Better With Popcorn

The Story of Bob, Bryz and Defense

It’s an issue divided.

When it comes to the Philadelphia Flyers defense, Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky, opinions vary across the gambit.

Following the Flyers most recent loss to the Nashville Predators, the debate has seemed more like a “Choose your own Adventure” book more so than a discussion.

If you think that the defense is the answer, you choose page four and begin to see a list of instances where the group failed to clear the front of the net, allowed the opponent to drive the net consistently and committed too many turnovers which led to rushes in the opposite direction.

The conclusion of the story varies upon future decisions, but to generalize for time’s sake, it ends with the team trading for some kind of defenseman who solidifies the defense and gives Bryzgalov the help he has needed for weeks. 

If you think that Bryzgalov is the answer, you pick page five and learn about all the times the goaltender failed to live up to expectations.

The words, ‘terrible’, ‘overrated’, and ‘disappointment’ appear frequently in this conclusion.

If you think that Bobrovsky is the answer, you pick the final page and hear about his 10-3-1 record, 2.42 GAA and his .921 save %. That’s pretty much all you see in this section, because it’s a much more convincing story than the other options.

At the root of this issue is the fact that Peter Laviolette has continually stressed that no matter what position, performance is more important than contract.

Obviously, Bryzgalov was a huge offseason investment and the organization would like to see some returns. For the time being though, that isn’t happening.

In his last eight starts, the elder Russian has a record of 2-5-1. He has allowed four or more goals five times and has only held the other team under two goals twice.

In Bobrovsky’s last eight starts he is 6-2-0 and has held opponents to two goals or less six times. In addition, he has only allowed more than three goals in just two appearances this entire season.

It’s undeniable that the Flyers defense has played poorly at times.

There is no question that they don’t stifle the opposition in the way that they are expected to.

However, it doesn’t change the fact that the same group of defenseman plays in front of Bryzgalov just as they play in front of Bobrovsky.

If trading for a defenseman is the key to Bryzgalov playing better, then just think about how much more dominate Bobrovsky will become considering how well he has played with the current group.

No matter how you look at it, Bobrovsky has outplayed Bryzgalov.

It doesn’t mean that it was a mistake to sign Bryzgalov; it just means that the first 30 games of his nine-year deal aren’t going well. Realistically, he was bound to struggle at some point over the 3,285 days that he is under contract for.

Whether the occurrences of Saturday night were Bryzgalov’s fault or not, the fact remains the same that the team did not win.

Based upon his performance as of late, it’s hard to excuse plays as bad bounces when you start thinking about all the bad bounces that have been occurring lately.

When the team returns to action on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild, it should be Bobrovsky starting in net, for no other reason than that he deserves it.

His play, independent of any one else's actions, has earned him that right.


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