Roberto Luongo

Five Flyers goalie options, post-Bryzgalov (Updated)


You all know the news by now — the Philadelphia Flyers will use a compliance buyout on goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

It could be that management already has a plan in place to address the starting goaltending for next season, so don’t be surprised if there’s more to this story soon.

But here are five potential options, for discussion’s sake:

Roberto Luongo

Another big contract with lots of years left, but the Flyers have the pockets to take it on, and let’s be honest, they aren’t exactly risk averse. Luongo’s cap hit is $5.3 million, which could be problematic. But let’s say room can be found — at this point, the Canucks can’t expect much in return for the 34-year-old, so for Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren, it could mean getting a goalie with tons of big-game experience for not much more than the willingness to roll the dice.

Update: 2:30 p.m. ET

So much for that.

Ray Emery

A pending unrestricted free agent, Emery went a remarkable 17-1-0 (.922 save percentage) with the Blackhawks during the regular season. There’s still significant risk attached to the 30-year-old, however, as Emery hasn’t been a full-time starter in the NHL since undergoing surgery for avascular necrosis in 2010.

Ryan Miller

A potential trade candidate out of Buffalo, the 32-year-old has one year remaining on his contract, with a $6.25 million cap hit. Miller has been good, but not elite-level, the past three seasons for the Sabres. In 2013, he went 17-17-5 with a .915 save percentage.

Mike Smith

A pending unrestricted free agent, Smith is in line for a good-sized payday. Whether Holmgren would have the appetite to sign another goalie out of Phoenix remains to be seen. Have Smith’s numbers been inflated playing behind a defense-first system? Certainly a few thought that was the case with Bryzgalov. It’s possible Smith ends up re-signing with the Coyotes anyway.

Steve Mason

For the moment, he’s number one on the Flyers’ depth chart. The 25-year-old had his struggles in Columbus, and former Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson may not recommend betting on the former rookie of the year to regain his form. But Mason was good in six starts for the Flyers, posting four wins and allowing just 12 goals combined.

Rangers’ Klein exits with muscle strain, won’t return

Kevin Klein

The New York Rangers lost versatile d-man Kevin Klein early in the first period of their game against Carolina and, shortly after, announced he was done for the night.

Klein played just 2:22 before leaving with a muscle strain. The injury forced the Blueshirts to use just five defensemen for the remainder of the evening — Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Boyle, Keith Yandle and Dan Girardi.

While it’s unclear how the injury occurred or how significant it is, Klein’s absence could be costly if it’s long-term. The 30-year-old was having a good year, with six points in 24 games, and saw his ice time go up to 21:03 per game from 18:29 last year.

If Klein is out moving forward, it would present an opportunity for Dylan McIlrath to take up a bigger role on the New York defense.


‘It was a scary incident’: Colaiacovo returns to Sabres practice after dented trachea

Carlo Colaiacovo
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Carlo Colaiacovo‘s remarkably quick recovery from what appeared to be a serious injury continued on Monday, as he returned to practice roughly 48 hours after suffering a dented trachea.

Colaicovo, who was hospitalized after taking a Viktor Arvidsson cross-check to the throat on Saturday, skated with his Buffalo teammates on Monday in advance of tomorrow’s game against Detroit.

“I feel good,” Colaiacovo said, per the Sabres’ website. “Obviously it was a scary incident and at the time it was pretty painful but it is what it is.

“Right now, it’s not really stopping me from doing much.”

Though he said he’s still feeling pain in and around his throat, Colaiacovo is eligible to return to the Sabres’ lineup tomorrow.

The 32-year-old, who has appeared in 15 games this season, would no doubt like to play tomorrow. It’d put him up against the same Detroit team that employed him during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, only to buy out his contract at the end of the year.

Couture (fractured fibula) continues skating with Sharks, says return is on schedule

Logan Couture
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Some good news at Sharks practice today — Logan Couture continued to skate with teammates, just one week after returning to the ice from a broken leg suffered on Oct. 17.

What’s more, Couture says he’s on schedule to meet the 4-6 week timetable for return.

“[I’m] where I thought I would be at this point in time,” Couture said, per CSN Bay Area.

While the 26-year-old wouldn’t put an exact date on his return, it’s clear both he and the Sharks are anxious for him to get back in the lineup — especially with the club surging, and Couture having only played in three regular-season contests this year.

Looking ahead, there are some dates worth circling on the ol’ calendar.

The Sharks have a relatively light week. After beating Calgary 5-2 on Saturday, they play just once in five days — Tuesday’s home tilt against the Penguins — before a weekend back-to-back set against the Ducks on Friday and Lightning on Saturday.

The Ducks game is in Anaheim, but the following night’s contest against the Bolts is at the friendly confines of SAP. So that could be a potential date to watch for — but it is worth noting Couture said he’s still hesitant about getting into game action until his first step is back.

“Until then, I’m not going to force my way out there and put myself in a bad spot,” he explained.

Kesler believes Ducks are ‘too good to not be in the playoffs’

Shane Doan, Ryan Kesler

It’s been 24 games for the Anaheim Ducks, more than a quarter of the season, and still they’re having trouble winning.

Friday against Chicago, they surrendered two goals in the last two minutes of regulation and lost in overtime.

Currently, the Ducks sit five points out of a playoff spot with a record of 8-11-5.

Still, forward Ryan Kesler is confident they’ll find a way into the postseason.

“If we keep playing like we are, we’re going to get into the playoffs — this team is too good to not be in the playoffs,” Kesler told The Province ahead of tonight’s home game versus Vancouver.

“We had a bad start and, to be honest, some guys weren’t ready to start the season. There’s a lot of hockey to be played and we’re ready for the challenge.”

To match the 45-30-7 record the Flames squeaked into the playoffs with last year, the Ducks would need to go 37-19-2 over their next 58 games.




Depends who you ask.

Anaheim’s playoff chances will depend a lot on how Pacific Division teams like San Jose, Arizona, and Vancouver finish. The Ducks may need to leapfrog two of those three to get in.

Yes, there’s always the chance four teams from the Pacific qualify, because it’s not like Colorado, Winnipeg, and Minnesota don’t have their problems. Even Nashville you have to wonder about lately. Heck, even Chicago isn’t assured of anything yet.

Bottom line, though, the Ducks have dug themselves a hole, and it’s starting to look a lot like the one the Kings dug last year.

In the NHL, even good teams don’t always climb out.

Related: Boudreau does the playoff math, and it’s no ‘easy task’ for Ducks