Hot Flyers host Habs

The Canadiens, who have picked up points in eight of their 11 games so far this month (5-3-3, 13 of a possible 22), fly into Philadelphia for their Saturday night game. They’ll take on a Flyers team that has gotten points in 10 of 12 games this month (9-2-1, 19 of a possible 24) and is 6-1 in their last seven home games. With the Rangers stumbling a bit, both the Flyers and hard-charging Penguins are finishing the season strongly, getting ready to make some playoff noise, if not catch New York for the conference lead.

The biggest turnaround for the Flyers has come from the play of Ilya Bryzgalov, the much-maligned goalie whose quirky observations made him a star on HBO early in the season while Philly fans and his teammates were not amused by his problems stopping pucks. Considered the answer to the Flyers’ chronic need for a decent goalie when signed a huge contract last summer, Bryzgalov slumped to an .895 save percentage through January, landing him in the Philly doghouse.

But so far this month, he’s gone 9-1-1 with a 1.24 goals against average and an incredible .956 save percentage with four shutouts.

“”I think there’s a tremendous amount of confidence in our goaltender,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “And when you have confidence, when your goaltender gives you that confidence, you feel like you can score goals, like you can take a few more chances.”

His most recent outing was Thursday, a 2-1 shootout win over the Caps in which Bryzgalov was named first star of the game for the sixth time this month.

His only weakness seems to be giving up the first goal of the game. The Flyers have fallen behind 1-0 15 times in their last 20 games, and fell behind 2-0 three games in a row last week. On Thursday, they fell behind again when Bryzgalov gave up a goal on the first Caps’ shot. That led Jaromir Jagr to suggest with a sly grin that backup goalie Sergei Bobrovski start all the Flyers games, just stop the first shot and then turn it over to Bryzgalov. When you’re winning, it’s easy to have fun.

Actually, Bryzgalov has had to be good because the Flyers haven’t been scoring much of late. They only scored more than three goals twice this month and some key performers like Jagr and Danny Briere haven’t been scoring. Jagr has only two goals and four assists in the last month, a run of 15 games, while Briere has only one goal and five assists in the same period. Wayne Simmonds has no goals and three assists in those 15 games; he’s stuck on 22 goals. Max Talbot, who hit his career high 17th goal 15 games ago, has only scored once since.

Of course, Talbot contributes in other ways and he’ll be out there checking the Cole-Desharnais-Pacioretty line along with Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek.

Others are doing their best to pick up the offensive slack. Jagr’s centre Claude Giroux continues to be one of the NHL’s top scorers, now 27-58-85 on the season, a point ahead of Steven Stamkos as runner-up to Evgeni Malkin’s 95 points in the Art Ross Trophy race. Giroux has had 25 points in his last 18 games. And Scott Harnell, who’s having a career year, has eight goals in the last 14 games.

The Flyers good play is all the more impressive considering their defence corps has played through some key injuries. Of course, they’ve been without Chris Pronger for most of the year and he won’t be back. Kimmo Timonen, who has taken over much of Pronger’s duties as the top guy, missed five games with a bad back earlier this month. Pavel Kubina, who came from Tampa Bay before the trade deadline to be a big shot from the point, came back earlier this week after missing eight games with an upper body injury. Andrej Meszaros has missed most of the month with a back injury and has just had surgery which will keep him out for a while.

But they’ve gotten good work from trade deadline pickup Nick Grossmann, as well as Flyer vets Brayden Coburn and Matt Carle, while Andreas Lilja, who was a healthy scratch for a good part of the season after dealing with an ankle injury, has come in and done fine.

Here’s how the Flyers should line up on Saturday

Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux, Jaromir Jagr
Danny Briere, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds
Max Talbot, Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek
Eric Wellwood, Matt Read, Zac Rinaldo

Nick Grossmann, Braydon Coburn
Matt Carle, Kimmo Timonen
Pavel Kubina, Andreas Lilja

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky


  1. alwayssunny says:

    Opportunity to jump two teams and catch Tampa tonight. That could also put us in a position to catch anaheim, toronto and carolina the next game. Still time for a respectable finish. Still 14 points out there and I hope we get all of them. Just play your hearts out and reach for the stars boys.

  2. jon514 says:

    @Stu Hackel:
    Really enjoyed the article, but the first line requires an edit, because 5 wins and 3 OT losses = points in EIGHT of their last eleven, not SEVEN.

    “Let’s be clear on the facts…”

  3. durocher says:

    I’ll go on record supporting the idea of having Roy behind the bench. He’s won the memorial cup, and has an outstanding coaching record in the Q, so he’s not without relevant coaching experience. He hasn’t coached in the A or NHL, but I think his inexperience in that regard can be supplemented by having assistants with robust professional coaching experience (Hartley? Robinson?).

    Further, I am convinced by the La Presse article that Roy brings energy and enthusiasm (a la Demers and Burns) which we have lacked in recent years (Gainey, Martin, RC). That passion can translate into an excited and energized team.

    Yes, Roy is volatile. He is a risk. But it’s one I’d like to take, particularly given our recent (failed) experiment with hugely experienced, overly calm coaches.

    I do not support the idea of giving Roy GM duties, because his impulsiveness could be especially harmful in that role. I should also point out that even someone seemingly rational and calm as PG has made some very impulse and stupid moves this year, with the firings and trades.

  4. 69HABS says:

    @ LA Loyalist

    Price beat the Broons in his very first playoff series.

    Loose the Hate for Carey!

  5. durocher says:

    One player I’d love to see in a Habs sweater — van Riemsdyk. He’s young, big, strong, and he reminds me of (and is friends with) Pacioretty. He’s had problems staying healthy (concussion and he got injured blocking a shot). The Flyers ability to play well without him suggests he’s expendable. In our (reluctant and late) move to get bigger and stronger, JVR would fit in well with this changing approach.

    Another person from Philly who I’d like to see play for us — M.A. Bourdon. He’s tough, young, and would be a fine addition to our bottom pairing. Philly’s rolling along without him, again suggesting that Bourdon may be expendable for the Flyers.

  6. habs17 says:

    Nothing better then meaningless games in March.

    I SUPPORT (every1 knows who i support)

  7. WindsorHab-10 says:

    A question for everyone: Is Brad Staubiltz a keeper?

    I say hell yes because our team plays with much more confidence. Your thoughts please.

    • Mr. Biter says:

      As posted below 8 wins 4 loses since Staubitz picked up. Definate keeper and will also not cost us much money (in hockey $$$$).

      Mr. Biter
      No Guts No Glory

      • HabFanSince72 says:

        Actually it’s 8 wins and 4 losses since the knowledge we were not going to make the playoffs.

        Many poor teams play better at this stage of the season. The Leafs make a habit of it.

        Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

    • theox_8 says:

      for sure staubitz is a keeper.

    • caper_5 says:

      Reminds me so much of Nilan

      • habstrinifan says:

        Great comparison. In oder I would keep Staubitz, Blunden, White. Would love all THREE but if you gotta do lose one to improve elsewhere. ok WAIT… maybe White Staubitz Blunden. Hard but definitely Staubitz and I like White but Blunden is bigger and more all-round a player … but not as consistently fiesy. OK OK White and Staubitz then Blunden.

      • jon514 says:

        What? Nilan put up 30pts/season…

        “Let’s be clear on the facts…”

    • durocher says:

      Yep — he helps give us a legitimate fourth line. Staubitz, White, Moen/Blunden is a fine fourth line and a vast improvement (no disrespect) over Nokia, Darche, Palushaj, Weber and the other small guys we’ve had on the fourth line.

    • Phil C says:

      Definitely yes to keeping Staubitz. I am not a supporter of fighting in hockey, but as long as its a part of the NHL rules, the Habs must be able to answer when goons like Neil and Lucic start harassing the Habs’ stars. A championship-calibre team should be able to adapt to any style of play. I also think that it builds good team spirit when players actively defend each other like they did last night with Ottawa. Although I would prefer it if Staubitz had some more offensive upside.

      Ideally it would be nice to have a big defensemen who can also drop the gloves when required, like Robinson back in the day. Tinordi fits the mold, so let’s hope he continues to develop.

  8. 69HABS says:

    All this talk about these “Hot” goalies. Let them play for Montreal this season!

    • Trackpants says:

      Speaking of Price, how much do you think it is going to cost to keep that guy around after next year?


      • 69HABS says:

        I’d say Carey will sign for 2 yrs @ 5.5 mil per

        • Trackpants says:

          I sure hope so, or for longer… if Grabo is worth over 5 million a year I gotta think Price will be asking closer to 6 plus million… lets face it there is only one reason we are only -11 when compared to 14th @ -44 >> 13th@-44 >> the leafs @-21 and 11th @-25.

          And heres a hint, it isn’t our blueline shutting down the opponent.


  9. Mr. Biter says:

    Since we a picked up Staubitz at the trade deadline we are 8 wins and 4 losses. Hmmmmm. Any relation to have someone around to protect our goalie or skill players ( as I’ve wanted for the last 2 years).
    BTW was listening to Jets radio interviewing beat writer for Preds. Was asked about AK and replied started hot but now playing like he did with the Habs. Good game then gone next game.

    Mr. Biter
    No Guts No Glory

    • Habfan10912 says:

      Not surprised about AK. He is what we saw he was for years. Not going to change. But, we’ll all hear about it when he has those ” few good games”, huh?

  10. jon514 says:

    5-3-3 … 5 + 3 is 8. Points in eight of their last 11 games.

    “Let’s be clear on the facts…”

  11. boing007 says:

    Hoping that Bryz goes on the fritz. Love it when Flyers fans boo their team.

    Richard R

  12. alwayssunny says:

    I’m no Flyers fan but I’m actually glad to see Bryzgalov turning it around. Not sure I have ever seen an athlete openly display less confidence in himself as he did earlier this year. I actually felt sorry for the guy. Well as sorry as I can be for a guy who just signed a 60 million dollar contract or whatever it was.

  13. HardHabits says:

    @Stu Hackel: Excellent break down of the Flyers ups and downs this season, and weaknesses and strengths in their line up. I have a lot of admiration for the way the Flyers have built their franchise. They are also missing Van Riemsdyk.

    Imagine if they had a healthy Pronger.

    • theox_8 says:

      yeah they havent missed a beat at all since trading their two franchise players and getting younger almost better players in return , still loaded with potential .Throw in the signing of jagr and wow, I can’t believe im saying this but I always have liked their pace and style of game.

    • Stu Hackel says:

      Thanks HH – Yep. JVR has been a big loss. Blair Betts, too, who is a very good defensive forward. They’ve had a bad season w/injuries but survived. They don’t get the credit the Penguins do for surviving w/o Crosby, in part because they weren’t winning until recently. They have to hope that Bryzgalov keeps going and this isn’t just a streak he’ll leave behind when the playoffs start, like Flyers goalies have always done. If he keeps it up, they could do some damage.

  14. punkster says:

    Mr. Hackel, good article on the lamentable officiating (the other page) and another nice peak at today’s opponent here.

    And the Olympics..great find…I see they did a version of “Good Lovin” before The Rascals.

    ***Subbang Baby!!!***

  15. AliHaba says:

    I had to chuckle at the TSN story about the Loafs needing a win tonight to keep their play-off hopes alive. That website is so delusional. Won’t be surprising if we hear the “Fire Burke” chants from the ACC fans tonight. Personally I hope he doesn’t get fired as it guarantees more suckitude from the center of the hockey universe (tongue in cheek) for as long as he’s running the show.

  16. FanCritic says:

    Habs will be in tough tonight against Philly. after our 1st line we can’t match Philly, but you never know with this team. anything is possible they proved it last night

    • habstrinifan says:

      Simmonds is the kind of player we should strive to get to add to our top 2 lines. Not considered a superstar like Carter or Richards were but can make a team bigerthan the sum of its parts. Not easy to identify this type player as that are not front and centre when ‘get this guy’ talks begin.

  17. HabFanSince72 says:

    The Flyers sure did well out of trading Carter and Richards.

    Simmonds has more goals and points than Richards, isn’t a locker room cancer, and they also got Schenn and a pick in the deal.

    Couturier will be a great one too.

    If only we’d gotten something out of our underachieving 2003 first rounder.

    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

    • AliHaba says:

      Don’t forget Voracek.

      • HabFanSince72 says:


        On the other hand I see LA are moving rapidly up the standings, thanks in part to Jeff Carter.

        Could they be a dark horse in the playoffs?

        Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

        • AliHaba says:

          If Quick is hot they have a real good shot at it. They have some of every element needed to be successful. And certainly if Bettman has anything to do with it (and unfortunately he does), they will be given every opportunity to succeed. A Rangers/Kings final would be the ultimate for the NHL brain thrust.

        • naweed235 says:

          I hope so… They are my team after the Habs…
          But this year it’s gonna be between the Pens, The Preds and the the Blues…
          Out of all those teams, I like St-Louis’ chances the most… We all know
          what a “money Goalie” can do for a team and they probably have the best playoff performer on that team

  18. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …Freddy St-Denis ‘recalled’ from Hamilton

    HIS’ Official Habs’ Fan Theme Song: Morrissey ‘There is a light that never goes out’

    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY

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