More of the same for Bryzgalov in Flyers' loss


More of the same for Bryzgalov in Flyers' loss


NASHVILLE Ilya Bryzgalov made his first start of the second half of the season Saturday night in Music City

Unfortunately, the results were predictably the same. A goal off a players leg, another deflected upward off a bad patch of ice.

What can I do? What can I do? Nothing, Bryzgalov said.

It was just enough to assure a 4-2 Predators victory over the Flyers at Bridgestone Arena even though the Flyers badly out-shot them, 38-25.

It was a frustrating game for our guys, coach Peter Laviolette said. We got the attempts. We turned things back in the direction we wanted and didnt get the results.

You play a couple of games and get wins, but you want a better process through it. Tonight the process was better but you get some tough bounces.

At the other end, Predators goalie Pekka Rinne was near impossible to beat with 36 saves.

Hes one of the best goalies in the league, Wayne Simmonds said. I felt some shifts we had traffic shots and some we didnt. When he sees a fair shot, hes going to make a save.

Because of James van Riemsdyks absence with a concussion (see story), Laviolette began the game with Simmonds on Brayden Schenns line with Matt Read, then switched out Schenn with Sean Couturier to generate more offense.

Coots got moved with us and I thought me, Coots and Reader played pretty good together, Simmonds said. We controlled pucks down low. We tried to get traffic in front of the net.

Simmonds, who logged 17 minutes with four shots, scored his 12th goal.

Of concern here is Claude Girouxs slump (see story).

Though he is tied for second in the NHL scoring race with Vancouvers Daniel Sedin (49 points), Giroux now has just one goal in his last 10 games and two since coming back from a concussion.

Im sure you get frustrated a little bit and were trying to talk him out of that, Laviolette said of Giroux. Hes a terrific talent. With all players, theres always peaks and valleys and flow of things.

It would be great if teams and players only experience great things in the course of 82 games, but thats not the way life is. Hes working hard. You can never go wrong with that philosophy.

Rinne had a 2-1 lead going into the third period. Max Talbot got an early shorthanded chance, but the puck was on his backhand.

Soon after the Predators scored at 4:30 off the rush with the Flyers defense in full retreat, Jordin Tootoos backhanded pass into the slot went off Nick Spallings leg.

What can we do? Bryzgalov asked again. But the team played great and deserved to get a point. They battled hard.

Simmonds, who played a hard physical game got it back five minutes later, outworking Preds defenseman Ryan Ellis for a rebound in the crease to make it a one-goal game.

Ironic, given that early in the second period Ellis violently flipped Simmonds like a pancake in one of the best legal hip checks seen anywhere this season.

That was my fault I kinda took a jump there and he made a good play, a good hit, Simmonds said. I tried to cut to the middle and he caught me.

The opening five minutes of the game were frightful as the Flyers defense was on its heels, particularly Andrej Meszaros and rookie Erik Gustafsson. Nashville was all over the crease yet didnt score.

The Predators got off four consecutive shots that had Bryzgalov moving backwards, forwards and sideways trying to find pucks. Roman Josi had three of those shots.

Seconds after that flurry ended, the Preds pinned Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn down and scored off Francis Bourque, but upon review the goal was overruled for kicking the puck.

The Flyers survived, settled down and got some shots from distance on Rinne, but nothing from close range with traffic in front.

Bryzgalov has been burned all season on deflections. During the final minute of the period with Nashville on the power play, Martin Erats shot in the high slot took a freak hop upwards into the net.

Off the ice, Bryzgalov said, shaking his head. He throws the puck and it just jumped off the ice in front of me and goes up. It doesnt hit anybody else.

The Flyers had a couple of better chances on Rinne in the second period, but theres a reason why hes second in the NHL in victories (23). Hes got cat-like reflexes.

You saw that six minutes into the period when he swatted Couturiers open shot out of mid-air as it was headed into the net. That hurt even more because Nashville got a goal at 10:36 from Sergei Kostitsyn to make it 2-0.

The game could have gotten away there, but Couturier came up ice two minutes later and snapped a wrister from the right circle to get the Flyers back into it.

Still, it wasnt enough.

E-mail Tim Panaccio at

End to End: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?


End to End: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?

Each week, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End this week are Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone, all producers/reporters for

The question: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?

What Shayne Gostisbehere accomplished in his rookie season was unforgettable. He set Flyers records, broke some NHL rookie records and finished with 17 goals in 64 games.

The list can go on and on. He can become the first Flyer to win the Calder Trophy when the NHL Awards are announced on June 22. We all want to see what "Ghost" can do as an encore.

But now Gostisbehere has expectations. Lofty expectations — fair or not.

Gostisbehere will be expected to quarterback the power play, a job he excelled at this season and wrangled away from Mark Streit, whose injury paved the way for his call-up.

In addition, Gostisbehere will be asked to produce offensively and consistently as well as continue to hone his defensive game, which still has areas that needs improvement.

Seventeen goals will be difficult to duplicate and we should not hold him to — or expect — that number again in his sophomore season. We should all temper our expectations.

But the reason I believe Gostisbehere has the most to lose in 2016-17 is because he's very much still a growing product. There will be growing pains and should he hit those next season, how will he bounce back from it? Defensemen generally develop at a slower pace than forwards, and for Gostisbehere to enjoy so much success in Year 1, how will he react to a step backward in 2016-17? It's a weighted response and one that's geared more toward the long-term, but to me, Gostisbehere has the most to lose next season.

I believe Matt Read will be back next season.
After all, he’s under contract through the 2017-18 campaign.
But his leash will be as short as it’s even been. At 30 years old, he’ll be fighting just to dress. And when he gets playing time, he’ll have to do enough to show he deserves it over other candidates, many of which will be young, spry and hungry for jobs.
Read said he learned a lot last season.
Will he make adjustments and carve out a role in Dave Hakstol’s system?
Next season, we’ll get an answer.
If he doesn’t, his time in Philadelphia could quickly dissolve.
And who knows what that would mean for his NHL career.

Want to talk about having something to lose? How about possibly losing a job, which is a very real possibility for Scott Laughton next season.

The young forward, who will turn 22 on Monday, posted seven goals and 14 assists in a career-high 71 games this season. But much more telling was the fact he found himself in the press box as a healthy scratch down the stretch, as Dave Hakstol felt there were better options as the team completed its improbable run to the playoffs. And that came after he was moved from his natural center position to the wing for the first time since he represented Canada in the world junior tournament.

His inconsistency has come a pretty bad time because as more and more talented prospects come through the system, roster spots with the big club become more and more precious. Laughton will need to have a very good summer and training camp to earn his spot again. The forward prospects will push him during camp, which could be a good thing. But even if Laughton makes the Flyers out of camp when the season starts, the leash could still be short. 

Ron Hextall makes no bones about how he prefers to hold on to young talent and let it develop. But we could be at the point where the Flyers want to see Laughton take the next step. And it could be a much different story if you replace young talent with young talent.

Stanley Cup: Offseason moves send Sharks to final after missing playoffs

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Stanley Cup: Offseason moves send Sharks to final after missing playoffs

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- After watching the San Jose Sharks miss the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade, general manager Doug Wilson set out to remake the team last offseason.

Individually, none of the moves sent shockwaves through the NHL. The Sharks hired a coach who made the playoffs once in seven seasons as an NHL coach, traded a first-round pick for a goalie who had been a backup his entire career, added two playoff-tested veterans for depth at forward and defense and signed an unheralded Finnish rookie.

Together, the additions of Peter DeBoer, Martin Jones, Joel Ward, Paul Martin and Joonas Donskoi to a solid core that had underachieved proved to be the right mix to get the Sharks to their long-awaited first Stanley Cup Final appearance.

"I thought this team has a lot of the pieces of that puzzle," Martin said. "Doug did a great job bringing guys in that he did, to make that push for it. I don't think many people would have guessed that we'd be here right now, but I think we believed."

The players all said the disappointment of blowing a 3-0 series lead to Los Angeles in 2014 and then missing the playoffs entirely last season served as fuel for this season's success.

DeBoer also credited former coach Todd McLellan for helping put the foundation in place that he was able to capitalize on. The Sharks became the second team in the past 10 seasons to make it to the final after missing the playoffs the previous season, joining the 2011-12 Devils that pulled off the same trick in DeBoer's first season in New Jersey.

"Everyone was ready for something a little bit fresher and newer, not anything that much different," DeBoer said. "The additions that Doug made, it just came together. I inherited a similar team in New Jersey when I went in there. First time they missed the playoffs for a long time the year before I got there. I think when you go into that situation, when you have really good people like there was in New Jersey when I went in there, like I was with this group ... they're embarrassed by the year they just had, and they're willing to do and buy into whatever you're selling to get it fixed again. I think I was the benefactor of that."

The transition from McLellan to DeBoer wasn't seamless. As late as Jan. 8, the Sharks were in 13th place in the 14-team Western Conference and seemingly on the way to another missed postseason.

But with Logan Couture finally healthy after being slowed by a broken leg early in the season and the move by DeBoer to put Tomas Hertl on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, the Sharks rolled after that and made the playoffs as the third-place team in the Pacific Division.

In-season additions of players like depth forwards Dainius Zubrus and Nick Spaling, physical defenseman Roman Polak and backup goaltender James Reimer helped put the Sharks in the position they are now.

"With the new coaching staff we needed to realize how we needed to play to win," Thornton said. "Once that clicked, and that probably clicked maybe early December, I think after that, we just exploded. I think that's really when we saw the depth of this team. Everybody plays a big part."

That has been especially true in the playoffs when longtime core players like Thornton, Couture, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau got the support that had often been lacking during past postseason disappointments.

Jones has posted three shutouts in the playoffs, including the Game 7 second-round clincher against Nashville and back-to-back games in the conference final against St. Louis. He has proven more than capable of being an NHL starter after serving an apprenticeship as Jonathan Quick's backup in Los Angeles.

Ward scored two goals in each of the final two games of the conference final and has 11 points this postseason. Donskoi exceeded expectations just to make the team as a rookie and has solidified his spot on the second line with five goals and nine points.

Martin's steady play has allowed offensive-minded defenseman Brent Burns to roam at times and given San Jose a strong second defensive pair that had been missing in previous seasons.

Zubrus and Spaling played a big role as penalty killers and on the fourth line, while Polak has been one of the team's most physical players.

"Doug did a great job this summer, this season," Couture said. "A lot of credit needs to go to him for the guys he brought in."

Flyers defensive prospect Ivan Provorov named CHL Defenseman of the Year


Flyers defensive prospect Ivan Provorov named CHL Defenseman of the Year

Flyers prospect and Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman Ivan Provorov on Saturday afternoon was named the 2015-16 Canadian Hockey League's Defenseman of the Year.

Provorov, who the Flyers drafted with the seventh overall pick in 2015, recorded 21 markers, 73 points and was a plus-64 in 62 games with Brandon during the regular season.

The 19-year-old beat out Windsor's Mikhail Sergachev and Shawinigan's Samuel Girard for the honor. Both Sergachev and Girard are eligible for this year's draft, which is June 24-25 in Buffalo, New York.

In 21 playoff games with the Wheat Kings, Provorov added three goals and 10 assists. Brandon beat the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL Championship Series to capture the Ed Chynoweth Cup. However, in the Memorial Cup, Brandon lost to the Red Deer Rebels on May 25.

What's next for Provorov?

The defenseman will come to Flyers training camp in September with his eye on making the roster. Many believe Provorov is ready to make the jump to the NHL, but Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has built a reputation of being patient, especially with his defensive prospects.

Provorov is one of five prospects in the Flyers' system that has created excitement, joining Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg and Philippe Myers, an undrafted free-agent signing who made noise this season. Could Provorov — or any of the other prospects — join Shayne Gostisbehere on the Flyers' blue line in 2016-17?

After the Flyers' season ended with a playoff series loss to the Washington Capitals, Hextall hinted he'll continue to be patient with his prospects (see story).

“What we're building towards remains the same,” Hextall said after the season. “I'm not an impatient guy by nature. Maybe I was a little bit on the ice, but I've been off the ice for 17 years or whatever it is, so the whole thing that we started to build two years ago — our vision is the same and we're on a path.

“And we're a lot closer than we were two years ago."

But all eyes will be on Provorov come training camp. Can he force Hextall's hand?