Ilya Bryzgalov, Nathan Horton

Should Bobrovsky get the Winter Classic start over Bryzgalov?

7 Comments

Take the Philadelphia media, add the spectacle of the Winter Classic, and mix in a potential goaltending controversy. Talk about a recipe for some high-profile speculation.

This time, it’s the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi that is wondering aloud about the Flyers’ growing dilemma between the pipes. He points out that Sergei Bobrovsky has been a dominant netminder over his last eight appearances—and he’s right. Over the same small sample size, the high-paid, high-profile Ilya Bryzgalov has been, shall we say, “less dominant.”

So what is Peter Laviolette to do with the Winter Classic on the horizon? Should he ride the hot hand going into an important divisional game against the New York Rangers? Or should he put in the well compensated goaltender who will be Philadelphia for the better part of the next decade? Funny how a nine-year contract can make decisions a little more complicated.

Carchidi goes on to say that benching the struggling Bryzgalov would “risk diluting Bryzgalov’s already-low confidence level.” Is that reason enough to put faith in Bryzgalov when the sport’s brightest regular season spotlight is shining on the team on Monday?

No one has ever said that playing between the pipes in Philadelphia is an easy job. Former Flyers’ (and Rangers’) netminder John Vanbiesbrouck has been through the grinder in some of the biggest hockey markets and explains how difficult the mental side of the game can be for a goaltender.

“Nobody knows what’s going on in another person’s insides.” Vanbiesbrouck told CSNPhilly.com. “I didn’t even know [Bryzgalov] was struggling until you just asked me about this. But the pressure he is putting on himself to not only perform but to analyze his performance, he is going to be his own worst enemy for a while. And he’s got to go through it until he realizes he is not here to impress everybody during practice, in the press and in management, trying to be Superman.”

Or Master of the Universe in Bryzgalov’s case.

Laviolette had an opportunity to squash any speculation after the Flyers’ 4-2 victory on Thursday night. Instead, he chose to sidestep the question and we’ll have a few days of speculation while the Flyers try to figure out who will get the nod in net.

In the spirit of playing armchair GM/coach, who do you think should get the start in the Winter Classic? Has the surging Bobrovsky earned the start or is it more important to the Flyers’ long-term success this season to put Bryzgalov in net? The comment section awaits…

Backes scores OT goal on his birthday, Blues even up series with Stars

1 Comment

The St. Louis Blues won’t be thrilled with the way they played in the third period, but in the end, they did just enough to come away with a 4-3 overtime win over the Dallas Stars in Game 2. The Blues’ win means that the series will head to St. Louis tied 1-1.

The Stars opened the scoring in the first period, but the Blues responded by scoring three unanswered goals (Patrik Berglund, Joel Edmundson, Troy Brouwer) on five shots. Stars coach Lindy Ruff had seen enough from starter Kari Lehtonen at that point. He yanked Lehtonen in favor of Antti Niemi at the start of the second period.

Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the second period, but things got crazy in the third.

With his team still trailing 3-1, Mattias Janmark split Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko before scoring a great goal.

Moments after Janmark’s goal, Brian Elliott took a Jason Spezza blast off the mask. Elliott was shaken up on the play (he even lost one of his contact lenses), but he did stay in the game.

Stars captain Jamie Benn (surprise, surprise) leveled the score by burying a goal by Brian Elliott with under three minutes in regulation.

Like they did during their first round series against Chicago, the Blues took some time to regroup before finding a way to get the job done.

The Blues’ power play went back to work after Antoine Roussel took his third penalty of the game. That’s when the birthday boy, David Backes, came through.

That’s a nice way to celebrate your 32nd birthday.

Game 3 goes Tuesday night in St. Louis.

 

Jamie Benn’s late goal sends Game 2 to overtime

2 Comments

This definitely wasn’t the way the St. Louis Blues drew it up.

The Blues entered the third period of Game 2 with a 3-1 lead. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t able to shut the game down on the road.

St. Louis jumped ahead 3-1 after 20 minutes before Dallas decided to pull Kari Lehtonen in favor of Antti Niemi. The move didn’t provide any results in the middle frame, but something certainly sparked the Stars in the third period.

Mattias Janmark cut the deficit to 3-2 with this beauty (notice how he split Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo).

With less than three minutes remaining in regulation, Stars captain Jamie Benn tied it up (top).

It’s safe to say this wasn’t a memorable third period for the Blues.

Video: Brian Elliott takes a blast off the mask, stays in the game

Leave a comment

A bit of a scary moment in the third period of Game 2 between the Stars and Blues.

Less than five minutes into the third period, Jason Spezza took a shot that caught Blues goalie Brian Elliott square in the mask. Play was halted as Elliott remained down. It appears as though the shot to the mask also made Elliott lose one of his contacts.

Thankfully, Elliott wasn’t seriously injured on the play. After being examined by the team doctor, he was allowed to stay into the game. He did need a new mask though (he got his original one back a few minutes later).

You can watch the play by clicking the video at the top of the page.

The Blues currently lead 3-2 late in the third period.

Here’s some Twitter reaction:

 

Lehtonen only lasts one period in Game 2

Lehtonen
2 Comments

Kari Lehtonen might have been more hit than miss in the playoffs going into today’s action, but Game 2 against St. Louis was certainly a start he’d like to forget.

Dallas outshot St. Louis 10-5 in the first frame, but the Blues still managed to take a 3-1 lead. Antti Niemi replaced Lehtonen for the second period which means, barring another goalie change, Lehtonen will actually end up with a sub-.500 save percentage this afternoon.

The numbers obviously look bad and it’s hard not to blame Lehtonen in the face of that, but the Blues deserve a lot of the credit for those goals. Patrik Berglund had a great shot on goal for the first marker, Joel Edmundson‘s first career playoff goal came after a nice setup by Troy Brouwer, and when Brouwer collected his own goal it was off of a rebound during a power play.

So to an extent, you could say Lehtonen looked bad due to circumstances that were very unfavorable to him. Nevertheless, the Stars needed to shake things up after what was unquestionably a bad period for them.