Flyers' Hyka scores first NHL goal in loss to Leafs

Posted: September 21, 2011

Paul Holmgren blamed it on a clerical error. He said Czech winger Tomas Hyka was mistakenly listed with the first round of cuts on Monday. Good thing they got him before he got on the plane back to his Canadian junior team in time to score the Flyers' first goal Wednesday night.

Hyka, a 5-10, 158-pound rookie free-agent winger, scored his first NHL goal and drew a penalty on his very next shift in Wednesday night's 4-2 preseason loss to the Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers slogged for most of the game, except for a brief spell when Jody Shelley woke everybody up with an entertaining fight with Toronto's Jay Rosehill. Shelley lost the bout, sustaining a cut above his right eye as Rosehill was coming to the aid of a teammate whom Shelley had smeared into the boards.

But the Flyers killed off Shelley's boarding major and punctuated it when Matt Read found Hyka, who served the penalty, coming out of the box for a breakaway goal. Don't tell these guys the preseason is meaningless, especially after Claude Giroux made sure to get the puck from referee Kelly Sutherland so Hyka would have a souvenir.

Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, in his first action with the Flyers, saw 24 shots and made 21 saves.

He was beaten stick-side by Juraj Mikus in the first period. He had no chance on the next two goals. One was inadvertently deflected in by Flyers' rookie Brayden Schenn, the other came after a gorgeous tip-pass from Colby Armstrong to Tyler Bozak as the Flyers ran around in their own zone. The Leafs added an empty-netter.

Defenseman Erik Gustafsson scored the Flyers other goal with a little over 2 minutes left in the contest.

MORE GAME STUFF:

Defensemen Oskars Bartulis and Erik Gustafsson and forwards Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn and Matt Read are the five players who've played in the Flyers first two preseason games . . . Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux, Andrej Meszaros and Kimmo Timonen were among the veterans making their preseason debuts . . . Andreas Nodl obviously wasn't using his "nodl" when he committed a careless unsportsmanlike penalty by shooting the puck into the Leafs' net well after a first-period whistle. The Flyers killed off the infraction, but it wasn't smart . . . Maxime Talbot had a strong game killing penalties and also came to the aid with a fight against Philippe Dupuis after Dupuis flattened Schenn with a check . . . Regular Flyers beat writer Frank Seravalli remained in Ontario last night and caught a foul ball at a Blue Jays game. For those who have absolutely no life, there's a picture of it on Frank's Twitter site.

HOLD THE JAGR:

Jaromir Jagr likely will make his Flyers' debut tomorrow in Detroit. Peter Laviolette opted not to play the 39-year-old free agent signee last night and visa problems are preventing him from traveling to New London, Ontario, for tonight's game against the Red Wings.

COUTURIER SIGNS:

First-round draft pick Sean Couturier signed a 3-year entry-level contract yesterday. It's more of a housekeeping move than an indication that the young center has a roster spot waiting for him.

But don't tell that to Couturier.

"Obviously, I needed a contract to make the team," he said. "Now that it's done, I still have to work hard and prove myself and hopefully I stay around."

The chances of Couturier staying around beyond training camp aren't as remote as maybe they were a week ago, though. He had a strong game on Tuesday in Toronto and general manager Paul Holmgren tossed a bouquet of verbal roses after the deal was announced yesterday.

"The one thing that makes him attractive to our coaches already is his ability to play in the defensive zone," the Flyers general manager said. "In [Tuesday] night's game, we're killing a 5-on-3 and he's the guy that took the first faceoff. Obviously, there's a trust factor already with the coaches and how smart he is in the defensive zone. My experience, over the last number of years, is that young players who are good defensively have a better chance [to make the roster]."

The deal for Couturier, 18, does not count against the 50-contract maximum yet. He can play up to nine regular-season games and then would have two viable options. He could remain with the team, or he could be sent back to his Junior League team (Drummondville) for the remainder of the season. The Flyers could opt to send him to the Phantoms, but they would be wasting the first year of his deal since he could not be recalled to the parent club until Drummondville's season is over in the spring.

He will earn the rookie maximum of $925,000 plus up to $450,000 in bonus which makes his cap hit worth $1.375 million. That'd be a lot to pay a minor leaguer.

Couturier was selected by the Flyers with the eighth overall pick in this year's draft, a selection they acquired from Columbus in the Jeff Carter deal. He still is growing into his 6-4 frame, which the Flyers are banking also will make him a more fluid skater. Couturier did not play last night as other prospects rotated into the lineup.

"Going back to a few guys in our organization," Holmgren said, "Justin Williams made our team as an [18-year-old] because he was pretty good defensively. Same with Simon Gagne [age 19]. Same with Dainius Zubrus (age 18)."

"There's no question that he's going to get bigger and stronger as he matures physically. But he's a pretty good-looking player right now," Holmgren continued. "Who knows what's going to happen down the road here, but we're happy to have him in the fold."

WHAT'S NEXT:

The Flyers continue preseason play tonight in London, Ontario, against the Red Wings, then jump on a bus for a 2-hour ride to Detroit for another game against the Wings tomorrow. They'll probably get the day off Saturday before a practice Sunday and a home game against the Rangers on Monday. The preseason concludes with a home game against the Devils on Thursday, Sept. 29 and a visit to New Jersey on Oct. 1. The regular season opens Oct. 6 at Boston.

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