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Meltzer's Musings: Monday Results, Sunday Highlights, Bryzgalov

October 15, 2012, 7:27 AM ET [39 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
UPDATE 11:15 AM EST

The two KHL games involving Flyers players are now complete. They were the only Flyers-related games played today.

Ilya Bryzgalov turned back 30 of 31 shots for CSKA Moscow in a 4-1 road win over Salavat Yulaev Ufa. Bryzgalov took a shutout into the latter half of the third period.

Salavat finally scored a power play goal when Alexander Mirnov threw a side angle shot at the net as two Ufa players went to the net. Bryzgalov made the initial stop and deadened the puck in the crease but was a little too slow in covering it. Alexander Svitov jammed the puck in before Bryzgalov was able to get it covered with his glove.

Ruslan Fedotenko scored his first regulation goal of the season today in 2-1 loss for HC Donbass Donetsk to Avangard Omsk. With time ticking down below six minutes in the third period, Fedotenko cut a 2-0 deficit in half with an even strength tally against Karri Rämö. That was as close as Donbass got.

Fedotenko skated 18:10 of ice time and was 11-for-18 on faceoffs in the game. He now has three points (1G, 2A) and a shootout winner in 10 games for Donbass.

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6:30 AM EST

SUNDAY RESULTS AND HIGHLIGHTS


PHANTOMS BLANKED IN SPRINGFIELD

Not much went right for the Phantoms in their second game of the regular season, as the team dropped a 4-0 decision on the road against the Springfield Falcons. Curtis McElhinney earned a 31-save shutout for Springfield. The Phantoms went 0-for-7 on the power play, including four opportunities in the opening period.

Cal Heeter struggled in his AHL regular season debut, yielding a pair of somewhat questionable goals, while just 16 of 20 shots for the game. Five of the saves came in the final 4:35 of play when the game was already decided.

Zac Rinaldo was arguably the Phantoms most effective forward in the game, skating with a lot of energy and hustling up several scoring chances. Eric Wellwood and Andrew Johnston came the closest to scoring but were robbed by McElhinney.

After starring in the opening night victory over Portland, the line anchored by Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn was unable to get much going offensively in this game despite combining for seven shots on goal.

The Phantoms top defensive pairing of Erik Gustafsson and Marc-Andre Bourdon had a tough-luck opening weekend. They were on the ice for four of the seven goals the Phantoms yielded in the first two games. Neither player recorded a point in the first two games. Yesterday, Bourdon had his first fight of the young season, taking on Cody Bass.

Former Flyers prospect Michael Chaput was a thorn in the Phantoms' side all game. He had a running battle with Ben Holmstrom, and the two eventually dropped the gloves. Chaput also took a bit of a cheapshot at an unsuspecting Couturier with the stick late in the second period, drawing a cross-checking penalty and raising the ire of Adirondack. Brandon Manning was the first of several players to come to Couturier's defense. Couturier was fine, and did not miss a shift.

One of the Adirondack goal-scorers from the opening game, Harry Zolnierczyk was not quite as lucky. He took a puck up high to the mouth and/or nose. Harry Z left the ice in a hurry with a towel pressed to his bleeding face. He did not return to the game, but should be OK.

As the game entered the third period, Terry Murray shook up the line combinations in the hopes of getting some positives established before the end of game. Adirondack got a few scoring chances but was unable to get on the board.

The Phantoms do not play again until next weekend. They have Friday and Saturday games in St. John's against the IceCaps.


POLAR BEARS MAUL GRIZZLY ADAMS

In their first road game for Eisbären Berlin, Danny Briere and Claude Giroux played major roles in their team's 6-2 blowout of Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg.

Briere scored a hat trick, with one goal apiece in each of the three periods (the first and third via the power play). He also earned an assist. The goal that completed the hat trick was scored on the power play in the final minute of regulation.

Meanwhile, Giroux racked up three assists in the victory. He set up Briere's first two goals and drawing the secondary helper (Briere got the primary assist) on a Frank Hördler goal that made the score 5-2 in the third period.

In two games played to date, Briere has seven points (3G, 4A) and Giroux has six points (1 G, 5A). Eisbären returns to action on Friday when they host the Augsburg Panthers.

Highlights of yesterday's game are available here.


SESTITO GETS THE GORDIE

In his first home game in the UK's Elite Ice Hockey League, Tom Sesito notched a Gordie Howe Hat Trick for the Sheffield Steelers in a 2-1 win over the Belfast Giants. In the first period, he scored his second goal (PPG) in as many games. In the second period, he got the primary assist on what proved to be the game-winning goal. In the third period, Sestito had his first EIHL fight and got the instigator and a misconduct.

Sestito, who drew fire from fans in Fife (that's fun to say!) for a boarding penalty in his first road game, has become an instant fan favorite in Sheffield. According to the team's official site, sales of Sestito replica jerseys were brisk at yesterday's game, with over 50 of them sold in the stands in the game against Belfast. That may not sound like much in North America, but you have to remember that the EIHL struggles for attention in the U.K. and it is actually quite impressive by merchandize sale standards in that league.

In two games played to date, Sestito has two goals and 19 penalty minutes. Sheffield returns to action on Friday, when they host Cardiff.




SIMMONDS BACK ON THE SCORESHEET

After being held without a point in his previous game for Bundesliga club Eispiraten Crimmitschau, Wayne Simmonds drew an assist on the game-winning goal in yesterday's 3-1 win over ESV Kaufbeuren. Earlier in the game, he was whistled off for a cross-checking minor.

In seven games played to date, Simmonds has eight points (1G, 7A) and 33 penalty minutes. He has recorded points in five of the games. The Ice Pirates are off until Friday when they host the Dresden Ice Lions (Dresdner Eislöwen).


JUNIOR LEAGUE SUNDAY ROUNDUP

Neither Scott Laughton nor Colin Suellentrop got on the scoresheet tonight in the Oshawa Generals' 5-3 win over the London Knights. Both players took a minor penalty apiece in the game. However, Suellentrop was a plus-three on the night.

Oshawa's Boone Jenner scored a goal in the game to re-take sole possession of the Ontario Hockey League scoring lead. He had been tied with Flyers prospect Nick Cousins entering the day. Cousins went pointless yesterday in Sault Ste. Marie's 3-1 loss to Sarnia.

Oshawa is now off until Friday, when they visit the Kitchener Rangers. The Greyhounds' next game is on Wednesday, when the team hosts the Sudbury Wolves.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, in the Russian-dominated MHL junior league, defenseman Valeri Vasiliev did not post a point in MHC Spartak's 6-1 thrashing of Patriot Budapest yesterday. On Saturday, Spartak destroyed Patriot, 8-1.

For the season, Vasiliev has one assist, 20 PIM and a plus-one rating in 13 games played.
Today, Spartak travels from Hungary to the Czech Republic, where they will take on the Karlovy Vary Energie J20 team on Tuesday.

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WHY DID CSKA SIGN BRYZGALOV?

There has been a lot of overreaction by people to the fact that Ilya Bryzgalov has played sparingly -- and not particularly well -- thus far for CSKA. Heading into today, he has made just two starts, allowing 8 goals and stopping just 85.7 percent of the shots he's seen. A few of the goals came on plays where he either committed too early or had issues tracking the puck, which are common problems when he is not on top of his game.

However, everything needs to be placed in its proper context. It is not making excuses for Bryzgalov -- it is simply stating a fact -- to point out that the KHL teams have been playing for nearly two months including training camps and exhibition games. Bryzgalov did not have the benefit either of a formal camp (he took part in informal training sessions in Voorhees with other locked-out Flyers) or preseason games.

Moreover, it was going to be tough for him from the get-go to see all that much playing time for CSKA. Rastislav Stana is a very good KHL goalie and, while that's not the same as being a good NHL goaltender, it does mean that CSKA really has no need for Bryzgalov.

Look at it from the coach's perspective: He's going with the guy who has been winning games and on whom he has to count when the NHL lockout is over.

You may have noticed that teams around Europe have generally avoided signing NHL goalies thus far during the lockout. Most of the goalies who have signed -- Pekka Rinne, Ondrej Pavelec, Tuukka Rask, Semyon Varlamov -- have either had some struggles of their own or have not played in a game. Niklas Bäckström got injured before he could play. Antti Niemi has been very good in two SM-liiga starts to date.

In all cases, however, we're talking about a very small sampling size of games. In addition, goaltending performance and team defense are closely interrelated. Sooner or later, one is either going to elevate or drag down the other. That's hockey, no matter what league you're talking about.

At the time CSKA signed Bryzgalov, many followers of the team questioned why he was even needed when the team already has former NHL goalie Stana. It was cynically suggested that Bryzgalov was brought in as much for publicity reasons -- CSKA got international press coverage via Reuters for their big introductory press conference with Pavel Datsyuk and Bryz -- as for any potential hockey benefits.

As of now, it appears that Bryzgalov will get regular playing time only if Stana gets injured or falters. Otherwise, I suspect he'll mostly play when the team has a tightly packed schedule, especially when it faces games on back-to-back days. Bryzgalov will get the start in today's game against Salavat. After today's game, CSKA plays again on Wednesday and Friday.

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