Ilya Bryzgalov, the best goalie in the universe over the last month, won’t be able to play Thursday in Toronto because of a chip fracture in his right foot.
The Flyers are unfazed.
“From what I’ve been hearing, it’s nothing too major, so maybe see it as a little break before the playoffs start,” center Danny Briere said after Wednesday’s practice in Voorhees. “…Maybe I’m naïve, but I just don’t think it’s too bad.”
Bryzgalov was injured during pregame warm-ups Monday, but played in the Flyers’ 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay. General manager Paul Holmgren said he is hoping Bryzgalov can practice Friday and play this weekend. The goalie rode an exercise bike at the Flyers’ practice facility Wednesday but was not available to speak with reporters.
Sergei Bobrovsky (12-9-1, 3.03 goals-against average, .899 save percentage) will start in Toronto Thursday; it will be just his second start in the last 21 games. Bobrovsky was the Flyers’ primary starter as a rookie last season.
“Bob has been a terrific soldier all year, waiting to get in there,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “Now he has an opportunity.”
In March, Bryzgalov is 10-2-1 with a 1.43 goals-against average and .947 save percentage.
“Obviously you want him in the lineup…but the way we’ve been playing as a team, defensively, _ and everybody’s confident in Bob _ I don’t think we’ll skip a beat here,” defenseman Matt Carle said.
“A little nick” is how smiling winger Jaromir Jagr described Bryzgalov’s injury.
Bobrovsky, who declined talking to reporters, will make his first start since a 4-1 loss in New Jersey on March 11.
“We have the luxury of having an excellent backup goalie, probably one of the best in the NHL,” said Briere, though Bobrovsky’s stats contradict that statement. “He would be a No. 1 on most teams ... It’s a chance for him to come in and play some games and give Bryz a little rest before the playoffs.”
Bryzgalov “has been playing so well, and hopefully he keeps that run going” when he returns,” Briere said. “Obviously, for us to be successful, we’ll definitely need him to get back and keep that same level when the playoffs are here.”
It’s important, Carle said, for Bryzgalov to play at least a few of the remaining six regular-season games.
“He needs reps as well,” he said. “There’s nothing you can do in practice to simulate a game; there’s only so many drills you can do. You want him to be rolling on all cylinders, and for him to do that, he’s got to be playing.”
The Flyers are trying to sweep the four-game series against Toronto. In their last meeting, Bryzgalov blanked the Maple Leafs, 1-0, in a shootout March 10 in Toronto.
“We want home-ice advantage, and it’s still there,” center Claude Giroux said. “We’ve got to make sure we don’t let those points get away, like last game, and make sure we get ready for these games.”
The Flyers are coming off a 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay, which, like Toronto, will not make the playoffs.
“We have to find a way to motivate ourselves and get those points,” Giroux said.
Laviolette downplayed Bryzgalov’s absence.
“I’d rather talk about the players available and what we’re going to do in Toronto, as opposed to the ‘woe us’ or try to ‘win one for the Gipper’ speech,” he said. “We stay away from that crap and focus on what we can do.”
Bourdon is back
Defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon, who hasn’t played for the Flyers since his five-giveaway performance in a 6-4 loss to Pittsburgh on Feb. 18, joined the team after being recalled from Adirondack. After being sent to the Phantoms last month, Bourdon missed about a month because of a concussion, which may have been suffered while with the Flyers.
Bourdon will likely be paired with Carle Thursday, provided Andreas Lilja cannot play because of an upper-body injury. Kimmo Timonen will miss the game with a back problem.
Giroux (maintenance) and Nick Grossmann (visa issue) missed practice but will play Thursday; Lilja also missed practice…..In their last two losses, the Flyers have outshot Florida and Tampa Bay by a combined 74-28….The Flyers have fallen into 2-0 holes in four of their last six games. They are 1-2-1 in those four games.
Contact Sam Carchidi at email@example.com or on Twitter @BroadStBull.