Ilya Bryzgalov

Laviolette says Bryzgalov “looks very much in charge of his net right now”


Is Ilya Bryzgalov finally rounding into form?

That’s something being asked after the Flyers goalie recorded what CSN Philadelphia dubbed “an encouraging Western swing.”

Bryzgalov has started Philadelphia’s last five games — in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and San Jose, then home against the Islanders — and was mostly solid, posting three wins and two sterling efforts against the Oilers and Sharks.

“He looks very much in charge of his net right now,” coach Peter Laviolette said.

To be fair, Bryzgalov’s numbers don’t indicate any significant change. His save percentage over the last five is a pedestrian .887, thanks in large part to allowing four goals on 21 shots in Calgary and four on 26 against Winnipeg.

But numbers don’t tell the entire story — Bryz made four huge stops in the shootout against the Flames and several key stops against the Isles on Thursday, which CSN Philly’s Jay Greenberg described thusly:

The Flyers, in their first home game after a four-game trip, came out flatter than the $51 million man has spent his first five months in Philadelphia on his face. Still, they beat the Islanders 6-3 because Bryzgalov brought the old, Phoenix Bryzgalov home with him from an encouraging Western swing.

He got beat on a rebound after stopping [Josh] Bailey point-blank, by Bailey on a cross-ice feed to an empty net and by a one-time bazooka by Kyle Okposo from about six feet. Some idiots booed the last one, but you can’t play much better in surrendering three goals than Bryzgalov did.

Bryzgalov isn’t prepared to say he’s found his groove — he told reporters, “I don’t want to talk about it” after the Isles game before acknowledging, “I feel good” and then walking away — but it’s clear he’s in a much better space. The Flyers are rolling six veteran defensemen deep on the blueline (gone are the likes of rookies Marc-Andre Bourdon and Eric Gustafsson) and Bryz seems to be over what was a lengthy adjustment period.

Derek Roy signs in Swiss league

Derek Roy, Jeremy Smith, Chris Kelly
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Derek Roy has finally found work — but it’s not in the NHL.

Roy, who spent the entire preseason in Washington’s camp on a PTO, has signed with SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Friday.

The news comes after Roy narrowly missed out on making the Caps roster, and just one year after he had something of a bounce-back campaign in Edmonton, scoring 22 points in 46 games while developing chemistry with young winger Nail Yakupov.

A 12-year NHL veteran, Roy is one of the more prominent names to be squeezed out of work this season, and head overseas. The 31-year-old has scored over 500 points in 738 career contests, and has twice represented Canada at the World Hockey Championships.

With Bern, Roy will play on one of Switzerland’s stronger teams, alongside a trio of ex-NHLers: Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ebbett and Cory Conacher.

Lehner’s injury ‘doesn’t look like it’s short term’

Robin Lehner
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Robin Lehner might not be back anytime soon.

Making his debut with the Buffalo Sabres, the 24-year-old goaltender couldn’t complete Thursday’s game against his former squad, the Ottawa Senators, due to what has now been revealed to be a right leg injury.

When he left the arena, he was wearing a walking boot on that nearly went up to his knee.

“It doesn’t look like it’s short term,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told the Buffalo News. “It’s more than day-to-day at this point, but we need to evaluate further.”

It’s a rocky start to what’s an important campaign for Lehner. He has been given an opportunity to demonstrate that he’s ready to be a starting goaltender after being acquired by the Sabres over the summer, but it looks like that will have to be postponed.

While he’s sidelined, Chad Johnson is likely to be leaned on heavily.