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Flyers vs Lightning - 12/27/2011

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Flyers: 21-9-4 (Second in Atlantic Division, fourth in Eastern conference)

Lightning: 14-17-3 (Fourth in Southeast Division, 13th in Eastern Conference)

Previous games

The Flyers fell to their Winter Classic counterpart on Friday, losing 4-2 to the Rangers in New York. The Flyers are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, but have lost three of their last four (one game in a shootout in Colorado).

Tampa fell to the Avalanche, 2-1, on the road on Dec. 23 in overtime. The Bolts are 3-6-1 over their last 10 and own a 3-8-1 record since Nov. 27.

Who's hot?

Well, not the Flyers. Their eight goals during the recent 1-2-1 stretch are a season low for a four-game span. Four have been power-play goals, more than the Lightning have all month.

Scott Hartnell, however, has scored in three straight games vs. the Lightning. He has seven goals and six assists in 11 December games.

For Tampa: Steven Stamkos has five goals and four assists in his last four home games. Martin St. Louis has five goals over his last eight games overall.


The Lightning have gone 2-0-1 against the Flyers in Tampa this year, splitting two games in February before a 2-1 victory Nov. 9 on Brett Connolly's overtime goal. Tampa Bay had been on a 4-0-1 run overall in this series before losing 5-2 in Philadelphia on Dec. 10.

In that game, Claude Giroux suffered a concussion that sidelined him four games.

Brayden Schenn will return to the Flyers' lineup on Wednesday. He was recently sidelined with an upper-body injury.

In net

Ilya Bryzgalov will be in net for the Flyers. He has struggled lately: Bryz has lost his last three starts while allowing 11 goals. His .895 save percentage this season ranks among the league's worst.

Bryzgalov has only faced 40 shots over two meetings with the Lightning this season, allowing two goals in each. He's 3-1-1 with a 2.07 GAA lifetime against them.

Tampa will likely run out Mathieu Garon, who has a 3.63 GAA lifetime vs. the Flyers. If not Garon, look for Dwayne Roloson, who has started each game during the Lightning's 2-0-1 home stretch vs. the Flyers.


Flyers: Danny Briere (bruised hand), Sean Couturier (head), Erik Gustafsson (wrist), Chris Pronger (concussion, knee surgery), Blair Betts (lower-body injury).

Lightning: Ryan Shannon (lower-body injury), Nate Thompson (lower-body injury), Matt Gilroy (lower-body injury), Mattias Ohlung (arthroscopic knee surgeries).

Sound off

How important is it for the Flyers to get on a roll ahead of the Winter Classic?

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I posted this in another thread but probably should be here too.

Maybe he is starting to get it?

Ilya Bryzgalov was so angry that he was talking to himself.

Sitting in his stall with his skates on inside the Flyers' locker room at the St. Pete Times Forum, Bryzgalov was trying to come up with answers for his latest ebb in a season full of ups and downs.

This time, it was after perhaps his worst performance as a Flyer, when he allowed four goals on the first 10 shots he saw, en route to a 5-1 hurtin' put on by the Lightning.

He didn't know quite how to describe his performance.

"Outstanding," Bryzgalov said, dripping with sarcasm. "What do you think? We lose, 5-1. After 4-2 and 6-0. How do you think I feel about my game? What do you think?"

Now, all Bryzgalov needs is to check his iPhone Compass app, the one that helped him get out of the woods earlier in the season.

On the heels of a seven-game winning streak to start the month, the Flyers have lost four of their last five, being outscored, 18-5, in those four losses. The only game in that stretch that Bryzgalov did not start was the only game the Flyers won. Then again, Bryzgalov has had stretches of 5-0-1 and 6-0-0 this season.

Overall, Bryzgalov's save percentage has dipped to .890 and his goals-against average has climbed to 3.01. Only Michal Neuvirth, Dwayne Roloson, Steve Mason and Marty Brodeur have a worse save percentage with at least 16 games played.

When asked whether he was worried about Bryzgalov's play, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette did not exactly give his $51 million man a vote of confidence.

"In the end, I think we can all be a little bit better," Laviolette said. "We can all do a better job here."

It was just the fourth time the Flyers have lost back-to-back games this season. They have not lost three straight at any point.

With the loss, the Flyers enter tomorrow night's contest tied in points with Pittsburgh for second in the Atlantic Division. They could slide from first to third in the division - and fifth place in the Eastern Conference - in only 8 days.

"We just didn't score on our chances," Jaromir Jagr said. "We played most of the game in their zone. Everything went our way 2 weeks ago. Now it looks like nothing goes our way."

Last night, the shot count seemed to tell the story. Combining the first and third periods, the Flyers outshot Tampa Bay by a total of 29-8. In that middle frame, the Flyers managed only three shots to the Lightning's eight.

"We lost our identity a little bit in the second period," Laviolette said. "It went from what was a good period to a period where we sat back and didn't move."

Then, in the third period, with the Lightning already clinging to a 4-1 lead, the Flyers had little wiggle room in front of Mathieu Garon.

"It doesn't really matter if you outplay them or not," Jagr said. "The goal is to score more goals to win the hockey game. When they had the lead, they could do anything they want."

That shot count, instead, says more about the Flyers' own end.

"We were aware that they are a good team and if you fool around, you will get in trouble," Bryzgalov said. "I think the team played really well. Their goalie played an outstanding game. Our goaltender, me by myself, needs to be better. That's the bottom line."

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Get what? That he sucks? That doesn't do the Flyers any good. I mean I doubt very much he's been holding anything back in his game.

Did Holmgren and Snider ever see this guy play? Cause all I'm seeing is some of the lamest goaltending I've ever seen. And as a veteran Flyer fan, I'm a connoisseur of lame goaltending.

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Here's Bill Meltzer's breakdown:

Yesterday was a frustrating night at the office for the Flyers in their 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay. Philly dominated the territorial possession for much of the game but were done in by a combination of strong goaltending from Tampa's Mathieu Garon, mediocre goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov, several costly coverage breakdowns and 22 blocked shot attempts.

As in the Rangers game, it was the second period that cost the Flyers a chance to win this game, as the teams went to the first intermission tied (in this case 1-1) and then Philly found itself staring at a multiple goal deficit (in this case 4-1) by the end of the middle stanza. The Flyers have now lost four of their last five games, and have given up the game's first goal in all five.

Despite Tampa scoring first, the Flyers really played a strong road period in the opening stanza. They controlled the play for virtually the entire period, and the Claude Giroux line created no fewer than a half-dozen prime scoring chances. But it wasn't until late in the period when Giroux intentionally created a carom off the end boards, recovered the puck and set up an opportunity for a wide open Scott Hartnell that the Flyers broke through for their only goal of the period (or game).

The Flyers' power play was symbolic of their frustrations last night. Time of possession was no problem, as the Flyers were set up in the offensive zone for much of their man advantages. But getting shots on net proved to be difficult-- either due to blocks, missed nets or simple flubs (example: for as many good things as Jaromir Jagr has done this season, he has shanked a lot of one timers or fumbled away seemingly wide open shots). It was not until Philly's fourth power play of the game that they finally got a shot on goal.

Last night's game was a brutal one for Philly's all-rookie fourth line of the returning Brayden Schenn centering Harry Zolnierczyk and Zac Rinaldo. The unit was minus-two in less than 10 minutes of ice time. Meanwhile, Braydon Coburn ended up out on the ice for all four of Tampa's even-strength goals.

The Flyers also need to get more secondary scoring to help out the Giroux line. Wayne Simmonds had been hot of late, but Jakub Voracek (after a lengthy stretch of strong play) has not been noticeable during the team's recent skid. The physical problems that James van Riemsdyk has been having seem to be affecting his game. Matt Read is now nine games removed from his last goal and is pointless in four of the last five.

Danny Briere, who battled through finger and hand issues to play last night, generated seven shots on goal. But Briere has just one point (the tying goal late in the Colorado game) to show for his last five games after a stretch of two goals and eight points in the previous six games.

As for Bryzgalov, the goaltender needs to start coming up with more saves. None of last night's goals could be truly deemed soft -- there was a deflection off a faceoff, a rebound off an initially screened shot, two goals where someone was wide open on the doorstep and a meaningless late goal high to the long side. Nevertheless, it is his responsibility to come up with a few momentum saves to keep his team close.

If it were just last night's game, I'd give Bryz a pass. Games where a goalie seems very little action and then suddenly faces a tester or two are often tougher than ones where he's bombarded with rubber but all but a few are unscreened shots from the perimeter.

But it wasn't just last night. Bryzgalov has had far too many games like that this season where he doesn't come up with a single clutch save. His goals against average has crept above 3.00 and his save percentage has dropped to the bottom five in the NHL (third lowest among goalies who have made 20 or more starts). That is just flat out unacceptable.

Going forward, the Flyers need Bryzgalov to get in synch on a much more consistent basis. For now, however, Sergei Bobrovsky is the better of the two Philadelphia goaltenders. I would expect Bob to be in goal tomorrow night in Pittsburgh. If he does well against the Penguins, he could even earn the start in the Winter Classic.

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I missed last night's game (power outage!) but what was the deal with Hartnell & Malone, who came off the bench? I heard it was a chippy game all night which i love, anyone care to share some more details as to who and what happened during the game?

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That wasn't an "f-bomb", that was Russian "vekin" which means "previously." Yeah, that's the ticket.

Americans obsession with mere words and boobies is astonishingly immature. Blood and eyeballs getting popped, sure, no problem. Show a nipple and it's an outrage!

Edited by TedZep
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