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
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
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
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
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.