Flyers’ Bryzgalov makes his debut at Wells Fargo Center

Posted: September 21, 2011

The expectations for Ilya Bryzgalov might rival those of any player in the NHL. All the new Flyers goalie is expected to do is patch up the team's most glaring weakness of a year ago.

In last year's playoffs the Flyers made seven in-game goalie changes. That equaled an NHL record that the Flyers hope they never approach again.

With that as a backdrop, Bryzgalov made his Flyers debut at the Wells Fargo Center in Wednesday's exhibition game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Few will remember that this wasn't a stellar debut for the free-agent signee by the time the postseason approaches, or maybe even in two weeks. He played the whole game and allowed three goals, with the Leafs tallying an empty-netter, as the Flyers fell, 4-2.

Toronto's Juraj Mikus lifted a first-period wrist shot from an angle on the right side past Bryzgalov for the only scoring that period.

Matt Frattin made it 2-0, scoring on a slap shot just inside the blue line through a screen, but the Flyers scored on a Tomas Hyka breakaway to enter the third period down 2-1. The Leafs regained a two-goal lead on tip-in by Tyler Bozak early in the third period.

Erik Gustaffson scored for the Flyers with 1 minute, 28 seconds left.

The Flyers played more veterans than they did in Tuesday's opening 4-0 win at Toronto. Among the veterans in the lineup were Danny Briere, Claude Giroux, and Scott Hartnell, who combined for 83 goals last season.

In the second period, Briere hit the crossbar and Giroux hit the post.

Even though it was an exhibition game, tempers flared when Toronto's Jay Rosehill and the Flyers' Jody Shelley exchanged several blows in a second-period fight.

Another anticipated newcomer, Jaromir Jagr, will play his first Flyers game Friday in Detroit against the Red Wings. Jagr won't play Thursday in London, Ontario, against the Red Wings because of visa problems.

Earlier Wednesday, Sean Couturier, the Flyers' first- round draft choice, signed an entry-level contract with the team . Now comes the challenging part - attempting to make the roster this year.

Couturier, who turns 19 in December, was the Flyers' first-round pick (eighth overall) in the recent NHL draft. The pick was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the Jeff Carter trade.

The three-year entry-level deal is for $1.375 million per season, which includes $450,000 in performance bonuses per season, according to an NHL source.

"I am glad it is done and now I can really focus on trying to make the team," Couturier said after Wednesday morning's skate at the Skate Zone in Voorhees.

According to Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, because of Couturier's age there are two options - either he makes the Flyers or plays junior hockey this season.

If he does make the team for good, then the Flyers would have to make a roster move. NHL teams are allowed 50 on the roster, and Couturier would be the 51st.

However, according to rules of the entry-level contract, he would not count on the roster until playing his 11th game.

If he doesn't stay with the team after he plays 10 games, he would return to junior hockey.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Couturier had a goal and an assist in his first game, on Tuesday.

"One thing that's attractive to our coaches already is he has the ability to play in the defensive zone," Holmgren said.

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225,, or @sjnard on Twitter. Staff writer Sam Carchidi contributed to this report.


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