Tag: John Vanbiesbrouck

Ilya Bryzgalov, Mike Knuble

Ilya Bryzgalov sets new Flyers’ consecutive shutout mark


John Vanbiesbrouck set what was the Philadelphia Flyers’ shutout streak record at 227 minutes and 40 seconds in 1999, but that run is now a thing of the past. Red-hot goalie Ilya Bryzgalov extended his streak to at least 228 minutes tonight in a game that is still going on against the New York Islanders.

Naturally, the focus then shifts to the modern NHL record. Oddly enough, a former Flyers goalie holds that mark, as Brian Boucher set it at 332 minutes and one second with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2004.

The Flyers are currently up 3-0 on the Islanders with a little more than a period to go. Breezy still has quite a ways to go to flirt with Boucher’s modern-day record, but let there be no doubt that Philly is ecstatic that he’s even in the conversation right now.

Mike Richter will play in Winter Classic alumni game


Retro-inspired sweaters already add a nostalgic feel to Winter Classic games, but nothing brings the sentimentality quite like alumni games. Still, there’s always a sense of sadness when a fan favorite can’t make it (paging Wayne Gretzky). Luckily, Adam Rotter passes along comforting news: Mike Richter will play for the New York Rangers’ side in the upcoming 2012 Winter Classic alumni game.

There is a caveat, though: he won’t play as a goalie.

Sure, that’s a bummer, but his reasoning is sound. Richter had to hang up his pads because of concussion issues and has some concern about possible risks related to playing that position – even in a friendly contest. As Rotter says, “Any Mike Richter is better than no Mike Richter,” though.

Really, the saddest thing might be that Dan Blackburn will be one of the Rangers’ goalies (alongside John Vanbiesbrouck). In a fairer world, Blackburn would still be an active NHL goalie, instead.

Hopes destroyed: Wayne Gretzky says he won’t be in alumni game in Philly

Wayne Gretzky

It’s your daily dose of Winter Classic alumni game chatter.

The other day we opined about how the alumni game would go from “fun and nostalgic” to “truly great” if Wayne Gretzky would join in on the festivities on December 31st.

Leave it to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun to go and talk to Gretzky himself and destroy all of our hopes and dreams.

As it turns out, Gretzky will be hanging out with his family for the holidays and for some bizarre reason, he thinks that no one wants to see him out on the ice.

“No, I’ll be with my family for the holidays,’’ Gretzky said. “Plus, they don’t need to see a 50-year-old slow guy out there!’’

It’s all right Wayne, seeing Mario Lemieux in Pittsburgh last year playing with the Penguins alumni wasn’t one of the coolest things we got to see or anything. In all seriousness, it’s good for 99 to stick by his family and spending the holidays in Philly is something weirdos like us would want to do.

While it’s expected that guys like Brian Leetch, Mike Richter, and Mark Messier would likely take a shot at playing in this game, getting an assortment of other characters in Rangers history would be fun too. Let’s make it a mish-mash of old crowd favorites and free agent pick-ups that didn’t pay off.

Bring us Tie Domi, Marty McSorley, John Ogrodnick, John Vanbiesbrouck and Bobby Holik. Hell, bring us Jeff Beukeboom too.

Most of all, bring us Pavel Bure. Make it an event New York, you’ve got the host of names to pull it off.

Best and worst sweaters of all-time: Florida Panthers

John Vanbiesbrouck

The Florida Panthers’ short history in the NHL has seen them rise as high as the Stanley Cup finals in 1996 and as low as… Well as low as their payroll was before buying everyone this summer. Their sweater history is short as well and not all that different. Of course, with the team going from red to blue and now back to red next season, there’s some highlights and lowlights to be had.

Best: I know I’ve been playing favorites with original sweaters so far through these team-by-team pieces, but the Panthers original red road jersey is a thing of beauty. While the team wasn’t always lighting up the scoreboard, they looked striking with the roaring, leaping panther on the front, the pointed shoulder yoke, and the funky secondary logo on the shoulders. The crisscrossed palm tree with a hockey stick is still one of my favorite regional nods for a second logo. The red was bold, the blue was navy striking, and the white and yellow highlights in it were perfect.

Worst: For everything the original jersey did right, the Panthers’ most recent light blue third sweater did wrong. The derivative circular logo to make it look old school, the robotic looking panther in the middle of the crest made it look like something more befitting an automobile logo, and the out-of-nowhere use of baby blue made the whole thing boring. Making it look even dumber was the secondary logo on the shoulders with “FLA” in block letters with the sun behind it. Yawn city. This sweater is the visual representation on why comedians call Florida “God’s waiting room.”

Correcting a mistake: Back in 2003, the Panthers decided to turn everything in their home uniforms navy blue opting to eliminate red from their look. Bad idea. Not only were the Panthers not winning on the ice they weren’t even looking special and standing out above the crowd. The team is switching back to a red home uniform this season as part of their marketing campaign that “We See Red.” It might be an ad wizard sort of thing to do, but paying respect to the only successful part of your past makes a load of sense.

Assessment: We’ll see how the new red uniforms play out for the Panthers next season, but it’s got to be better than their over-reliance on blue that they went to the last two seasons. Going from navy blue to sky blue and bland only made the team look like how they played: Like crap. Here’s to hoping that Dale Tallon’s wild spending ways help make their switch back to red look fearsome for opponents on the ice.

Greatest goalie generation? Why this is a special time for American netminding

Boston Bruins Victory Parade

If you ask me, this is a golden era of goaltending for hockey. While the “Dead Puck Era” produced better numbers in many cases, it’s hard to imagine a time in which so many teams had so many solid-to-great goalies. Maybe that might make it tougher for individuals to stand out, but there really aren’t a whole lot of teams who are just flat-out “lost” at the position anymore. There aren’t many squads that need to camouflage Dan Cloutier-type liabilities in net.

We could debate the bigger picture merits of goalies all day, but there’s one thing you’ll have a really tough time making me dismiss: this is the highest point for American hockey goaltending ever. One could argue that is true from both a quality and quantity standpoint. With all due respect to the legendary Olympic run of Jim Craig, scattered talents throughout older times and a solid recently past era that included Tom Barrasso, John Vanbiesbrouck and Mike Richter, this is a peak generation for U.S. netminding.

Let’s take a look at a list of the most prominent active American goaltenders to drive the point home.

Tim Thomas

It’s been said over and over again, but it never really gets old: Thomas put together a combined playoff and postseason run for the ages this year. He generated a record-breaking .938 save percentage during the regular season and somehow found a way to top that by reaching the .940 mark in the playoffs. Oh yeah, he also won the Vezina Trophy, Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup in the process. It isn’t outrageous to wonder if Thomas literally put together the best single season and playoff run an NHL goalie ever enjoyed, although it’s tough to be sure because different scoring eras fudge the numbers (we’re looking at you, high-scoring 1980’s).

Thomas might not be a traditional butterfly goalie, but his “redneck style” and resilient journey to the NHL make him the American dream in leg pads.

source: Getty ImagesRyan Miller

If you just flat-out refuse to admit that an unorthodox goalie is the best in the world, then Miller provides another example of an American netminder who is clearly at the top of the form. While Thomas owned just about everything that had to to with 2010-11, Miller was the darling of the 2009-10 season, including the 2010 Olympics. He carried the U.S. to a surprising silver medal after helping them make it within a famous Sidney Crosby overtime goal of the gold and took home the 2010 Vezina Trophy as well.

For those counting at home, the last three Vezina Trophies went to American goalies: Thomas twice and Miller once. The closest example of that happening before was when Barrasso won it in 1984 and Vanbiesbrouck took it in 86.

source: Getty ImagesJimmy Howard

This class of American goalies runs deep. Howard might not roll of your tongue when you’re naming the NHL’s elite, but he’s the present and future of Detroit’s goaltending. The past has been pretty sweet, too; he’s currently riding two consecutive 37-win seasons. After his stats slipped a bit from the 09-10 to 10-11 regular season, Howard responded with a .923 save percentage in the 2011 playoffs.

Jonathan Quick

Jonathan Bernier couldn’t win the Jonathan Championship from Quick last season and it’s going to be tough for Bernier to usurp the steady American next season. Quick  won 39 games in 09-10 and 35 last season while improving his individual numbers along the way. The Connecticut product could rise in many peoples’ eyes if he comes through in what looks to be a promising 2011-12 season for the Kings.

source: APCraig Anderson

The jury seems to be out on Anderson, but one cannot deny his potential after he carried the Colorado Avalanche to a surprise playoff berth in 09-10. The Ottawa Senators made a big investment in Anderson and he might just have the tools to make that pay off.

Ben Bishop, Brian Boucher, Jack Campbell, Scott Clemmensen, Ty Conklin, Rick DiPietro, Brent Johnson and Al Montoya

The long list of backups and/or emerging prospects might push this era over the edge. Boucher and Johnson rank among the better journeyman backups in the league while Conklin isn’t far behind. Bishop is an over-sized goalie for St. Louis while Clemmensen signed an over-sized contract with Florida. DiPietro’s health is a problem and his contract is a punchline, but there was a time when he was an All-Star goalie. Campbell and Montoya are former first round draft picks we’ll probably see more of in the future. If nothing else, more American born goalies are getting work than ever before.


Again, if you ask me, this marks the highest point for American goaltending at both the elite level (three straight Vezina trophies) and from a sheer quantity standpoint. I’m curious to hear counterarguments to this point, though, so feel free to light some logical fireworks in the comments.