Bryzgalov is coming off what has been noted as his best NHL performance to date and the Flyers are still riding high from holding Ovechkin scoreless in seven of his last ten games, to face the NHL elite Detroit Red Wings at the Wells Fargo Center this Tuesday evening.
NHL greatness will also be honored this evening, as the Flyers retire the jersey of defensemen (#2) Mark Howe.
Both teams have played in close games recently… The Flyers have had three of their last four games decided by one goal, while the six of the last eight Red Wings games have also been decided by one goal… In their only meeting of the year, the Red Wings took a 4-3 victory from the Flyers at Detroit.
Coming off his third shutout of the season in which he made 34 saves, Ilya Bryzgalov now posts a 1.33 GAA and .951 save percentage in his last three starts, stopping 77 of 81 shots.
This is the second and final meeting between the teams this season.
Can Ilya Bryzgalov follow his tremendous start Sunday against the Capitals with another big effort? Or will the Red Wings be extra motivated knowing two points could be the difference between first place and fourth in the Western Conference?
Bryz may face better odds in this match up, as Detroit plays Tuesday evening without three of its key players: Detroit's star center (Pavel Datsyuk), its future Hall of Fame defenseman (Nicklas Lidstrom) and its No. 1 goalie (Jimmy Howard).
The Flyers are still missing JVR, as he prepares to have foot surgery and a possible 4-6 weeks out of play; as well as Andre Mezaros and Kimmo Timmonen still out on 'indefinte' status. (*status simply means that is cannot be pin pointed how long either player will be out).
The Flyers goalie coach, Jeff Reese, watched Bryzgalov perform Sunday evening in the Verizon Center against the Capitals and had this to say when asked about the net minders evening on the ice: "That was his best game as a Flyer," Reese said. "There's no question about it. It's just a confidence thing. The environment, everything around him, he's starting to feel more comfortable."
Bryzgalov recently has brushed off all questions about his confidence or comfort in his first season in Philly, but the numbers show he's playing better.
He's [4-2-0] in his last six games, and has allowed just eight goals in his last four games. This season and Bryz's progression may have been rough to watch, but our squad may finally be where it needs to be prior to this season's playoffs.
The Wings have lost six straight regular-season games in Philadelphia. Their last win in the city was January 25, 1997. The other only two wins Detroit had on Philly were the first two games of the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals.
The Flyers mark a moment in Alumni history this evening when they will retire Mark Howe's #2 jersey, prior to the puck dropping for this crucial game for both teams. Howe's jersey is only the fifth one to be retired in Flyers Franchise history.
Mark Howe called it a continuation of what already has been a wonderful season for him. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November, and now will get to see his jersey become only the fifth one retired by the Flyers. He'll join Bernie Parent (#1), Barry Ashbee (#4), Bill Barber (#7) and Bobby Clarke (#16).
"To be singled out from the players that played in the 1980s and to be put up in the rafters with (Parent, Clarke and Bill) … I look up to those guys and I have a lot of respect for them," Howe said. "They set the standard for what it means to be a Flyer. For me to have my jersey number up there with them speaks volumes for me. It is a great honor."
This fan cannot help but note the presence of irony between this retirement ceremony and what two teams will face-off immediately following. It is no secret that Mark Howe is the son of 'Mr. Hockey', the late, great Gordie Howe--who set the bar for NHL greatness and played a portion of his amazing career for the Red Wings and Mark is noted as one of--if not the best defensemen to ever wear a Flyers jersey. So here's to these two greats of the past bringing good 'mojo' to both teams this evening and brining the best match up of this regular season to life in the Wells Fargo Center.
The puck drops following the retirement ceremony, scheduled for a 7:00 PM start and the game is televised on CSN. Those fans, like myself, that reside outside of Philly have to resort to viewing the game via online links and only viewing the ceremony on the Flyers website the following morning. Hard to take when you had watched Mark Howe skate for most of his career along the ice in the Spectrum, but such is life.
Congratulations to Mark Howe upon a stellar career, Hall of Fame induction and his jersey coming back to where it belongs and all the best to Bryz and the boys to making sure that the Red Wings leave our fine city still not tallying a win upon our home ice. GO FLYERS!