Ilya Bryzgalov

Bryzgalov: More scared of bears in forest than Penguins from Pittsburgh


In October, Ilya Bryzgalov provided one of the season’s best soundbites when, in trying to explain his poor play, he said he was “lost in the woods.”

Now — just prior to the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs — Bryz is at it again with references to the outdoors. On Monday, one intrepid reporter asked the Flyers goalie for his take on Philly’s opening round opponent, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Here’s how that went:

Reporter: What’s the biggest threat that the Penguins have?

Bryzgalov: You know, I’m not afraid of anything. I’m afraid of bears — bears in the forest.

And here’s the video:

While this quote isn’t a big deal — what was Bryz going to say, that he’s terrified of the Pens? — you have to wonder if some within the Flyers organization aren’t awkwardly pulling at their collars right now.

Bryzgalov’s best stretch of play this year coincided with him focusing on hockey and avoiding the Yakov Smirnoff routine (conversely, his worst stretch coincided with trying out monologue material with reporters.)

There’s also the notion that the bigger the stage, the more Bryzgalov is likely to put his foot in his mouth. We saw evidence of this at the 2012 Winter Classic, when he let the cat out of the bag that Sergei Bobrovsky would be getting the start in goal (an attempt to be funny that, reportedly, infuriated head coach Peter Laviolette.)

While it’s probably too soon for Philly to start thinking about re-instituting the gag order, one wonders if this might be the last Bryzgalov quip we get this postseason.

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.