Well the Philadelphia Flyers have a lot of injuries, Claude Giroux isn’t gelling with his new lines mates yet, the defense is terrible (like usual), and their power play is awful. But wait who’s that in net? A new and improved Ilya Bryzgalov.
When Bryzgalov was first signed to that huge $51 million contract over a span of nine years, Flyers fans were livid. Especially last season when he didn’t play up to this huge deal. Towards the end of the season he did start to find his center and got really hot, but he faltered in the net during the playoff series against the New Jersey Devils. But don’t blame him entirely; he was playing on an injured foot.
When the new CBA was announced with a buyout contract option, a lot of people were saying that Bryzgalov was going to go, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen, especially if Bryzgalov continues to play as well as he has been.
He had a slow start in the first three games, but despite the Flyers poor starting record of 3-6-0 with only 6 points, Bryzgalov has pretty much been carrying the team. This is not just one fan’s opinion; a lot of fans have been seeing a huge change in Bryzgalov. He’s been good with covering the puck and playing his stick to keep it out of the crease, and he’s definitely been more alert than he has been in the past. There is clearly a reason why Michael Leighton has only played one game so far, because Bryzgalov has this on lock.
Right now his save percentage is .920 and his GAA is only 2.40. That isn’t bad for only being a few weeks into the season, but he could be a lot better. The goaltender is the backbone of every hockey team, and unfortunately when teams start to lose a lot, the blame gets placed on the guy in net. For the Flyers, that’s starting to change, as fans and the media are seeing that Bryzgalov is doing the best he can, the blueliners just need to back him up.
If he can continue to play the way he has been, once the defense smartens up, the Flyers could have a chance this season. It just has to be a team effort.
Bryzgalov is looking like a different goalie, like the former Vezina trophy winner that the Flyers initially signed, and it’s about time. Defense and poor goal tending has been the Flyers problem for decades, so the team really is relying on Bryzgalov to continue to carry them.