Flyers-Oilers Preview

Beating the Edmonton Oilers at home last month sparked the

Philadelphia Flyers’ turnaround there.

They’re looking to do the same on the road, but they may have to

beat a familiar face.

The Flyers will try to capitalize on another meeting with the

Oilers in the opener of this six-game road trip Saturday night, but

they’ll likely have to beat Ilya Bryzgalov.

Philadelphia (17-16-4) defeated Edmonton 4-2 on Nov. 9, touching

off a nine-game home winning streak after dropping seven of the

first nine there.

The home streak continued with Monday’s 4-1 win over Minnesota,

but the Flyers haven’t been nearly that successful on the road.

They’re 2-6-3 over their past 11 away games, including five

losses in a row.

Philadelphia hasn’t endured a longer skid as the visitor since

dropping its final seven games on the road in 2006-07.

The Flyers are well aware of the importance of this trip after

they went 2-3-1 on an earlier trek which ended with a 7-2 loss in

Chicago on Dec. 11.

“If we lay an egg (on this trip) we’re going to shoot ourselves

in the foot,” Scott Hartnell told the team’s official website. “We

had a lot of home games the first month an got off to a poor start,

but we’ve gotten back to where we want to go at this point.

“But, if we let that slide on this road trip we’re going to be

scratching ourselves in April looking back wondering what went

wrong, and we can look at this road trip saying it’s the turning

point.”

Starting the trip on a positive note could be key, but the

Flyers haven’t won at Edmonton since March 19, 2001, losing three

in a row and tying another visit.

They’re also expected to contend with Bryzgalov, who had his

contract with Philadelphia bought out before the start of the

season and was called a “costly mistake” by general manager Paul

Holmgren.

Bryzgalov was two seasons into a $51 million, nine-year contract

that was supposed to solve the Flyers’ goaltending woes. He went

52-33-10 with a 2.60 goals-against average in 99 games, but they

failed to reach the playoffs last season.

Now, they’ll face him for the first time since his release, and

he’s 2-4-0 with a 2.80 GAA and one shutout in eight games with the

Oilers (13-24-3).

Bryzgalov helped Edmonton to a 6-2 home win over Winnipeg on

Monday, making 18 saves to after losing three straight starts in

his return from a head and neck injury.

Flyers coach Craig Berube doesn’t want the possibility of facing

Bryzgalov to become a distraction.

“Our team needs to not worry about who is in net, they need to

worry about their game – that’s it,” he said. “If they don’t do

that, we’re not going to be successful. That’s the kind of stuff

I’m talking about. You need to think properly and get your head

right.”

The Oilers seem to be doing that as they returned from the

Christmas break with a 2-0 win at Calgary behind a pair of goals

from Ryan Smyth.

“We’re a team that’s going to fight and claw and try and get

ourselves bumping up in the standings, one game at a time,” Smyth

said after ending his 13-game goal drought.

Taylor Hall has one goal in each of his two career meetings with

Philadelphia, including one last month. The left wing has seven

goals and eight assists over his past 10 home games, getting three

points against the Jets.