Finally a Shutout as Flyers Dominate Devils
93 games came and went last year in the Philadelphia Flyers season.
And the Flyers were incapable of shutting out their opponent in all 93.
Enter goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in Newark, NJ on Saturday night. The biggest signing in the Flyers offseason stopped all 20 shots he saw as the Flyers won 3-0. The win moved Philadelphia to 2-0-0 and continued to impress with their offseason changes.
Saturday's game was a clear indicator of what coach Peter Laviolette and general manager Paul Holmgren wanted this season.
Relentless pressure on offense.
The latter of the two worked together to perfection in Newark, as Bryzgalov saw mostly shots he was able to save, so he saved them. It seemed in the offseason that the prevailing theme was to figure out why the Russian veteran would fail in Philadelphia.
And why not? The franchise has been unable to count on steady goaltending since Ron Hextall. Philadelphia's crease is the layup of hockey jokes.
Lost in the projections of why Bryzgalov wouldn't work, was the fact that he's an elite goaltender. And he's been an elite goaltender in Phoenix, a team that comes nowhere close to the top five defenseman in orange and black.
Combine those things together and you get 42 saves on 43 shots in the season's first two games. Low shot totals, and solid save totals.
However, the defense and goaltending is only two-thirds of the equation. The offensive pressure that the Flyers supplied Saturday simply wore the Devils down.
It started with a brilliant keep-in by Matt Carle in the first period that resulted in Claude Giroux being left alone to Martin Brodeur's left side. He dropped to one knee on a slap shot and gave the Flyers the 1-0 lead.
After both teams went scoreless in the second period, the Flyers pressure burst the Devils pipes with a Matt Read goal on a break out to make it 2-0. The goal was the first of Read's NHL career.
Wayne Simmonds added the final tally on a goal-mouth scramble. His goal exemplified the physicality he brings to the team. If that wasn't enough, it was on full display when he easily defeated Matt Clarkson when the two dropped the gloves late in the game.
Last year the Flyers had plenty of scoring and sound defense at times. They wanted an upgrade in net to combine with those two attributes.
They got it.
At least in terms of shutouts.