As shaky as their defense is heading into the new season, Ilya Bryzgalov may be the biggest wild card for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Bryz struggled throughout his first year in the City of Brotherly Love, which was to be expected. He did flash some brilliance in the spring months, though, which has many thinking big for his second season in Philadelphia.
The struggles of Bryzgalov are obviously understood. Jumping from a small market where there was virtually no pressure to a massive market like Philly would rattle anyone, so you can excuse his struggles to a point. But heading into year two, avoiding criticism won’t be so easy.
I am in the camp that thinks Bryzgalov can bounce back and have a strong year. The only question is the defense he’s playing behind, but if he can show us some more of that March version of Bryz, then it’s going to be a very good year for him. He should already be much more comfortable about playing in that type of market.
But what if he struggles? What if Bryz comes out and can’t put together consistency in the same way we saw him last year? The Flyers don’t have Sergei Bobrovsky to fall back on like they did last season. Michael Leighton isn’t the type of guy you trust to make one start, let alone several consecutive starts.
Is there any type of backup plan for the Philadelphia Flyers if Bryzgalov struggles again? The easy answer is no. The Flyers acquired Bryzgalov and signed him to a massive contract to be their franchise goaltender for the next several years.
Whatever results he gives the Flyers the next few years, they’re stuck with. With no contingency plan in place, it’s probably safe to say (at least this year) that as goes Ilya Bryzgalov, so go the Philadelphia Flyers.