The Flyers don’t do a lot of shootout practice.
They never have under coach Peter Laviolette.
Sure, they do breakaway drills, but actual, 'line ‘em up at center ice and go from there' is a rare sight at Skate Zone.
Frankly, given the club’s lack of overall goal scoring and early season problems on special teams, you can’t blame the coaching staff for redirecting focus on aspects of play they know for certain they’ll see every game.
The odds of seeing a shootout on a regular basis are poor. Yet the shootout remains the weakest part of the Flyers’ team.
And it’s still the weakest part of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov’s game. Simply put, he’s terrible at defending against it.
It shows. Bryz’s shootout record in 2011-12 for the Flyers was three wins and five losses.
After Thursday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Florida, the Flyers are 23-42 all-time in shootouts, the worst record in the NHL.
“They’re not the only ones who struggle,” Florida general manager Dale Tallon said. “I think we might have been the worst or second-worst in the league last year.”
Jonathan Huberdeau, the Panthers’ 19-year-old rookie, used a dazzling backhand/forehand move that really faked out Bryzgalov for the game-winner. He was the Panthers' first shooter, too.
“I think it was good,” Huberdeau said. “I’ve been in a lot of shootouts in juniors, so I think this, keeping simple, I mean it was good there, and I got to do a move that I usually do.
“I got couple moves that I think work out so I just tried tonight and it worked so I’m just glad I can help my team to win in the shootout.”
He used that particular backhand/forehand move throughout his junior career at Saint John in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“I did that a lot actually,” he said. “I think I just kept it in my repertoire and that’s what I did.”
Bryzgalov was impressed with it, as well.
“Sometimes guys, you gotta give them credit,” he said. “They are skilled and working on some moves.”
It remains a mystery why Bryzaglov is able to stone a breakaway shooter in regulation play at any juncture in a game, but not during the shootout.
“You have to give those guys credit,” Danny Briere said. “I mean those weren’t easy saves. Huberdeau is playing with a lot of confidence now.
“And even the second goal [Peter Mueller] was inside the post. It’s a tough shot to stop so you can’t really blame Bryzgalov on that.”