Saturday, December 27, 2014

Briere, Read trying to snap slumps as Flyers face Flames

CALGARY, Alberta - Danny Briere and Matt Read will try to end long scoring slumps, and goalie Ilya Bryzglaov will attempt to continue his dominance of Calgary when the Flyers visit the Flames on Saturday night.

Briere, Read trying to snap slumps as Flyers face Flames

Danny Briere has not scored a goal in his last 15 games. (Matt Slocum/AP Photo)
Danny Briere has not scored a goal in his last 15 games. (Matt Slocum/AP Photo)

CALGARY, Alberta - Danny Briere and Matt Read will try to end long scoring slumps, and goalie Ilya Bryzglaov will attempt to continue his dominance of Calgary when the Flyers visit the Flames on Saturday night.

The newly formed top line of Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds has been leading the way, "but besides that, it’s been slim pickings," said Briere, who did set up Jaromir Jagr's game-winner in Winnipeg on Tuesday. "We’re all trying to find ways to score more goals."

Briere is goal-less in his last 15 games - his longest drought since 1998-99 - and Read has just one goal in his last 14 games. Despite the slump, Read is tied for the NHL rookie lead with 16 goals.

Lately, Briere has been centering Read and Jagr. Jagr had been on the top line, with Giroux and Hartnell, until he returned from missing the Feb. 16 game against Buffalo because of the flu.

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Coach Peter Laviolette said he wanted to ease Jagr back into the lineup because he was coming off an illness and a groin injury.

"To jump in there and play 20 minutes" would have been difficult, Laviolette said. "...To put him with Danny, maybe there is a chance they can get going."

In his last three games on Briere's line, Jagr has averaged 15-plus minutes a game. He has three goals in that span.

Jagr enjoys playing on Briere's line, saying he has had lots of scoring chances. But he does like the increased playing time he receives on Giroux's unit.

"I'm not complaining....but you don't know when it's going to be your next shift," he said of playing on the second unit. "That's why I try to shoot a little more, so I have a chance to score."

Jagr enters Saturday with 1,641 career points, and he is tied for eighth in NHL history with Joe Sakic.

"No matter who I play with, I want to be the best on the ice," Jagr said.

Jagr had developed a great chemistry with Giroux and Hartnell.

"When you play with new guys, shift after shift you have to talk," he said. "When I played with G and Hartsy, we weren't on the same page (at first), but we learned how to play together and knew where we would be. But when you change lines, you have to do it again. You have to look for the edge, and I think this is the edge _ knowing where the guys are going to be, and what he's doing and what's his strength and his weakness. And you use that."

* * *

While with Phoenix, Bryzgalov won his last six starts against Calgary and had a 1.81 GAA in those games.

The Flyers are trying to rebound from Thursday's 2-0 loss to Edmonton, which scored a 6-1 win over Calgary earlier in the week.

"The second period was really tough on us," Laviolette said. "We got outplayed in a lot of areas and we have to do better."

 The Flyers (73 points) have lost seven of their last 10 games and are tied with the Penguins for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

Calgary (66 points) is tied for ninth in the West. The Flames have picked up points in nine of their last 10 games (5-1-4) to climb into playoff contention.

In their last two games, the Flyers have allowed four goals in their opponents’ five power-play chances.

* * *

Rookie center Sean Couturier, who missed Thursday's loss in Edmonton with a lower-body injury, is expected to return to the lineup Saturday.

Couturier said he suffered a bruise when he fell to the ice in Tuesday's OT win in Winnipeg.

After Saturday's morning skate, Couturier said he was ready to play. He said he could have played Thursday but was held out of the lineup for precautionary reasons.

   Breakaways. Bryzgalov will make his fifth straight start, his longest streak since he was used in six consecutive games from Dec. 2-13 and went 6-0…..Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek played in their 300th NHL games Thursday. Simmonds has nine goals in 11 February games…..Couturier is goal-less in his last 15 games….After Saturday, the Flyers conclude their four-game trip in San Jose on Tuesday…..Ed Snider, chairman of the Flyers’ parent company, Comcast-Spectacor, will join NHL  Commissioner Gary Bettman, and other hockey executives at the Congressional hockey caucus in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Hosted by Pennsylvania Representative Patrick Meehan, the caucus will focus on the positive impact of community-based hockey programs, such as the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.

Sam Carchidi Inquirer Staff Writer
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