Better With Popcorn

Bob Expected to Lead Flyers into Long Island

The philosophy is simple enough to understand.

It’s a standard that Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette holds all of his players to; the security of your play, not your contract, will determine how much playing time you will receive.

While Ilya Bryzgalov has more than enough security in his lucrative nine-year contract, he will (in all likelihood) be viewing tonight’s game against the New York Islanders from the bench rather than the goal crease.

Saying Bryzgalov has struggled doesn’t even begin to describe what has been going on with the senior Russian goaltender of the Flyers staff.

After winning six consecutive starts, which ironically enough began after a poor performance against the Islanders back in November, Bryzgalov has gone 2-4-1 in his last seven and has allowed four or more goals in five of the games.

In the team’s last game against the Islanders, the Flyers opened the scoring off the opening faceoff. The Islanders immediately tied the game on the ensuing faceoff and went on to score a total of three goals in the period.

Rather than have Bryzgalov return, Laviolette decided to substitute Bobrovsky. It turned out to be the correct decision.

Bobrovsky went on to stop all 23 of the shots he faced as the Flyers battled back to win the game in overtime, 4-3.

Since relieving Bryzgalov against the Islanders, the young goaltender has posted a record of 6-2-0 and has held opponents to two goals or less in six of the games. Both of the losses came at the hands of the New York Rangers.

With Bryzgalov unable to prove that he is capable of playing at a high level on a consistent basis, it seems, at least for the time being, that Bobrovsky will have the opportunity to display why he deserves more playing time.

While Bobrovsky’s play has been strong thus far, he does have flaws.

At times, his rebound control is weak and he still tends to make his usually large 6’2” frame tiny by crouching into a crab-like position. This tendency opens up areas that his opponents have taken advantage of, most specifically, underneath his arms and up high in the corners.

All concerns aside, he has earned the opportunity to start and will without a doubt look to take advantage of the chance if he does indeed get the nod.

In terms of the game tonight, the Flyers will look to settle a surging Islanders team that has won four of their last six. In their most recent game against the Detroit Red Wings, the Islanders took advantage of a weak defensive effort by the Wings d-corps on way to winning 5-1.

While the Isles have found success lately, they are still the cellar-dwellers in the competitive Atlantic Division. When the team does manage to tie a few wins together they more often than not will follow it up with a few losses.

For the Flyers, a team who has plans of making a deep run this spring, it is of the utmost importance that they collect as many division wins as possible.

Considering the strength of the Rangers and the fact that they have already dropped three games against the Broadway Blue Shirts, the Flyers can’t afford to lose to New York’s other team.



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