Since the first day of the season, all eyes in Philadelphia have been on newly acquired netminder Ilya Bryzgalov. The organization that has been missing one thing over the last decade had finally ponied up some serious cash to address their annual problem between the pipes. The nine-year contract was supposed to mean that the Flyers weren’t going to have to worry about their goaltending situation until 2021.
Fans in Philly came up a little short. Instead of waiting nine years, they waited about two weeks to worry about Bryzgalov. Just a bit short.
Today, legendary Flyers goaltender Bernie Parent came to the aid of the $51 million man. As most people in hockey, he preached patience as the team is only a third of the way through their season. “The more you believe in them, the more they believe in you and then you grow as a team, very, very important.” Parent said. “The Stanley Cup is not won in the first 20 games. You win the Stanley Cup after 82 games and then the playoffs. It’s a gradual improvement.”
Telling fans in Philadelphia to be patient—let us know how that one goes.
Parent went on to say that it takes time for a goaltender to get used to his defensemen, the big contract has nothing to do with his inconsistency, and people shouldn’t focus on his good play instead of looking at any bad goals he allows. Most importantly, the former goaltender talked about the mental challenges that Bryzgalov could be dealing with as he tries to find his way: “It’s like a pitcher, psychologically… You have to be very careful of your players, especially, a goalie. I think [Laviolette] handles him real well. It’s a matter of confidence. The more games you play, you understand your team.”
Just a bit of advice: if Bryzgalov wants to earn a little patience from fans, he might want to start improving on his numbers this season. The 11-5-2 record looks good enough, but the 2.89 goals against average and sub-.900 save percentage aren’t going to buy him any time from the fans.
Get set for the Heritage Classic with hot dog facts and more
The Winnipeg Jets host the Edmonton Oilers at the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field this afternoon. You can watch it on NHL Network, Sportsnet, TVA Sports 2 or NHL.tv at 3 p.m. ET.
With that in mind, let’s get prepped with super-important stats about unhealthy food, interesting photos and fun facts.
Want to get an in-depth look at the rivalry between the Jets and the Oilers? NHL.com and Sportsnet both have some great retrospectives.
The CBC notes that there was rain ending in the morning but it’s expected to be cloudy. Overall, sounds like a nice climate for an outdoor hockey game. NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika wonders if the sun’s glare might cause some issues.
The Arizona Coyotes received (mostly) good news on Sunday: Mike Smith‘s injury isn’t believed to be “severe,” even if he’s considered week-to-week, according to reporters including TSN’s Darren Dreger.
While Louis Domingue and Justin Peters isn’t the sort of goalie duo that will make shooters think twice about firing the puck, they’re both at least fairly experienced netminders.
(Considering Smith’s struggles with injuries and inconsistency, it’s not surprising that Arizona invested in a little insurance in Peters.)
Domingue is slated to start in net for the Coyotes against the New York Rangers on Sunday. It’s been a bumpy start for him so far, but Arizona has at least a theoretical advantage in that the Rangers played on Saturday.
As far as when Smith will be back? Well here’s a slight idea.
Dave Tippett does not think Mike Smith will be ready for home game vs. Colorado on Oct. 29, but he is not far from getting back on the ice.
Chances are, plenty of hockey fans – and maybe some members of the Colorado Avalanche – were uttering that question after Saturday night.
Well, we know this about Shane Harper: he scored his first two NHL goals at age 27, helping the Florida Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.
You can watch both of Harper’s goals in the recap video:
Harper also drew enough ire from the Avalanche to get into a bit of a skirmish following a hit.
So, who is Shane Harper?
For one thing, he’s from Valencia, California and did not go drafted.
His best junior season came in 2009-10, when he scored 42 goals and 80 points for the Everett Silvertips. He’s become quite the seasoned AHL veteran since then, and while his numbers won’t wow you, he did do enough in 2014-15 to maybe turn a head or two. Harper scored 32 goals and 50 points for the Chicago Wolves that season.
You can tell his teammates were happy for him – gentle ribbing and all – when the media asked about his career milestone: