NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, December 28th
(All times Eastern)
Philadelphia Flyers (17-16-4) at Edmonton Oilers (13-24-3), 10 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Philadelphia Flyers will face a former teammate on
Saturday, as they visit Ilya Bryzgalov and the Edmonton Oilers for a highly-
anticipated battle at Rexall Place.
Bryzgalov's tumultuous tenure with the Flyers came to an abrupt end last
summer, as Philadelphia banished the controversial goaltender with a massive
buyout. The outspoken netminder will get a chance to prove the Flyers made the
wrong decision by letting him go, as he expects to get the start for the
Oilers on Saturday.
The 33-year-old Russian backstop joined the Flyers in the summer of 2011,
signing an 8-year, $51 million deal. However, perceptions of inconsistent play
along with off-ice and locker-room behavior issues contributed to the buyout
-- one which saved the Flyers an estimated $6 million on the salary cap for
the remaining six years of the deal.
Bryzgalov was signed by Edmonton to a one-year deal in early November and has
gone 2-4-0 with a 2.80 goals against average and .915 save percentage this
season. Bryzgalov, who also played for Anaheim and Phoenix before signing his
massive deal with the Flyers, is 3-0-0 with a 1.86 GAA and .927 save
percentage over four career games (three starts) against Philadelphia.
"It's just another game of hockey," said Bryzgalov on Friday of facing the
The Flyers enter this emotional clash against their former goaltender with
wins in three of their last four games, but Philly also has lost its last five
tilts on the road, where the club is just 6-9-4 this season.
"On the road we tend to not fall asleep but not push the issue enough at
certain times. And we end up letting our guard down a bit," Flyers coach Craig
Berube recently told his team's website.
Philadelphia hopes to solve its recent road issues during an upcoming six-game
swing, which begins tonight in Edmonton before taking the Flyers to Vancouver,
Calgary. Colorado, Phoenix and finally New Jersey.
The Flyers won their ninth straight home game in their last trip to the ice,
as Wayne Simmonds tallied twice and Steve Mason stopped 26 shots to help
Philly enter the Christmas break with Monday's 4-1 triumph over the Minnesota
Claude Giroux and Luke Schenn also scored with Jakub Voracek chipping in a
pair of assists for the Flyers. Voracek extended his point streak to eight
games, while Giroux reached the scoresheet for a seventh straight outing.
The Flyers expect to have Steve Downie back on Saturday, as the forward is
ready to return from an upper-body injury that caused him to miss the last two
games. Downie has three goals and 16 assists this season and has 12 points (2
goals, 10 assists) in 20 games since he was traded by Colorado on Oct. 31.
The Oilers, meanwhile, hope Bryzgalov can follow up Devan Dubnyk's 27-save
shutout on Friday night that lifted his club to a 2-0 win over the Calgary
Flames. It was Dubnyk's second shutout of the season and eighth of his career.
Ryan Smyth scored both goals -- one an empty-netter -- for the Oilers, who
have won their past two after dropping six straight games. Boyd Gordon
assisted on both tallies as Edmonton recorded just its third winning streak of
"You have to give (the Flames) credit, they are a hard-working team, but by no
means are we going to lay down and be pushed over," Smyth said. "We're a team
that's going to fight and claw and try and get ourselves bumping up in the
standings, one game at a time and we did it tonight."
Philadelphia beat a visiting Oilers club by a 4-2 score on Nov. 9. Giroux
tallied the game-winner to help the Flyers beat Edmonton for the second time
in three meetings, while Mason stopped 24-of-26 shots for the win to improve
to 6-4-0 with a 3.86 GAA in 11 career starts in this matchup.
The Oilers, however, are 7-2-0 with a tie in the last 10 overall meetings
against the Flyers. Philadelphia also is winless over its last four trips to
Edmonton, going 0-3 with a tie since last winning at Rexall Place on March 19,
12/28 10:31:10 ET