In case you have foggy memories (or your memory is getting foggier on Fat Tuesday), Ilya Bryzgalov shuddered at the thought of Phoenix’s possible move to Winnipeg. Most infamously, the Russian netminder complained of the market’s lack of parks, which presumably would be a bummer for his hot chick-like dog.
With that in mind, this was the first real time for Winnipeg Jets fans to troll away. And yes, they serenaded him with plenty of “Illyyyyaaaaa” chants, but he (sort of) got the last laugh because the Flyers beat the Jets 5-4 in overtime.
That’s not to say that Bryzgalov was exactly lights out as he allowed those four goals on just 26 shots, but the W can heal a lot of wounds.
The bright side for the Jets is that the Toronto Maple Leafs were unable to fatten their lead for eight place in the East as the New Jersey Devils edged them in OT too by a score of 4-3. Winnipeg is off to a nice start with their eight-game homestand as they’re now 2-0-1. Here is a look a the rest of their home-heavy next 10 games:
Thursday: vs. Tampa Bay
Saturday: vs. St. Louis
Feb. 27: vs. Edmonton
March 1: vs. Florida
March 5: vs. Buffalo
March 8: at Vancouver
March 9: at Calgary
March 14: vs. Dallas
March 16: vs. Washington
March 18: vs. Carolina
There are some genuine challenges in that set (particularly that tough back-to-back duo on the road), but the Jets could make up some serious ground on the Leafs and the Southeast Division in that time.
Even with that win, the Flyers merely stood in place in the East’s playoff midsection. The Pittsburgh Penguins blanked the New York Rangers 2-0 while the aforementioned Devils beat the Leafs so Philly remains in fifth.
Placement probably doesn’t matter a ton to Philadelphia since its road record (19-9-2) is actually better than what they’ve done at home (14-10-5).
In fact, Philly might just be better of taking the sixth spot – which would get that much more intriguing if the Jets ended up being the Flyers’ first round hosts.
Talk about perfect timing.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored his first goal of the season on Tuesday, doing so in overtime to lift the San Jose Sharks past the goaltending of John Gibson in a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
Facing off against their California rivals for the first time this season, the Sharks dominated puck possession and on the shot clock. Had it not been for the play of Gibson, this one could’ve been a lopsided win for San Jose.
Gibson replaced Jonathan Bernier to begin the second period. Bernier left the game with an upper-body injury.
In relief, Gibson made 24 saves on 25 shots. Vlasic was the only San Jose player to get the puck past him, but not before the Ducks managed to steal a single point.
The Ducks recorded the single point, but did so faced with a short-handed lineup as the game continued. Not only did Bernier leave the game, but so, too, did Ryan Getzlaf, who didn’t play a shift in the third period.
He left with an upper-body injury, as per the Ducks, who at the time listed his return as questionable.
So, it seems Jake Allen was onto something.
The St. Louis Blues goalie noted a few days ago that Calgary Flames fans shouldn’t be worried about Brian Elliott despite his early-season struggles.
Well, Elliott has since put together strong performances in back-to-back games against Central Division opponents from Chicago and then St. Louis.
After earning a shootout win over the Blackhawks on Monday, Elliott was put back in the Calgary net to finish off the back-to-back road set.
Facing his former team, Elliott made 23 saves on 24 shots and the Flames recorded a 4-1 victory. It was a special return to St. Louis for Elliott, who spent five seasons with the Blues.
“I saw that on the schedule from a while ago in the summer,” Elliott told NHL.com. “You want to come back here. I had so much fun playing in front of these fans in this building and wanted to do it again even though it was another team. The guys did a heck of a job in front of me to get that win for me.”
Not a bad trip for the Flames, with a maximum four points against two teams considered to be contenders in the Western Conference.
“I thought we were good in front of him, too,” Flames coach Glen Gulutzan told the Calgary Herald. “I thought we kept a lot of the stuff to the outside, but he made some big saves, especially at the end, when we knew their push was coming.
“I thought that was when he was his best. And that’s what you need — we put ourselves in position to win and then he carried us through.”
Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson began Tuesday’s game on the bench, but was forced into action to begin the second period against the San Jose Sharks.
Jonathan Bernier, who got the start, left the game with an upper-body injury and was doubtful to return, the Ducks stated on Twitter.
Bernier has played in only one other game for Anaheim so far, making 42 saves on 45 shots in a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 15.
Frederik Andersen‘s difficult start to the season continues.
After an interesting exchange when questioned about his goaltender prior to Tuesday’s game against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning and some guy named Steven Stamkos, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock was once again forced to answer inquiries about the play of Andersen, who allowed seven goals on just 24 shots.
Andersen stayed in the crease for the entire game, as the Leafs lost 7-3. He certainly didn’t get much help in the defensive end from his teammates in front of him.
Stamkos started the scoring for Tampa Bay, and continued it with a rocket one-timer past Andersen, before finishing with a four-point night.
But in Toronto, the conversation about the amazing play of rookies like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner seems to have shifted to the play of their goalie, acquired in a blockbuster deal with Anaheim, in which Toronto parted ways with a first- and second-round pick to make it happen. The Leafs then signed him to a five-year, $25 million deal.
Playing on a new team in a hockey-crazed market has likely been an adjustment. His season also started with an injury in Olympic qualifying.
Following the loss Tuesday, Babcock explained his reasoning for leaving Andersen in net for all seven Tampa Bay goals, two of which came late in the third period.
“I want him to play. He’s my guy. I want him to play,” said Babcock, as per Jonas Siegel of The Canadian Press. “So I could pull him and then say, ‘Okay I showed you!’ But what did I show him? To me, dig in there with the rest of the guys, make the next save and give us a chance to come back and win the game. You can’t do that sitting on the bench.”
The Maple Leafs face the Florida Panthers on Thursday. Florida’s goalie Roberto Luongo knows all-too-well about the pressures that come with playing the position in a Canadian market.
It is early in Andersen’s Toronto tenure.
But Babcock will likely be facing a similar line of questioning until his goalie turns it around.