Feb 18, 2012, 5:09 PM EDT
We keep waiting for the Ilya Bryzgalov who was “near-elite” enough for the Flyers to sign to a 9-year, $51 million contract to emerge from a decidedly subpar shell and at least pull his weight. The team in front of him has its warts, particularly on defense, but it is good enough to be a real threat if it can get some good if not great goaltending. Unfortunately, as we saw again in Saturday’s 6-4 loss, that is increasingly unlikely to happen.
Miscues led to far too many scoring opportunities for the Penguins, but from the beginning, the Flyers were charged with winning a game in which they’d have nothing resembling acceptable NHL goaltending.
Matt Cooke of all people got the scoring started with the first of three poor goals allowed by Bryzgalov. He’d score again later and be named the player of the game, probably, disgustingly, deservedly so. The first two Pens goals were each on clean shots that Bryz saw from start to finish. The third came on a turnover and a weak defensive effort by Kimmo Timonen, again on Cooke, but Bryzgalov did little to counter the effort, sitting in his crease rather than pouncing.
Despite the Flyers ending the first period up 2-1 after a pair of gorgeous goals by Jaromir Jagr, and heading into the second intermission tied at 3, they ended the afternoon as poorly as possible.
Sergei Bobrovsky was called to action in the third, and although his three goals allowed weren’t quite as bad as Bryzgalov’s, they still left plenty to be desired.
Again, the defense was insufficient. Newcomer Nicklas Grossman wasn’t a weakness, and that’s at least a good sign. But carelessness with the puck was an issue, as were second effort opportunities.
Three third period goals put the Penguins up by a comfortable margin, although if anyone was going to tally a meaningless late goal, we’re glad it was Wayne Simmonds. Simmer scored his eighth goal in nine games with 19 seconds left, again from the doorstep.
The scoring is not a problem. The defense, from the forwards to the blueliners, is. The goaltending is. Right now, the Flyers are about as good as their place in the standings. The skaters came to the defense of their goaltenders in the locker room, and they need to do a better job of that on the ice.
But they also need far better goaltending behind them, no matter how many swords they’re willing to fall on with the press.
The Flyers absolutely suck in afternoon games, now sitting at 4-10-1. That’s more than half of their regulation losses this season, and they’ve allowed five or more goals in seven of those games.
Eric Wellwood had a fun first NHL goal, taking advantage of Dave Engelland’s lost edge in front of his own net and popping one home.
One game after Erik Gustafsson became the seventh Flyer to score his first NHL goal this season, Wellwood became the eighth.
Good god I wish this recap could focus more on Jagr’s pair of goals. He looked so good early, halting his momentum to stop just fast enough to snap wristers over MAF’s shoulders at will.
Nick Grossman somehow managed to be the only Flyers d-man with a plus rating, however much stock you give that stat. He also had eight hits and three blocked shots.
Kimmo missed some shifts in the third period. No word on exactly why, but it was not his best day, by far.
Another terribly reffed game by Stephane Auger, and the Pens have a right to say the same. When will the league 86 this guy?
How bad were the Flyers today? They allowed a goal while on a 5-on-3, one of two shorthanded goals they allowed in less than two minutes. Both came with Bryz in net. Humongous bad.
Midway through the game, the Flyers-Rick Nash rumors heated up again…
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