Flyers' Read trying to get back on point
Matt Read entered Wednesday night's game against the Ducks with just four points in his last 17 games.
ANAHEIM, Calif. - In the past, when Matt Read went a few games without points, he told himself to rely on fundamentals to break out of the slump.
"It's little things," Read said. "Like supporting the puck better, or getting to battles quicker, or moving your feet in certain areas to get open for each other. Time will come."
The only trouble is Read has never been mired in quite as rough a skid as he is currently with the Flyers. He entered last night's game against the Ducks with just four points in his last 17 games - his worst run of 17 games since breaking into the NHL in 2011-12. He has scored one goal since Oct. 22, the date of the Flyers' last road win.
Usually, Read has been able to circle back to his defensive play or work on the penalty kill to remain positive. That's been a little harder to do as a minus player on the league's worst penalty kill.
Flyers coach Craig Berube hasn't been concerned with Read's play in the defensive zone, but recognized Read had struggled to create scoring chances before Tuesday's loss in San Jose. In that game, Read was one of the Flyers' better players on the ice, asserting himself physically and helping Sean Couturier win puck battles.
"I think Matt has got to skate and he's got to compete," Berube said. "I think if he does those two things, everything will take care of itself. They had some better opportunities [in San Jose] and they're moving better right now. I expect things to turn around for them."
The most alarming statistic is Read's shooting percentage - which at 5.3 percent is nearly a third of his career average. He's on pace for his average number of shots, but he's been kept off the scoresheet entirely in a few games.
Read didn't have a shot on goal in six of the first 24 games of the season. That only happened 11 times in 72 games in his rookie season, when he scored a career-best 24 goals.
"The last couple games, I've been focusing on shooting pucks more and getting in front of the net to look for rebounds," Read said. "If you're getting shots, you're getting opportunities, you've just got to stop gripping the stick so tight. Hopefully a good bounce will go my way."
The fix for that, Berube said, is simple. It only revolves around one thing.
"Well, to shoot, you've got to get to the shooting areas," Berube said. "A lot of times that involves skating and getting to those dirty areas to shoot and score goals."
At every level of hockey growing up, Vinny Lecavalier wore No. 4 in honor of Montreal Canadiens icon Jean Beliveau. He was forced to switch when he joined the Flyers last summer - since Barry Ashbee's No. 4 is retired by the franchise - but he simply tacked a zero on the end to form the No. 40 he wears today.
Beliveau, who had his name etched on the Stanley Cup a record 17 times, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 83. News of his passing brought forth an outpouring of support and remembrances from throughout the hockey world.
"I didn't see him play but I saw clips of him," Lecavalier said. "I always heard the stories of how great he was and what he did for hockey and Montreal as a young boy."
Lecavalier, 34, met Beliveau as a young player at a rink. Years later, when he made it to the NHL, he met Beliveau a few more times and had him sign a photo - which hangs in his Montreal home.
He was asked to portray Beliveau in a 2005 French-language film "The Rocket: The Legend of Rocket Richard," which he gladly accepted.
"I said 'Wow, this is a great honor,' " Lecavalier said. "Just to put that Montreal Canadiens jersey on, you kow, that old wool jersey they wore in the 1950s, with the Canadiens logo and the No. 4. It was a great experience. It was a great honor to meet him. He was just a great example to follow of how to be as an athlete and how to conduct yourself. He had a lot of class and was just a nice person. It was obviously a tough day in the hockey world."
Bryz is back
Old friend Ilya Bryzgalov arrived in Southern California in time for last night's game, just hours after signing a tryout deal with the Ducks. Anaheim was on the market for a goaltender to play Frederik Andersen's protégé after backup Jason LaBarbera broke his hand and will miss the next 2-3 weeks.
Bryzgalov, 34, spent the past 2 months training in South Jersey after failing to win an NHL contract with Minnesota in training camp. He won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2006-07 while serving as J.S. Giguere's backup.
The Flyers just happened to be in Anaheim when his tryout was announced. Strangely, he also signed with Edmonton on the eve of their game at Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 9, 2013. Bryzgalov split last season between Edmonton (20 games) and Minnesota (12), compiling a .909 save percentage.
Bryzgalov is being paid $1,642,857 annually by the Flyers through 2026-27 as part of his $23 million buyout package.
San Jose's backbreaking goal with 11.5 seconds left on Tuesday night was the seventh game-winner scored in the final minute of regulation in the NHL this season. The Flyers have been victimized on two of them, also on Nov. 20 against Minnesota at home. Wayne Simmonds was on the ice for both goals against.