Flyers Notes: Bryzgalov won't share preparation secret

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Flyers Notes: Bryzgalov won't share preparation secret

Ilya Bryzgalov has been the Flyers’ best, most consistent player through each of the nine games he’s played in 2013.

But if that’s got anything to do with the way he’s getting himself mentally prepared, we won’t be hearing about it.

“I can’t tell you,” Bryzgalov said after Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning (see story). “Because you wouldn’t believe me.”

Nonetheless, Bryzgalov was stellar yet again against the Lightning, stopping 21 of the 22 shots he faced, and keeping the Bolts silenced through almost 50 minutes of play. Bryzgalov was calm and focused through the entire game, coming up with key saves a few times against center Steven Stamkos, who has averaged a point a game against the Flyers in his career.

During a brief injury scare in the third period -- a collision with Lightning center Cory Conacher -- it was as if the air were sucked out of the Wells Fargo Center. Losing Bryzgalov would be a huge blow to an already injury-riddled team.

“It was my ankle,” Bryzgalov said. “It was hit and twisted. I felt sharp pains for a short amount of time and I had to stretch my ankle in my skates, but it was fine.”

It’s been a rocky start to the season for Bryzgalov, but not because of the way he’s played. He’s been the Cliff Lee of the Flyers, giving his team the chance to win but not getting any offensive support.

But if the Flyers can find a way to jump-start their goal scoring, Bryzgalov’s success will make them a much greater threat than they’ve been through 10 games this season.

“Bryz was solid again [Tuesday night],” Danny Briere said. “He looks comfortable, he looks in control. Nothing fazes him at this point. It’s good to see. I said this morning, if he keeps playing the same way, we’re going to be a dangerous team. And a game like tonight, a lot of offensive power on their side, and he more than did the job against them.”

‘I regret nothing’
Zac Rinaldo’s fight against Lightning winger B.J. Crombeen sent the game’s sellout crowd to its feet. The fans only got louder once they realized a perfectly landed punch had knocked Crombeen out cold.

Crombeen was kept out of the rest of the game as a precaution, but afterward hinted that maybe Rinaldo had continued to hit him well after he should have stopped, after he’d gone down to the ice.

According to Rinaldo, however, that’s not the case.

“I hit him 'til he was down,” Rinaldo said. “I’m not going to hit nobody, no matter who they are, or what they’ve done, I’ll never hit someone when they’re down. I’ll hit him 'til he’s down, I made sure he was down, and that was it.”

Wearing a hoodie pulled close over his eyes -- almost like a boxer might -- Rinaldo added he even checked in with referee Kelly Sutherland to make sure he stopped himself from needlessly pounding his opponent.

Sutherland said he had, according to Rinaldo. That’s a good thing, considering his mind was blank at the time.

“So many things are going through your mind when you’re fighting,” Rinaldo said. “It’s a fight! You ever been to a fight? It’s crazy. You don’t know what you’re thinking.”

Loose pucks
Claude Giroux was 18 for 25 (72 percent) on faceoffs Tuesday night. ... Rookie Tye McGinn led the team in shots with four.

Ron Hextall, Flyers know what they have in Nolan Patrick

Ron Hextall, Flyers know what they have in Nolan Patrick

CHICAGO — Ron Hextall had no idea which way New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero was leaning.

Would Shero take Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier with his No. 1 pick?

"I asked Ray 10 minutes before he picked and he wouldn't tell me," Hextall said. "I give him credit. That is what he should have done … I didn't have an expectation one way or the other."

Shero wanted a dynamic player to put bodies in the stands at Prudential Center. He chose Hischier.

That made it easy for Hextall at No. 2 to select Patrick (see story).

If rumors were true that Shero was scared off by Patrick's several injuries this past season at Brandon, well, the Flyers weren't.

"What I believe, we gather a lot of information," Hextall said. "There's some stuff out there you want to prove wrong and we did. We're comfortable with the injury part of it. He is a really good young man."

Patrick is a two-way player and a natural center. The Flyers have seven centers right now (see story), including Patrick, who is expected to play now. 

Hextall said he doesn't envision switching Patrick to the wing.

"I would rather have too many centers rather than five wingers on each side and no one to go in the middle," Hextall said.

Interesting that German Rubtsov, last year's top pick for the Flyers, has already been converted to a left winger since coming to North America to play junior.

Will Patrick be a No. 1 center as scouts project?

"Nolan has to answer that," Hextall said. "We see a kid with a big body, extremely high hockey sense, really good skill set. You get drafted today? The work starts now and Nolan has to put the work in.

"This is another level … this is the National Hockey League. In September, he comes to camp. He needs a big summer."

Ron Hextall on Flyers' logjam of centers: 'Someone has to play the wing'

Ron Hextall on Flyers' logjam of centers: 'Someone has to play the wing'

CHICAGO – The Flyers already have a familiar problem coming out of this NHL draft and heading training camp next fall: they’re too deep at center.
 
Friday night, they added three centers and traded another.
 
Brayden Schenn was sent to St. Louis for the Blues’ 27th pick in the first round, plus a conditional 2018 first-round pick and veteran utility center Jori Lehtera (see story).
 
General manager Ron Hextall wanted to trade back into the first round late and he did so by tabbing Morgan Frost at No. 27 with that Blues’ pick.
 
NHL Central Scouting had Frost ranked 31st among North American skaters. He is a 6-0, 170-pound forward from Aurora, Ontario.
 
He has raw speed and skill, but scouts say other parts of his game will need time to fill out. Frost had 20 goals and 62 points for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL this past season.
 
Friday’s other first-round pick, Nolan Patrick, is a natural centerman. Patrick is expected to play in the NHL this season. So right now, the Flyers’ centers are Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Valtteri Filppula, Mike Vecchione, plus Patrick and now Lehtera.
 
Lehtera had 30 goals and 100 points in 218 games with the Blues. He was both a first- and second-line center for the Blues this past season despite weak numbers — seven goals and 22 points in 64 games.
 
He is a decent playmaker and two-way player, who has centered Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko.
 
“He is utility guy with a well-rounded game and can play in the middle,” Hextall said. “We like the player. Gives coach more options.”
 
Best option: Lehtera can move to left wing if needed.
 
“Someone has to play the wing,” Hextall said. “He can play the wing. Our scouts have seen him play the wing, but he plays center most games. I am assuming he prefers center like most of them. Someone has to play wing.”
 
Schenn had improved every year he was with the Flyers, but too much of his scoring is on the power play and not five-on-five. He had 109 goals and 246 points in 424 career games for the Flyers.
 
This deal seems strange unless you consider the Flyers got another first-round pick (Frost) and a top-10 protected, conditional first-rounder next year. The Blues have the option to defer the 2018 first-rounder to 2019 but if they do so, the Flyers will also receive the Blues' 2020 third-round pick.
 
“It was a combination,” Hextall said of the advantages’ from the Flyers side. “It was one of those [trades] that came out of nowhere. Not like we were shopping Brayden.
 
“This deal came along and we really like the draft next year. We like the late pick this year and Jori. It made sense and we got a couple more young players.”
 
Young players like Frost, whom the Flyers are excited about.
 
“Our whole staff really liked the guy,” Hextall said. “He’s an extremely intelligent player, his No. 1 asset. Really smart. Reads the ice well. He has a very deft touch moving the puck.
 
“Good two-way player who showed up good in the testing. We believe he is a kid with a lot of upside. Good speed, but he dissects the game better than most players.”
 
Frost’s father Andy was the longtime former Toronto Maple Leafs PA announcer.
 
“I talked to them a couple times,” Frost said. “I’d say I had a bit of a gut feeling. I wasn’t too sure, but they took me and I’m super happy about it.
 
“I think first and foremost I’m a playmaker. I think I’m a high-skilled player that likes to use his vision and hockey sense to create plays. I’m working on becoming more of a two-way forward. That’s more of the player I want to become.”