The Ghosts of Bryzgalov's Past
Whoever made the schedule this season must have had some insight as to where Ilya Bryzgalov was going to sign.
The Philadelphia Flyers are mid-way through a two-game western road trip that makes stops in both of his former teams’ cities in consecutive nights.
After defeating the Anaheim Ducks, Bryzgalov will look to make it two in-a-row tonight when he returns to Phoenix for the first time since signing with the Flyers.
Last night the team was able to battle back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Ducks, 4-3 in overtime.
Much of the focus has been placed upon the stellar offensive play of Kimmo Timonen, Jaromir Jagr, Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux.
But, before those players stepped up to lead Philadelphia to victory, the game had a far different story line.
Prior to starting in Anaheim, Bryzgalov had been benched for two consecutive games in favor of Sergei Bobrovsky.
Head coach Peter Laviolette stated that he was planning on allowing the goaltenders’ play to decide which would start, insinuating that he was not going to make his decision based upon the size of a player’s contract.
After Bryzgalov allowed seven goals in four periods over a two-game span, Laviolette decided Bobrovosky deserved a shot.
Fast-forward to the midway point of Friday night’s game against Anaheim and you had to assume that Laviolette regretted not starting Bobrovsky for a third consecutive game.
While all three goals against were not entirely Bryzgalov’s fault, he absolutely played a factor in them. Whether it was a poorly timed poke-check or a gift-wrapped rebound, the elder Russian goaltender did not look to be in prime form.
The one positive that could be taken away was that after allowing the goals, Bryzgalov turned into a brick wall and kept his team within striking distance.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t really the case.
After allowing three goals on 13 shots through two periods, Bryzgalov only had to make eight saves through the rest of regulation and faced a single shot in overtime.
This of course is not what Flyers fans expected when the organization signed Bryzgalov.
As of late, it seems like his teammates have been saving him with offense far more frequently than he has been saving shots.
This has caused resentment within the fan base. A resentment that is not unjustified.
With Bryzgalov’s contract comes a large sum of money and a commitment from the organization. But it also comes with a responsibility.
Not only is he expected to play like one of the league’s best, he is also expected to play like one of the best on his own team.
To this point, Bryzgalov hasn’t consistently done that.
To be completely fair, the defense has been playing poorly in front of him. But at the same time he is expected to rise above something like that.
While Laviolette may start Bobrovsky tonight in Phoenix, its hard to imagine that he keeps Bryzgalov on the bench in his first opportunity to play in front of his old city with his new team.
Playing in Phoenix for the Flyers may be what Bryzgalov needs to snap out of this funk.
During his time in Anaheim with the Ducks, Bryzgalov was part of a Stanley Cup championship.
In Phoenix, he was able to establish himself as one of the leagues top goaltenders.
Bryzgalov will be expected to surpass both of those accomplishments during his tenure in Philadelphia.