Flyers Drop Bryzgalov's Preseason Debut
A day after opening their preseason with a victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Philadelphia Flyers took the ice for their second contest of the exhibition season. Their opponent? The Maple Leafs, again. Although on Wednesday, the result (as well as the roster) was quite different than Tuesday’s. In the end, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov’s debut in orange ended with a 4-2 defeat at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
It wasn’t the crispest of performances by the Flyers, but that’s to be expected in the preseason. Toronto showed a bit of what the Flyers had displayed on Tuesday, steady skating and continued pressure that proved to be much of the difference in the game.
It’s not unusual for teams to play their rookies and prospects in their road contests while using veterans to entice the home crowd to come out and pay a few dollars. While the veterans continue to understand the game better than their young counterparts, the effort that ends up being the difference is often dictated by those looking to prove their way onto an NHL roster. The tide of effort was clearly displayed on Tuesday by young Flyers and Wednesday by young Maple Leafs.
After both teams failed to find their footing early in the game, it would be Leafs defenseman Juraj Mikus that beat Bryzgalov for the first time as a Flyer. The young blue-liner beat the high-priced Russian over his far shoulder and the Leafs took the 1-0 advantage into the second period.
The second frame was much like the first in the respect that neither team could score until late in the period. Rookie Matt Frattin, last year’s NCAA Hobey Baker Award finalist, beat Bryzgalov on a point shot with 5:29 remaining before the second intermission.
Not long after the game’s second goal, Andreas Nodl took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and one of the Flyers new acquisitions lived up to his billing on the subsequent penalty kill. Maxime Talbot, who was brought in as a character player and a penalty-killing ace made a terrific effort in the Leafs offensive zone while short-handed. While his effort was futile on the scoreboard, he ended up landing an enormous hit in pursuit of the puck and his determination awoke the Flyers for the first time all night.
Not long after that effort, impressive rookie forwards hooked up for the Flyers first goal and breathed new life into the team. Matt Read found Tomas Hyka with a beautiful stretch pass that Hyka took in on net with ease with 2:18 remaining in the second period. Hyka would also go on to draw a hooking penalty in the remainder of the frame, but the Flyers failed to capitalize.
Although Hyka’s efforts can’t be overlooked as he competed as well as anyone on the ice, it was Talbot’s reputation-defining play that made the game change. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the third period didn’t have a carryover from the end of the second.
It only took 4:05 into the third period for the Leafs to regain control of the game on a double deflection, the last of which went off of Joe Colborne’s chin-pad and past Bryzgalov. Although the Flyers would score again when Erik Gustafsson dug a puck past goalie Jonas Gustavsson with 2:08 remaining in the game, their efforts at a late comeback were thwarted. Philadelphia failed to score with their net empty and Frattin hit the vacated net to effectively end the game at 4-2.
For the Flyers, they’ll be able to get back on the ice Thursday night in London, Ontario against the Detroit Red Wings. Friday night will also be well worth watching, as it figures to be the first game that Jaromir Jagr plays this preseason. With all the new faces in orange and the obvious interest in the new-look team’s chemistry, the remainder of the preseason should be eventful for the Flyers regardless of results.