Don’t blame Ilya Bryzgalov.
Returning from a chip fracture in his right foot, and still walking with a bit of a limp, the Flyers’ goalie took a 5-3 loss last night to those pesky New York Rangers. He made 19 saves, but the final wasn’t all his fault.
With the playoffs approaching, it looked like Bryzgalov’s defense — not the goalie himself — could use a tuneup. The Russian was coming off a month where he was named the No. 1 star, had a 10-2-1 record, a 1.43 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage. After missing three games due to injury, Bryzgalov needed some work.
“You want to get him some reps and some games before the playoffs,” Matt Carle said. “There’s only so much you can do in practice to simulate a game atmosphere and obviously him getting that level of conditioning for a game.”
The Rangers did just that, with five goals, three on the power play. Two of the goals came on rebounds where Bryzgalov made the initial save. Final result aside, the work for the 31-year-old netminder actually wasn’t so bad.
“It’s always good to be sharp going into the playoffs and you want to make sure he’s battle-tested, I think,” Braydon Coburn said. “When the playoffs roll around, it’s a different animal.”
The Flyers just hope that the Rangers aren’t in the cards for them in the playoffs. With the win, the Rangers swept the season series, taking all six games from the Flyers.
“This team has had our number and it’s been frustrating,” Scott Hartnell said. “Good games, but we’ve been on the losing side of every one. We’ll probably see them if he keep advancing.”
Briere: ‘He was trying to hurt me’
He popped right back up, but Danny Briere knew something wasn’t right.
He got creamed by Pittsburgh’s Joe Vitale in an open ice hit and hours later he had back spasms. Now, he knows he won’t play again until the start of the playoffs — if that.
“It was a clean hit, but obviously he knew what he was doing,” Briere said. “He was obviously trying to hurt me. We all know that.”
The Flyers list Briere out indefinitely with an upper-back contusion. He knows the final two regular-season games are out of the question. At this point, he’s only hoping he can come back for Game 1 of the playoffs, which will likely be against the Penguins.
“We’re fortunate enough to be in the playoffs and that’s what I’m concentrating on,” Briere said. “I’m trying to do everything in my power to be ready. Hopefully Game 1, but if not, at some point in the playoffs.”
Matt Read took Briere’s place, centering a line with Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.