Don't blame Flyers loss on Ilya Bryzgalov

RICK STEWART / GETTY IMAGES Tyler Myers' game-winning goal sails past Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, as Sabres' Thomas Vanek crowds the crease.
RICK STEWART / GETTY IMAGES Tyler Myers' game-winning goal sails past Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, as Sabres' Thomas Vanek crowds the crease.
Posted: January 22, 2013

BUFFALO - Ilya Bryzgalov played two strong games for the Flyers and has nothing to show for it.

Praise for the goaltender after the team allowed eight goals in two games is not something you normally would hear. Forget the numbers for a second. Consider the situations: Two empty-netters, four power-play goals, including two redirections off teammates, and one goal during 4-on-4 play.

That leaves one tally - James Neal's one-time blast off a faceoff on Saturday - as Bryzgalov's lone, 5-on-5, even-strength goal against. The Flyers are 0-2, but Bryzgalov is not to blame. He has held up his end of the bargain, looking focused, active and athletic.

"He's made some big saves," Scott Hartnell said. "You can't fault him on a couple of the goals."

Bryzgalov's biggest blemish in Buffalo was a defensive breakdown, involving Sean Couturier and Braydon Coburn, which allowed Thomas Vanek to skate in on breakaway.

"It's probably one of the best goal scorers [in the league] coming in all alone, and he made a nice move," Hartnell said. "It's definitely not Bryz's fault. We've got to play better in front of him, that's for sure."

Bryzgalov stopped 60 out of 66 shots-faced during the weekend, nearly a 91 percent average that will win a lot of hockey games.

"I thought I played good games," Bryzgalov said. "You know, it's not my job to see what's going on in front of me. I've got to concentrate on my work and stopping the puck. The rest of the stuff, I'll let the coaches take care of it."

Rinaldo hurt

Skating toward the bench, Zac Rinaldo had a "weird" feeling in his leg.

He looked down and saw a gaping hole in his hockey sock above his right knee. Hobbling off the ice, he could barely extend his leg to stride.

"It was a clean cut," Rinaldo said. "It looked like someone took an exacto knife and cut it. I saw that and I was just kind of pissed off it happened."

Rinaldo was upset because Buffalo defenseman Robyn Regehr's flying skate diced his leg, requiring 20 stitches. Playing in the same city where Sabres goaltender Clint Malarchuk had his jugular vein slashed by an errant skate blade on March 22, 1989, causing him to nearly bleed out on the ice, Rinaldo has to consider himself lucky.

"I've never caught a skate like that," Rinaldo said. "I hit him, went over top of him, and it was just the way we collided. I guess his skate was still in the air, my leg was there."

He said it was just the second time in his life he has ever received stitches to close a cut.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren offered no word on how long Rinaldo will need to recover. Tuesday night's game in New Jersey seemed to be a longshot. Rinaldo said he "didn't want to know" how deep the cut went.

Rinaldo may not be the Flyers' biggest key to success, but his injury does have a trickle-down effect. Should he not be able to play, one of the Flyers' two healthy scratches, Jody Shelley or Tom Sestito, would be called upon - unless Danny Briere (wrist) is ready to return.

Rinaldo's possible absence also could open more space for rookie Scott Laughton, who was one of the Flyers' better players over the weekend. Laughton, 18, is nearly halfway through his league-allotted five-game tryout, before the Flyers must decide to keep him or send him back to junior hockey.

Moved like Jagr

After watching Thomas Vanek drop a career-high five points against the Flyers on Sunday, Paul Holmgren had to be sick knowing he let a player go last summer who did nearly the same thing in one night.

Jaromir Jagr, 40, finished the NHL's first night of the season as the league's leading scorer after netting two goals and two assists in his first game with the Stars.

Jagr racked up 53 points for the Flyers last season, when he made $3.3 million. Holmgren was forced to let him slide to Dallas, where he went for $4.5 million, because the Flyers were after big-ticket free agents Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. The Flyers did not land either player and are now significantly under the $70.2 million salary cap.

On Twitter: @DNFlyers


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