Better With Popcorn

Bryz takes step in right direction

It wasn’t pretty, but pretty doesn’t get you points.

While the Philadelphia Flyers were only able to take away one point from Tuesday night’s less than thrilling shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets, one was a number they were happy to see.

As in, one goal.

In the first game back from the All-Star break, Ilya Bryzgalov managed to walk away from Tuesday night’s game having only allowed one goal in 65 minutes of play.

For Bryzgalov, a player who most will agree has largely struggled over the past month, the ability to hold an opponent to a single goal is a step in the right direction.

That of course doesn’t mean that he has bounced back or that he is ‘out of the woods’ if you will, but considering how volatile the situation has gotten at times this season, a one goal performance is a welcomed start.

In addition, Bryzgalov was finally able to stop his first and second shots as a Flyer in a shootout. After allowing five goals on five attempts in his two previous appearances, he managed to turn away the first two Jets shooters.

The fans took notice of the occurrence and gave the 31-year old goaltender an ovation.

“Yeah, it’s a big support thing,” Bryzgalov said after the game. “Thanks a lot to our fans. They cheered for us tonight but unfortunately we couldn’t deliver the win…we’re gonna work hard and continue to improve our game to make them happy.”

Ultimately, improving his game is exactly what Bryzgalov is going to have to do moving forward.

Against the Jets he made some great saves.

He smothered shots and limited rebounds, which helped cut down on Winnipeg’s chances. When the Jets did get chances, they managed quite a few in tight, which were difficult to battle off.

With the exception of Chris Thorburn’s second period goal (which was more of a great attempt by the shooter, than a miscue by the goaltender), Bryzgalov managed to turn them all away.

Of course, there are some areas that still need work, most notably, his five-hole.

There have been several instances this season where Bryzgalov has failed to adequately protect the area.

A few examples that quickly come to mind are Erik Karlsson’s game-tying goal on a no-look shot in the Flyers meeting with the Ottawa Senators on January 8th and Gregory Campbell’s go-ahead goal for the Boston Bruins on January 22nd.

On Tuesday night, Bryan Little managed to win the game for the Jets in the shootout when he beat Bryzgalov with a similar strategy.

“Just a little bit late to close the five-hole,” Bryzgalov said of the game-winner after the game.

There is no doubt that the team wanted to walk away from the game with two points. At the same time, no one was beaten up about coming away with one.

Everyone acknowledged that the game after the All-Star break is usually rough and Tuesday night was no exception.

For Bryzgalov, the game was a good first step. He looked solid and made plays when he needed to. It must be noted that there were a few times that he was saved by a post or a wide shot, but in a general sense he played a promising game.

At the very least it's something to build off of.


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