After suffering a chipped bone fracture in his right foot on Monday against Tampa Bay, starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was forced to miss Thursday’s game against the Maple Leafs. Sergei Bobrovsky was given only his second start in the past 6 weeks tonight, and the sophomore sure made it count as Philly rocked Toronto, 7-1.
The Flyers (45-24-8) faced a recently struggling Toronto Maple Leafs lineup; they have lost 10 out of their 14 games in the month of March. The Maple Leafs have yet to win with their new head coach at home, and are on an 11-game home skid.
A scary moment occurred for the Leafs when projected starting goalie Jonas Gustavsson took a shot to the knee, and Jussi Rynnas was given the nod. Since Jonas didn’t return until the end of the second period, they were forced to look around for a junior goalie in the area with no ties to the team.
Flyers rookie Brayden Schenn managed to find the back of the net just 5 minutes and 34 seconds into the game, giving his team a 1-0 lead. Just 6 minutes later, Danny Briere stormed up the ice with Schenn, as Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf faced them on a 2-on-1. Phaneuf made no attempt to stop the puck or do anything for that matter, as Danny passed the puck beautifully across the crease and Schenn lit the red lamp for the second time. The two are Schenn’s 10th and 11th on the season respectively, tying him for 10th among all rookies.
Mikhail Grabovski would go on to score the only goal of the game for Toronto later in the period.
It truly was a night of the rookies tonight as they accounted for 6 points. Schenn had 2 goals, Matt Read had a goal and an assist, Eric Wellwood had a goal, and Erik Gustafsson had an assist. The Flyers lead the NHL with rookie goals (59), showing how bright their future and their present are.
Chants of “Lets Go Blue Jays!” were heard throughout the Air Canada Centre as the end of the second period approached, and continued in the third. Clearly Toronto’s fans are fraught with embarrassment as the Maple Leafs have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967 and have not even been in the playoffs since before the 2004 lockout.
To add injury to insult, Phaneuf was an embarrassment to his team. He continued to trash talk and take unnecessary hits when they were down by a score of 7-1. He has become an extremely classless player within his organization. I understand that he is trying to pump his teammates, but his team was down big as it was.
Wayne Simmonds and Danny Briere each had excellent games as well, with Simmonds recording two goals and an assist with Briere dishing out four of his own assists. Hopefully this is a sign that the two are out of their recent slumps and hot as they enter the playoffs. Bobrovsky also stopped 16 of 17 shots he faced, for a .941 save percentage.
This win brings the Flyers to within 2 points of the Pittsburgh Penguins as the Penguins were swept in a home-and-home series by the New York Islanders.
This weekend should be very interesting for all Flyers fans as they will face the Senators on Saturday afternoon, and then on Sunday face the Penguins at 12:30 as a part of NBC’s Game of the Week. Its obvious that the Orange and Black have struggled with matinee showdowns this season, but they have two games this weekend to change that.
Bryzgalov is listed as day-to-day and hopes to return Saturday when the Flyers face the Ottawa Senators in the final meeting between the two teams this season.