GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After being crunched on the boards by Raffi Torres with just 19 seconds to go in the Flyers’ romping of the Coyotes, Andrej Meszaros was writhing in pain.
Meszaros, the Flyers’ defending Barry Ashbee Trophy winner as top defenseman, left the ice and headed directly for the dressing room.
It was a tough hit for Meszaros to take with his team up by 2 goals in a game that ended nearly 2 full periods earlier. And already without Chris Pronger and Andreas Lilja, an injury to Meszaros would be just what the Flyers need at this point in the season.
Meszaros appeared to be favoring his right shoulder, which was the point of impact on the end wall in the Flyers’ zone behind Ilya Bryzgalov, as he was hunched over on the ice.
According to general manager Paul Holmgren, the Flyers do not believe Meszaros’ injury is “anything serious.” He will be examined by a team doctor on Sunday. The Flyers were not scheduled to arrive back in Philadelphia until 4:07 a.m. on Sunday after wrapping up in Phoenix late Saturday night.
Still, the Flyers will await news on Meszaros with baited breath.
Meszaros, 26, has had shoulder issues before in his career. He underwent surgery for a torn labrum in his left shoulder in March, 2009, while he was still with the Lightning. He missed nearly 6 months. Meszaros still wears a tight brace under his shoulder pads for added support.
On Saturday, veteran Matt Walker was a healthy scratch. He would be the Flyers' insurance policy should Meszaros be forced to miss any time.
We will follow up with more news when we hear it.
BRYZ-NASTY: Even though it was against his former team - and he admitted that he wanted to play beforehand - Ilya Bryzgalov said he did not go to coach Peter Laviolette to start against his former team in the desert.
“We have a head coach who decides what to do with the goalies,” Bryzgalov explained. “I can’t go and say ‘I want to play next couple games.’ I just can’t do it. He’s the boss, he makes the decisions.”
It’s a good thing for Laviolette - and the Flyers - that he decided to stick with Bryzgalov on Saturday night, as he helped carry them to a 4-2 win over the Desert Dogs. No matter that the game started exactly 22 hours, the league-minimum for spacing between back-to-back games, for Bryzgalov.
Bryzgalov stopped 36 of 38 shots (94.7 percent) and that number would have been higher if Mikkel Boedker didn’t re-direct a shot past him with 41 seconds left in a meaningless game. It may have been one of Bryzgalov’s best outings of the season.
It was the first time Laviolette had decided to start Bryzgalov in back-to-back game this season. Last year, Bryzgalov was 3-4-0 with an .883 save percentage in the second end of back-to-back games last year with Phoenix.
If there is one thing we have learned about Bryzgalov since he arrived in Philadelphia last June, it’s that he plays at his best when he is mentally focused and motivated.
Just walking into Jobing.com Arena on Saturday gave him a special feeling. He said he did “lots of good things” for both the Coyotes and the Phoenix-area.
“I was walking in the building and I can’t explain what I felt, but ... it’s something,” Bryzgalov said. “I played here three and a half years, winning lots of games and losing lots of games. Part of my soul was left here.”
Laviolette, who said Bryzgalov was scheduled to start that game, liked what he saw from his goaltender.
“He was really sharp,” Laviolette said. “There wasn’t a lot for him in the first period, but in the second and third, once the score was in our favor, we got a little sloppy and he had to make some big saves.”
When he is focused and excited (see: Oct. 6 at Boston, Oct. 8 at New Jersey, Nov. 17 vs. Phoenix and Saturday), Bryzgalov almost seems more agile and better prepared for shots. He is constantly reacting to play behind the net and seems to be more active playing pucks for his defensemen.
Bryzgalov, for one, said the extra mental motivation for playing against Phoenix didn’t factor into the decision. But his words about mental preparation seemed to confirm an already apparent thought.
“It’s not a big difference between any other games, like last night,” Bryzgalov said. “Sometimes you just need to bring your head, put your mind in the right direction.”
(Side note: The inspiration for this heading, Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette [easily the league's most entertaining follow on Twitter @BizNasty2Point0] was scratched against the Flyers on Saturday night. How disappointing!)
TRIVIA: The Flyers’ last win in Phoenix was Oct. 18, 2003. But was it at the current Jobing.com Arena in Glendale or the now-US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix?
TWO YEARS AGO: Exactly two years ago today, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was hired on Dec. 4, 2009. He brought with him assistant coach Kevin McCarthy and guided the Flyers to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.
Coincidentally, on this day in 1985, the same Kevin McCarthy was demoted from the Flyers to the Hershey Bears. After skating in 535 career NHL games, McCarthy would play just 2 more in the league following that demotion.
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers