Even though he knew it would pretty much be this way, it's been a difficult time for Sergei Bobrovsky to sit and watch while Ilya Bryzgalov has gotten the bulk of the starts this season. Tuesday night was just his 13th starting assignment in game number 41 for the Flyers.
There are 51.5 million reasons why Bobrovsky isn't starting regularly. Peter Laviolette continues to try and get Bryzgalov in some type of comfortable rhythm, in hopes he will give the team the consistency expected when Paul Holmgren dealt for and signed the former Coyote standout.
Last season's starter was once again provided the team with an extremely solid performance Tuesday. Facing Cam Ward and the Carolina Hurricanes, Bobrovsky looked very much the same as he did early on last season. He made tough stops on Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty in the game's first minute, setting the tone for the rest of the night.Bob gave up a second period goal to Jerome Samson, but not until after making two big saves before Samson drilled the second rebound home. He had stopped big blasts by both Staal and Justin Faulk in quick succession, but controlling either proved impossible. Samson was johnny on the spot, finding the puck on his stick and half of the net with which to shoot to Bobrovsky's right.
He had been his usual "Sponge Bob" up to that point, absorbing each Carolina shot and holding on for the stoppage, and he did much the same following the goal.
In the end, Bobrovsky stopped 35 of 36 shots in leading the Flyers to a hard-fought 2-1 win, improving his record to 9-3-1 for the year. His 2.45 goals-average and .919 save percentage are excellent, and depending on how the team fares with Bryzgalov in the net moving forward, Bob could see more playing time.
The Kids Get Offensive
In the wake of the recent groin injury suffered by Jaromir Jagr and the slump of the top scoring line, the continued goal support of the Flyers' rookies has been not only welcomed, but downright necessary.
While the trio of Claude Giroux, Jagr, and Scott Hartnell were shut out for a third consecutive game, the club's youngsters shrugged off the added responsibilities and came through when it mattered the most. Brayden Schenn scored on a rebound of a Wayne Simmonds shot early in the second period, and Sean Couturier picked the far corner on Ward early in the third for the game-winning goal. Harry Zolnierczyk assisted on the winning tally, as Philly rookies combined for three more points in the triumph.
After failing to register a single point in his first eight games of the year while battling injuries, Schenn now has posted points in three of the last five games, scoring two goals along the way. He is delivering confirmation of the promise that had everyone in the organization salivating over his potential.
Couturier goals in two straight contests and has points in three of the last four games. After a long lull in scoring, he has points in four of the six games he's played in after returning from a concussion suffered when he was hit in the head with a Kimmo Timonen slap shot on December 17 during a game against the Boston Bruins. Adding offensive output to the defensive awareness that goes well beyond his 19 years, the eighth-overall pick in this past summer's draft will become an even more important contributor over the course of the second half and into the postseason.
Answers to Today's Questions to Answer
1. How's Sergei Bobrovsky in goal?
Absolutely excellent. Made all the saves expected of him, along with a few others. Bob's been so reliable each time he's gotten the call, which has been invaluable for the confidence of the Orange-and-Black.
2. Two straight games without a point for the Giroux line. Back on the board tonight?
Once again the line looked out of sync. Giroux had a partial breakaway off the opening faceoff for their best scoring chance of the night, but it seemed almost every single pass was hitting off a Carolina player's stick. Jagr may have come back too early from his groin injury, and didn't finish out the game. Wondering if he'll be out again after tonight's victory. In the last three games Giroux has looked nothing like the player that was so dominant just about every night prior to the Winter Classic.
3. Are the Flyers better in controlling the puck and making smart decisions tonight?
For the most part, yes. There were still some questionable decisions, especially in the game's final two minutes while nursing a one-goal lead.
4. Hey, if they get a lead, can they hold onto it for once?
The Flyers got the lead early in the second period and allowed the tying goal eight minutes later on the power play, but Bobrovsky's confident play was the backbone for the team to go out and get the lead goal. Bob made that one stand up in the end.
The Post of the Night comes to you via Megadelphia, who very accurately described the Flyers' struggling power play so much better than anything PECO has been boasting about: