in order to get this team ready to watch the Bruins raise their championship banner on opening night next Thursday. I’ll have more on here shortly before the season opener. Let’s see if this Matt Read guy can make the team or not.

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Posted by on September 28, 2011 in Flyers Talk and Other


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Trade(s) Coming This Week?

Ilya Bryzgalov visited Philadelphia last week and created a twitter account, tweeting in both Russian and English with hints of good news coming soon. What does this mean for Flyers fans? Hopefully, it means that Holmgren’s meeting with Bryzgalov and his agent Rich Winter went well, and their plans to get back in touch this week will solidify a contract that both sides will be happy with. With the NHL Draft coming up this Friday, the Flyers are expected to make a splash in the trade market. The cap is expected to go up to between $63 and $64 million, so that helps the Flyers in being able to sign Bryzgalov by making some minor demotions to the NHL and using the waiver wire. However, I still think a trade will be coming, small or large so RFAs Powe and/or Nodl can be re-signed, as well as Ville Leino.

I added a new poll on the right on who you’d rather see traded this off-season. The names haven’t changed, and there won’t be much to analyze or talk about until the Flyers make a move. If a trade is announced, you know that the news of Bryzgalov’s contract shortly follows that news, and vice-versa. As it stands now, the Flyers don’t have a pick in this year’s draft until the 3rd round. But we’ll see what happens. I’ll be back with analysis and updates on anything that goes down. Bryzgalov and Winter should be in talks again with Holmgren tomorrow, so expect progress as early as tomorrow afternoon and as late as Friday. Should be a fun week.


Posted by on June 20, 2011 in Flyers Talk and Other


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Bryzgalov’s Rights: Where to Go From Here?

Yesterday evening twitter feeds and hockey blogs blew up with the news the the Flyers had traded Matt Clackson, a 3rd round pick, and a conditional pick (Holmgren confirmed not a 1st or 2nd) to the Phoenix Coyotes for goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov’s rights in hopes of getting him signed before free agency on July 1st. As Flyers fans, we’ve been speculating since our untimely exit from the playoffs on the Flyers motives for addressing our goaltending issue. This move comes as good news to most Flyers fans who hoped for a goalie to mentor Bob and be ready to win now. But it also comes up as a problem due to our salary cap situation, so how are we going to do this?
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Testing the Waters: Why the Flyers Will (probably) Not Sign Leino or Bryzgalov

Before I begin, keep in mind that I am a Leino fan and would like him to return the Flyers, but not if they overpay him. I’d also love to see Bryzgalov get a shot over here and bring his talents to our team so close to a championship. But with the salary cap and the market, in my opinion there’s a chance they will not be here next year. And here’s why.

Ville Leino will be 28 at the start of next season, and Ilya Bryzgalov will turn 31 by the time free-agency on July 1st rolls around. Why won’t the Flyers sign them? Simply because they both are set up to be paid big in this contract. Three years from now, neither of them will be able to command as much money or as many years as they can now. Ville Leino has been trying to strike the NHL for years, and finally got his shot to show his stuff last year in the playoffs. Ilya Bryzgalov has been the best player on the Coyotes for years now, and he wants to get paid and win some games before he’s too old to do so. It only makes sense that these guys are going to go after bigger contracts with more financial security.

Ville Leino wants to stay in Philadelphia, we all know that. He has good chemistry with his linemates, and he fits in a lot better here than he did in Detroit. But how much will that affect his decision making when he could easy make $3.5 million in another city that has money to splurge? (New York Islanders, Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Unknowns, Florida Panthers, etc.) As I’ve said in previous posts, I want Leino to stay. Quality wingers are in short supply in our franchise, and he is a great forward with some nice moves and strength on the puck. But if he asks for more than $3 million, I expect the Flyers to let him walk. We have to sign JVR next year to a new contract, and if next season is anything like his performance down the stretch this past season, he’s going to deserve a substantial raise.

Ilya Bryzgalov has been rumored to liking Philadelphia as a possible destination for his next job, but at what price? He might be willing to take a smaller salary to play for a contending hockey club, but I can’t see him willing to get too underpaid on what should be his last big pay day. If the Flyers do want to sign him, it would be upwards of $5-$6 million. They have to trade some salary away (Versteeg, Carle, maybe Carter, etc.) in order to be salary cap compliant for the year, and they arguably still have a void or two to fill on defense or forward.

July 1st is about a month away, and it will be very hard to figure out what Holmgren will do. He always seems to get creative around this time, maybe he can trade Leino’s rights at the draft if they can’t reach an agreement with him? Will they trade one of their core forwards? It’s going to be a very exciting early July this year, I hope we get what we need… as long as the price is right.


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