Hallelujah! The lockout is finally over and NHL fans all over are anxiously awaiting for the puck to drop for the first time in 2013. In particular, Philadelphia Flyers fans cannot wait to witness the entertaining character that is goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
Many believe after a bit of a disappointing inaugural season with the orange and black, 2013 will be a make or break season for Bryz. There has been some talk surrounding the Flyers possibly buying out Bryzgalov’s contract.
As of right now, that shouldn’t be an option.
While fans haven’t been thrilled with Bryzgalov’s “lost in the woods” attitude since coming to Philadelphia, he is clearly the best option they have. The Flyers simply cannot afford to buy him out, resulting in Michael Leighton being the only other option between the pipes. Bryzgalov’s 2011 campaign wasn’t what people expected after the Flyers signed him to a nine-year deal, however, it certainly wasn’t terrible. He finished with a record of 33-16-7 and his goals against average (2.48) wasn’t nearly the worst of his career. Also, coming from a low-key city like Phoenix to a high traffic city such as Philadelphia is a difficult adjustment.
Of course, if the Flyers aren’t sold on his play this season (or half a season) they can consider it. However, with a dwindling defense that will lose captain and surefire hall of famer Chris Pronger, has lost Matt Carle, and Andrej Meszaros coming off of surgery, is it really a fair trial? Especially during a shortened season. I myself, am a Bryz supporter. Others are not, which is fine. Regardless, he deserves much, much more time.
If Bryzgalov can consistently be the goalie we saw become the NHL’s Player of the Month of March and set the franchise’s new shutout streak record, he is staying in Philadelphia for a while. Don’t forget, he was the only bright spot for the Flyers during that dismal playoff series against the New Jersey Devils.
If you ask me, Ilya Bryzgalov will remain the Flyers’ goaltender for years to come. He has all of the intangibles to be one of the better goalies in the “universe.” He just needs to remain in check mentally in the most sports-crazed cities in the world.
Oh, and by the way. Welcome back hockey. We sure missed you.