EDMONTON, Alberta _ Talk about good theater....
Colorful goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who has played eight games with Edmonton, will face his former Flyers teammates tonight at Rexall Place.
“Obviously, he’s going to be pretty motivated to face his old team,” Flyers center Sean Couturier said after Saturday’s morning skate, “and it’ll be a good challenge.”
But won’t the Flyers also be motivated to face a player who was a locker-room distraction?
“Not really,” Couturier said. “It’s just another game. I mean, whoever is in net, we just have to focus on getting our job done and getting two points. We have to have the same game plan _ get pucks on net, and drive the net and get chances that way.”
Bryzgalov, whose off-the-wall personality made him a celebrity of sorts during HBO's 24/7 a few years ago, is 2-4 with two no-decisions and has a 2.80 AA and .915 save percentage. He will oppose Steve Mason, who is 14-9-4 with a 2.35 GAA and .923 save percentage.
Flyers coach Craig Berube downplayed the matchup against Bryzgalov.
"It’s just like any other goalie,” he said. “He played here for us and stuff, but we’re just going to focus on him like he’s any other goalie, and I don’t think there’s anything else to it, to be honest with you.”
Bryzgalov took part in the Oilers’ optional skate Saturday morning, but, as is the case with many goalies on game day, was not available to the media.
Downie returns. After missing two games with an upper-body injury, winger Steve Downie will return to the lineup Saturday. He is expected to be on the fourth line with center Adam Hall and winger Zac Rinaldo.
“I’m excited to get going here,” Downie said.
“Steve brings an element of skill and grit,” Berube said. “He’s effective in a lot of different areas, so it’s nice to have him back.”
Hall had the flu and missed Friday’s practice, but he is now healthy and will play Saturday, Berube said.
Breakaways. The Flyers are starting a six-game road trip; they have lost their last five games (0-3-2) on the road……The Flyers are 0-3-1 in Edmonton since their last win here in 2001…..Edmonton winger Nail Yakupov is minus-25 …..Jake Voracek has an eight-game points streak and Claude Giroux has a seven-game points streak; both are career highs.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.