Saturday, September 5, 2015

Bryzgalov hot, Flyers not

NEW YORK - Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is playing like an all-star, like the Vezina runnerup who carried the Phoenix Coyotes a few years ago.

Bryzgalov hot, Flyers not

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Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is playing like an all-star, like the Vezina runnerup who carried the Phoenix Coyotes a few years ago. (Kathy Willens/AP)
Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is playing like an all-star, like the Vezina runnerup who carried the Phoenix Coyotes a few years ago. (Kathy Willens/AP)

NEW YORK - Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is playing like an all-star, like the Vezina runnerup who carried the Phoenix Coyotes a few years ago.

Yet, the Flyers have wasted his strong start. They are 2-5 because their offense is, well, offensive.

The Flyers have scored a total of five goals in their five losses.

Five.

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Bryzgalov has a 2-4 record despite a 2.19 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage.

“I guarantee if Bryz keeps playing the same way, we’ll be in really good shape,” forward Danny Briere said after Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers, “because at some point, we’re going to start scoring some goals.”

To do that, Peter Laviolette may have to shake up the lines. Even then, this offense will scuffle because Scott Hartnell is injured, and Jaromir Jagr and James van Riemsdyk are no longer here.

Seven games into the season, several Flyers are struggling, including Max Talbot, Brayden Schenn and Jake Voracek, players who have combined for one goal.

In Tuesday’s loss, the top line of Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read managed just three shots _ or seven fewer than Briere, who equaled a career high with 10 shots but was denied by Henrik Lundqvist.

A lineup shakeup may be in the works for Friday in Washington. Maybe Briere will be moved onto a line with Giroux. Or maybe coach Peter Laviolette reunites Briere, Simmonds and Schenn. That trio excelled in last year’s playoffs.

Perhaps its time to experiment with Tye McGinn (a healthy scratch Tuesday), a big-body left winger who may be able to open things up for Giroux, who clearly misses Jagr. A line of McGinn, Giroux and  Voracek might be worth a look.

There aren’t a lot of options, other than bringing speedy winger Eric Wellwood back from the Phantoms.

Will GM Paul Holmgren remain patient and wait for Hartnell’s return in four or five weeks? Or will he pull the trigger and try to make a deal for a sniper like Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan?

The next two weeks may provide the answer. Holmgren doesn’t figure to wait too long because he doesn’t have that luxury in a 48-game season.

Building block? Several Flyers said they can build off a Tuesday’s strong third period, a stanza in which they were constantly in the Rangers’ end. The Flyers play in Washington Friday and host Carolina on Saturday.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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