Sergei Bobrovsky

Yes, Sergei Bobrovsky is starting


After Ilya Bryzgalov let the cat out of the bag that he wouldn’t be starting the Winter Classic and Peter Laviolette wouldn’t tip his own hand, the truth is out.

Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start in today’s Winter Classic against the Rangers and for the Flyers it’s virtually a no-brainer choice given what’s been going on lately in goal. Bobrovsky has been lights out in his last few starts putting up monster numbers while Bryzgalov has been miserable with a goals against average higher than a middle reliever’s ERA in baseball.

That’s isn’t going to get it done and with such an important divisional game against the Rangers, they need the two points. As it was, Flyers players were supportive of the move to start Bobrovsky as Kimmo Timonen told’s Adam Kimelman.

“You reward the players who play well, work hard,” added defenseman Kimmo Timonen. “It doesn’t matter. If it’s Winter Classic or whatever, it doesn’t matter. It’s fair for everybody. The way he played in Pittsburgh, I think he was calm and he played with confidence. As a player, you can tell when your goalie has that confidence and he has that right now. Hopefully he can keep it up because it makes our life easier when the goalie plays well.”

A common sense move shouldn’t generate this much controversy but with Bryzgalov becoming the star of HBO’s 24/7, his profile is higher than ever. Bobrovsky will be out to prove that Laviolette didn’t make the wrong decision.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.