Ilya Bryzgalov meets and greets Philly media, has high hopes for Flyers this season

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After making the first big splash of the summer acquiring the rights to Ilya Bryzgalov and then later signing him to a nine-year, $51 million deal, the Philadelphia Flyers finally had their day in front of the media to introduce Bryzgalov to an eager audience.

Bryzgalov spoke with reporters today after showing off his new #30 sweater as well as his new Philadelphia-centric goalie mask and talked about how he hopes to be the guy to help the Flyers come away big winners this season and in the future.

Jay Greenberg of CSNPhilly.com got the low down on what was up with Bryzgalov as both he and Paul Holmgren spoke about what they’re looking to do to try and bring a Stanley Cup to Philadelphia. One thing Bryzgalov isn’t going to do is to put the pressure on himself.

“I never put the pressure on myself,” he said. “I know my job and I know what I have to do.

“Sorry guys, it’s from you [the media], you put the pressure on us and create the pressure around the team, but it depends how you can handle this.

“I think I can handle it. I know what I have to do. I know when I play bad and what I have to do to fix it.”

Good thing Bryzgalov says he knows how to fix it as he’ll have nearly 20,000 wannabe coaches telling him how to do it on a nightly basis at Wells Fargo Center should he struggle with things. As for playing for the Flyers, Bryzgalov knows that winning is expected in Philly and he knows he’ll have a team in front of him that knows how to do it for the most part.

“I have been in the league like seven or eight years and every year I see that team always had good players in the roster and they always played in the playoffs except one year,” said Bryzgalov. “Two years ago the team reached the final.

“It’s a team with a rich history. The team always puts in front of them the highest goal, to win the Stanley Cup.”

What Bryzgalov will have to do is to make life easier on the Flyers defense and while Holmgren said that Chris Pronger is looking like he’ll be ready to go by the start of the season, the rest of the Flyers defensive unit would love having a goalie behind them that can take care of them when they make mistakes. Older players like Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, and Andreas Lilja will enjoy not having to sweat things out too badly while younger veterans like Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, and Andrej Meszaros balance out the rest. It’s not as if the Flyers are hurting for talent there, but in goal they needed stability and that’s just what Bryzgalov should provide them.

Some negative fans will point towards what Bryzgalov did in last year’s playoffs against Detroit and say that’s a sign of things to come for the Flyers but Bryzgalov had to virtually carry the Coyotes into the playoffs by himself playing almost every game from late January until the end of the season. With Sergei Bobrovsky there to back him up in Philly, coach Peter Laviolette won’t likely want nor need to ride Bryzgalov as hard as Dave Tippett had to in Phoenix last year. It’s a bit of a wealth of riches for the Flyers which only leads their fans to think big about the upcoming season.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.