Author: Matt Reitz

Detroit Red WIngs v Buffalo Sabres

Ehrhoff will miss “probably weeks” with upper body injury


The Buffalo Sabres 3-1 loss in Washington was more costly than the average midseason loss to a conference foe. After the game, Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff cryptically said that talented defenseman Christian Ehrhoff will “miss some time… probably weeks.” Ruff did not give any details on the type of injury Ehrhoff sustained, nor did he elaborate on the play that caused the injury. All we know is that it’s an “upper body” injury and he’ll be out awhile.

Even though the Sabres haven’t confirmed, there’s been speculation that the injury occurred in the middle of a scrap with Troy Brouwer at the end of the first period. He seemed to have no problem skating to the bench after the short-lived fisticuffs and headed to the locker room for the intermission. Unfortunately for the Sabres, the 7:23 of first period ice time would be all action Ehrhoff would see against the Caps when he was unable to return to the ice for the rest of the game.

Ehrhoff and the Sabres made plenty of news this offseason when the organization signed him to a heavily front-loaded contract worth $40 million over the next 10 years (including $10 million this season). Through 37 games, he’s scored three goals while posting an ugly minus 11 plus/minus rating.

The German blueliner is only the latest in a long line of Sabres to be bitten by the injury bug lately. Fellow defenseman Tyler Myers has been out for over a month with a wrist injury and still has no timetable for a return. Up front, the Sabres have watched the likes of Nathan Gerbe, Tyler Ennis, and Ville Leino all drop like flies as the team freefalls down the Eastern Conference standings. They’ve only won six of their last 20 games and haven’t won consecutive games since November 11.

This probably isn’t what Terry Pegula had in mind when he opened the vault this offseason.

Video: Kopecky decks Del Zotto in final seconds

Tomas Kopecky

Starting a fight in the final five minutes is a big no-no in the NHL. That’s the lesson Tomas Kopecky should have learned when he received a match penalty for his punch to Michael Del Zotto’s face with only seven seconds left in New York’s 4-1 win over Florida on Friday night. It’s a lesson that should have been reinforced when Mike Rupp took exception and returned the favor with his fists to Kopecky’s face afterwards. It’s a lesson that may conclude with a call from league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. His attendance for Saturday night’s game against Montreal hangs in the balance.

Right now, Rangers fans are probably convinced that the “A” on the front of Kopecky’s sweater doesn’t stand for “alternate captain.”

After the game, Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen added a little more fuel to the fire when he said that Del Zotto “deserved to get smashed in the face” and “he got what he deserved.” for delivering a butt end to the back of Kopecky’s head.  In a related note, Kopecky also got what he deserved—the aforementioned match penalty for his right cross to Del Zotto’s mug.

Take a look for yourself.

Should Bobrovsky get the Winter Classic start over Bryzgalov?

Ilya Bryzgalov, Nathan Horton

Take the Philadelphia media, add the spectacle of the Winter Classic, and mix in a potential goaltending controversy. Talk about a recipe for some high-profile speculation.

This time, it’s the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi that is wondering aloud about the Flyers’ growing dilemma between the pipes. He points out that Sergei Bobrovsky has been a dominant netminder over his last eight appearances—and he’s right. Over the same small sample size, the high-paid, high-profile Ilya Bryzgalov has been, shall we say, “less dominant.”

So what is Peter Laviolette to do with the Winter Classic on the horizon? Should he ride the hot hand going into an important divisional game against the New York Rangers? Or should he put in the well compensated goaltender who will be Philadelphia for the better part of the next decade? Funny how a nine-year contract can make decisions a little more complicated.

Carchidi goes on to say that benching the struggling Bryzgalov would “risk diluting Bryzgalov’s already-low confidence level.” Is that reason enough to put faith in Bryzgalov when the sport’s brightest regular season spotlight is shining on the team on Monday?

No one has ever said that playing between the pipes in Philadelphia is an easy job. Former Flyers’ (and Rangers’) netminder John Vanbiesbrouck has been through the grinder in some of the biggest hockey markets and explains how difficult the mental side of the game can be for a goaltender.

“Nobody knows what’s going on in another person’s insides.” Vanbiesbrouck told “I didn’t even know [Bryzgalov] was struggling until you just asked me about this. But the pressure he is putting on himself to not only perform but to analyze his performance, he is going to be his own worst enemy for a while. And he’s got to go through it until he realizes he is not here to impress everybody during practice, in the press and in management, trying to be Superman.”

Or Master of the Universe in Bryzgalov’s case.

Laviolette had an opportunity to squash any speculation after the Flyers’ 4-2 victory on Thursday night. Instead, he chose to sidestep the question and we’ll have a few days of speculation while the Flyers try to figure out who will get the nod in net.

In the spirit of playing armchair GM/coach, who do you think should get the start in the Winter Classic? Has the surging Bobrovsky earned the start or is it more important to the Flyers’ long-term success this season to put Bryzgalov in net? The comment section awaits…