It was an important rivalry game against good competition in a pressurized environment.
And the Flyers goaltender stood tall to prop up his team and also preserve the win.
However, the rarity wasn’t provided by franchise selection and HBO star Ilya Bryzgalov. It was the other Russian, Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 24 saves in Thursday night’s 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center.
With Bobrovsky’s confident outing, his second in a row after earning the 4-1 win in Dallas, the young goalie also handed coach Peter Laviolette some serious roster questions for the highly anticipated Winter Classic game against the New York Rangers on Monday at Citizens Bank Park.
If the Flyers wanted the best chance to win outdoors in front of the nation, they’d buck expectation and select Bobrovsky, the current steadier hand, as their choice between the pipes.
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The early season rivalry tour continues for the Flyers tonight as they take on the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time this season. And if you’re wondering if the Orange and Black are still unhappy about getting ejected from the postseason for the second year in a row by the Pens — just look at the lineup dressed for tonight.
After answering a multitude of media questions during his introductory press conference on Monday, Pronger had the room laughing, as he cracked jokes and oozed confidence, saying all the right things in the process.
“I’m very excited,” said Pronger, when asked what he felt about Philadelphia hockey. “The style that they play fits the way that I play. I felt it was a good fit and accept it with open arms.”
In an interview with Yahoo! Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov published Friday, Pittsburgh Penguins’ forward Ruslan Fedotenko admits that despite losing the first two games of the second-round series against the Washington Capitals, playing Philadelphia was much harder.
“The Capitals have a lot of skilled players,” said Fedotenko, who is a former Flyer. “They try to beat you one on one. They convert on almost all their chances, especially on power play. But I think that it was tougher to play against the Flyers, even if you cannot say so by [looking at the] score.”
Despite losing the series in six games, the Flyers pushed the Penguins to the brink. They let a late lead slip away in game two and watched a three-goal lead disappear in game six. The Flyers also failed to convert on eight power play chances in game four, in which they lost 3-1.
However, when asked the same question, forward Evgeni Malkin stated that Washington’s speed makes them tougher to face.
“Every round is getting more difficult,” said Malkin. “It is a long season and the fatigue is accumulated. And all games are every other day. And Washington is playing quicker than Philadelphia.”
With 14 seconds left in Friday’s 4-1 victory over the Los Angelas Kings, Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin took a nasty head shot at Kings’ rookie Wayne Simmonds. The hit wasn’t penalized, but the intent has undoubtedly been considered dirty .
The intent to injury by Malkin, with no time left on the clock and up three goals, has spurred the argument that if he does not see a suspension, the NHL may possibly be giving star treatment when it comes to discipline. But before you call for Flyers bias, here is what the Pittsburgh Post Gazette had to say.
“That is deserving of a suspension if you ask us. Malkin clearly went after the player’s head. Additionally, there was less than 10 seconds left in the game. If that’s a Flyer delivering a blow, the suspension is almost automatic. Malkin shouldn’t be exempt because he’s a star player. But the NHL has a game on NBC Sunday to worry about so don’t expect Colin Campbell and company to take any action on this.”
If Malkin is suspended, it won’t be before the NHL’s big Flyers-Penguins primetime match up on NBC on Sunday. And if the league does drop the faux one-game suspension hammer just to keep themselves honest on headshots, it could come as late as Monday. But there is no way, anti headshot crusade or not, that the NHL will keep him out of a nationally televised event.