Ilya Bryzgalov isn’t going to win the Vezina Trophy this year, but this goalie has played well enough to front a postseason team. His problem is that the Philadelphia Flyers only have a few other playoff-caliber players on their current roster.
One of Peter Laviolette’s problems last season was that “Bryz” was inconsistent. While Bryzgalov’s splits (.899 save percentage, 2.78 GAA) are worse this year, his performance has been better overall.
We must remember that number 30 put on a shutout show last March, which helped to pull those 2011-12 seasonal numbers toward his career averages. When considering his strong start this season and the fact that he’s appeared in 27 out of the 29 games the Flyers have played, it can be argued that Bryzgalov is actually the team’s best overall player.
Yes, Jakub Voracek is averaging 1.07 points per game and is easily the Flyers’ best offensive player, but he’s also a -6 on the season.
Veteran Kimmo Timonen has been stellar, scoring 19 points (which leads all Flyers’ defensemen) and posting a respectable +1 rating. The 38-year-old (as of today, March 18) has gutted out all 29 games to boot, while averaging 21:07 TOI per game.
Remove Voracek and Timonen and Philadelphia might have 17 points, instead of 27. Eliminate Bryzgalov, who’s the National Hockey League’s TOI leader (1,534:51) and this team might have seven points. Of course, those blatant hypothetical scenarios intentionally don’t incorporate how three replacement players would have performed, but the point remains the same. The 2012-13 Flyers are thin all over.
Few goaltenders could miraculously pull their team over the .500 line with the same type of thin defense that has allowed as many quality chances as this Flyers’ blue line contingent has this year. With that in mind, it will also take until at least next season before a number of these holes are patched, or closed.