Better With Popcorn

Bryz and the Defense 'Bounces' Back

Deflections and bounces have become a dirty word for the Philadelphia Flyers.

At least that’s been the case in Ilya Bryzgalov’s most recent starts.

Whether it’s been on purpose or by accident, pucks have seemed to grow a pair of eyes prior to reaching Bryzgalov.

On Tuesday night, in the Philadelphia Flyers 5-1 trouncing of the Minnesota Wild, the puck began to bounce in the troubled goaltender’s favor.

A fact that wasn’t lost on him.

“It's no bad bounce goals tonight, that's why it's a big difference,” Bryzgalov said after the game. “I think the team played unbelievable and they gave up nothing today.”

It’s no secret that Bryzgalov has been under a magnifying glass in recent weeks.

In reality, he’s yet to have a day this New Year where someone hasn’t questioned his ability to do his job.

Following the impressive performance against Minnesota, Bryzgalov displayed some of the reasons why he was so coveted by the organization this offseason.

Stopping all but one of the 26 shots he faced, Bryzgalov looked solid after allowing a few goals in his two most recent starts that he probably wishes he could have back.

Against the Ottawa Senators last Sunday, Bryzgalov and the Flyers boasted a 4-2 lead heading into the third period prior to allowing three goals, two of which touched Flyers players before entering the net.

In the team’s most recent game against the Nashville Predators, two of the three goals came on bad bounces, including one which knuckled past Bryzgalov and another which bounced off a player’s glove.

The team ultimately lost 3-2.

On Tuesday against Minnesota, Bryzgalov successfully tracked the puck and was able to cut down on any angle that the Wild could have hoped to take advantage of.

Not to mention that the team held onto their lead.

With the exception of the one goal (Bryzgalov admitted after the game that he should have had his glove in better position), it was evident that the goaltender looked much more confidant than he had in previous appearances.

But you won’t hear him say that.

“I don't want to talk about this,” Bryzgalov said when asked about his confidence level moving forward.

However, Bryzgalov isn’t the only member of the team under fire.

The Flyers defense has caught some heat since captain Chris Pronger was deemed out for the remainder of the season.

Largely viewed as the weakest component of the team, some view the group as the reason why Bryzgalov has struggled this season.

On Tuesday night, the defense was able to box out attacking forwards and played a physical game that made it almost impossible for Minnesota to get to the Philadelphia goal.

It’s true; the Wild are injury depleted and have had little success in recent games, but that doesn’t take any thing away from the Flyers, and especially Bryzgalov, for being able to take care of business.

All one has to do is go back to Bryzgalov’s start against the New York Islanders back in December to see that a weak opponent can still cause problems.

Let it be clear, Bryzgalov still has issues to work through. To put it in his own words, he isn't out of the woods just yet.

While it’s still far too early to say that both Bryzgalov and the defense can carry their performance from Tuesday into future games, it’s encouraging that they are capable of putting together a complete effort.

“Yeah, it probably is,” Peter Laviolette said when asked if the game was his team’s most complete in recent weeks.

“I thought the process was better in Nashville, but we didn't walk out with the results. Now you come in and go through the steps and play the game you want. You get 60 minutes and you get the results that show for it too.”


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scowpert's picture

That goal by Powe shouldn't have been let in by a $51 mil goalie.