When the Philadelphia Flyers acquired goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov from the Phoenix Coyotes last offseason, the NHL world was quick to jump on the Flyers as early season favorites to compete for the Stanley Cup. After a disappointing yet productive season in Philadelphia, the Flyers had all of the momentum going into the 2012-2013 season. When news of the lockout hit the hockey world, players, such as Bryzgalov, reacted quickly and decided to take their talents overseas in order to be ready for an upcoming season.
Bryzgalov signed to play with CSKA Moscow of the KHL until the NHL lockout ends. In his first couple of games for CSKA, Bryzgalov has struggled with a 0-2 record, 4.02 GAA, and a .857 save percentage. Obviously not playing since May is a problem for Bryzgalov but the limited playing time is not a reason for Flyers’ fans to jump ship on the 32-year old Russian goaltender just yet.
In 59 games for the Flyers a year ago, Bryzgalov struggled. Though he did have 33 victories, he also had a GAA of 2.48 and a save percentage of .909. 2011-2012 was not Bryzgalov’s worst season of his career, which is weird because many thought he was doomed from the start.
What really has done Bryzgalov in is the psychological side of the game. Bryzgalov is a player that feeds off of emotion, as should any player, but last season was different for Bryz. Because of HBO’s 24/7 series and the fact that Bryzgalov was moving from a small market NHL team to a big market team, he struggled psychologically. It felt as if he was trying to make everyone like him, which I believe that everyone would have if he had played consistently all season.
But Flyers’ fans should not fret over a rough start overseas. The NHL is a different game and without consistent playing time, Bryzgalov’s numbers will not be sharp.
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