Flyers Goaltending: A Preview for Training Camp

This time last year, Flyers fans were holding their collective breath that goaltender Michael Leighton was the real deal and not a journeyman back-up.

A handful of preseason games later and Leighton was undergoing spinal surgery while the organization rushed to acclimate rookie Sergei Bobrovsky to North America.

The landscape in net has since changed, now that Ilya Bryzgalov signed with the club. During the dog days of summer, it was easy to overanalyze his contract and the lack of foresight associated with it, but with training camp approaching, one can’t help but be excited by the promise that he brings.

It’s been over 100 games since the Flyers have had a shutout. I’m willing to bet Bryzgalov, who had at least 7 shutouts in each of the last two years, breaks that streak by the tenth game of the season.

Bobrovsky, while he may be overpaid as a back-up, is fired up for the season and ready to fight for ice time. In an interview with Dmitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy a few weeks ago, Bob stated, “No one wants to be number two… Of course we won’t sharpen each other’s skates, but a healthy working relationship is the engine for progress.”

In other words, the kid gloves are off.

He also stated that he now understands what it takes to play in the NHL and is better prepared for the workload, whether or not he just gets 15-20 games.

The future is much more uncertain for the remaining goaltenders at training camp.

Depending on whether Leighton clears waivers or not, Johan Backlund could be bought out at the end of training camp to make contract space. His roster spot with the Adirondack Phantoms is in doubt since the organization signed veteran AHL goaltender Jason Bacashihua. Backlund’s inaugural season in 2009-10 was followed by an injury plagued effort in 2010-11. He and his 0.890 save percentage have become expendable.

Brad Philips, the last goaltender at camp, will likely continue in the CHL or join the Trenton Titans of the ECHL.

Prospects Niko Hovinen and Jakub Kovar will remain in their respective European leagues for now. It is unknown whether Kovar will be brought over next season to back-up Hovinen in Glen Falls, but both have gotten off to excellent starts.

According to Teemu from Broad Street Hockey, Hovinen went 10-0 with a 1.40 goals-against-average during his preseason with the Pelicans of the SM-Liga while Kovar earned a 1.83 goals-against-average in his preseason with Ceske Budejovice of the Czech Extraliga.

In every area of goaltending, the Flyers are prepared. Who would have thought?

For the latest Flyers news and updates, you can follow me on twitter (@JoshJanet).

One thought on “Flyers Goaltending: A Preview for Training Camp

  1. Good stuff Josh,
    This training Camp and Preseason games should be much more interesting to follow with all the new players this year… Sort of like the Eagles with lots of talent and high expectations.. I hope this new Goalie “Bryz” is the real deal and lives up to expectations, so far he has gotten off to a pretty good start with the local media and I am sure his new teammates and coaches,, .

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