In a season filled with average-at-best play from their $51-million franchise goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, the horrid 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night may be the low point.
And that’s saying something.
Bryzgalov allowed five goals on 16 shots, made just 11 saves and provided little help to his team which carried play throughout. He posted a .688 save percentage and was thoroughly outplayed by Lightning backup Mathieu Garon. Bryzgalov’s positioning was poor, his rebound control was questionable and most of all, his ability to keep the Flyers in the game was non-existent.
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When the Tampa Bay Lightning’s season abruptly ended on May 27, the clock representing Simon Gagne’s remaining time in Florida began to tick down.
With the July 1 unrestricted free agent deadline approaching and the high-priced, oft-injured winger concluding a deal that paid him over $26 million in five years, Gagne, 31, could be looking at a new home or possibly even an old one.
“Gagne, I’d say slim,” said Lightning beat reporter Erik Erlendsson on Twitter, when asked the chances of the player’s return to Tampa.
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On Nov. 7, 2008, forward Steve Downie was shipped out of Philadelphia in a box labeled ‘lost cause.’
The Flyers groomed the 2005 first-round pick for three years, until they simply had enough. He took too many penalties, earned one too many suspensions and appeared as if he would never be able to ride the fence of tactful aggression and being a barbarian.
That was all true, until he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who transformed the young but chaotic talent into a player.
“He’s made a conscious effort to do that,” Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman told the Windsor Star with regards to Downie controlling himself. “We want to reassure to him that he is a good player and his play in the playoffs is showing that. He’s got great hockey sense, he’s got good skills and he sees the ice very well. We want him on the ice, we don’t want him in the penalty box. We try to encourage him to do that and I think he understands that.”
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie on Thursday, the Flyers have placed 30-year-old defenseman Matt Walker on waivers. If he clears, Walker is expected to join the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL.
Walker, acquired in the offseason from the Tampa Bay Lightning as the key return in the Simon Gagne trade, was set to make $1.7 million per season for the next three years. The move could act as a precursor for a roster addition, as Walker’s cap space, matched with the space received from waived goaltender Michael Leighton, gives the Flyers around $3 million of free space.
Joining the Flyers prior to training camp, Walker was hampered with hip injuries which began toward the end of the preseason. The tough blue liner with a right-handed shot needed two separate surgeries on both the left and right hip, which kept him out of the line up for much of the season. Walker played his first game of the year on Jan.18, then played three more after that, before the return of Chris Pronger forced Walker back into a depth position.
Poor Matt Walker.
Nearly two months since having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip, the Flyers defenseman now needs left hip surgery and is expected to miss a minimum of six weeks.
Walker, 30, was participating in a conditioning stint with the Adirondack Phantoms on Sunday before the Flyers, on Monday, unexpectedly placed the seven-year veteran on injured reserve.
Acquired in the trade that sent forward Simon Gagne to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Walker, who hurt his hip in the preseason and underwent surgery on Oct. 20, has yet to play a game with the Flyers.
The Tampa Bay Lightning wanted nothing more than to take home a win in Philadelphia for former Flyers and current Lightning forward Simon Gagne.
It’s safe to say Gagne left his old hometown happy.
Pavel Kubina’s goal early in the third period would serve as the game-winner, as Tampa Bay handed Philadelphia it’s first regulation loss of the season, 3-2, Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
On Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center, the typically hateful Philadelphia crowd stood and provided a loud and emotional cheer for former Flyer and now Tampa Bay Lightning forward Simon Gagne, who made his first return to the city he played in for 10 seasons.
The tribute video, thanks to The 700 Level.
The video debuted during a TV timeout in the first period and was followed by a standing ovation and curtain call by Gagne.
With sadness but understanding, the wait is mercifully over — the Flyers have officially traded forward Simon Gagne to the Tampa Bay Lightning for defenseman Matt Walker and a fourth round pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft.
According to TSN, the Flyers have acquired Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Andrej Meszaros for a second round pick in the 2012 NHL entry draft.
Coming off an impressive 6-1 performance against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday afternoon, the Flyers (6-4-1) face another struggling Southeast division team. The Tampa Bay Lightning (4-3-4) visit the Wachovia Center on Monday, in what is the first meeting of the season between the two squads. The game will be played at the odd game time of 5:00 P.M., due to the World Series.