Ilya Bryzgalov

Flyers GM on Bryzgalov: “He has to get better”


From an entertainment standpoint, Ilya Bryzgalov’s recent performances have been very good.

But from a hockey standpoint? Not so much, says Paul Holmgren. The Flyers GM spoke candidly about his goaltender’s struggles today with CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio.

“He has to get better, for sure,” he said during Flyers practice.“He obviously has to play better. Ilya knows the same thing.”

It’s not surprising that Holmgren — the man behind the nine-year, $51 million deal that brought Bryzgalov to Philly — is getting a little antsy. He’s seen flashes of the Vezina-nominated backstopper that often carried the Phoenix Coyotes, but none of the consistency. Last season, Bryzgalov posted a 2.29 GAA and .921 save percentage; this season, those are up (and down) to 3.01 and .890.

There are plenty of theories as to why Bryzgalov’s struggled — new city, different surroundings, change in system — but one that’s getting play lately is the “too much offense” theory. Philly is the NHL’s third-highest scoring team and doesn’t give up many shots on goal, so the thought is Bryzgalov’s focus wanes because he’s not being peppered with pucks and forced to steal games.

It’s something Panaccio asked Holmgren about.

“There’s something here with a new team, a new group of teammates, a different style here,” Holmgren said. “He certainly doesn’t get as many shots. Last night [a 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay], I don’t know what the scoring chances were, but I don’t think they had that many scoring chances. In the end they got five goals.”

As for Bryz…he’s not ‘lost in the woods’ this time, but he’s not exactly rife with answers, either.

“Hoping the bounces start turning my way and not against us, because every game we have two goals and bad bounces,” he said. “Some day it has to stop probably. And I have a better game.”

Welcome back, Babs: Red Wings chase Bernier

Mike Babcock
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Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.

As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.

The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.

This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.

Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.

Blue Jackets’ Wennberg done for night with upper-body injury

Alexander Wennberg, Jay Bouwmeester
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It wouldn’t be a regular season game without a Columbus Blue Jackets injury, right?

OK, the Blue Jackets hope that 2015-16 looks different from the medically challenged mess of last season, but at least one player is banged up tonight.

Alexander Wennberg suffered an upper-body injury and won’t return on Friday, as the team noted.

There’s no word yet regarding how serious the issue might be. It looks like he might have suffered an injury thanks to a Chris Kreider check:

Naturally, the Blue Jackets must hope that this doesn’t begin another trend.