Better With Popcorn

Under Pressure? Flyers handle it with ease

Earlier this season, the Philadelphia Flyers allowed a lot of goals against.

The reasons for this varied depending upon whom you spoke to or read, but the overwhelming majority blamed Ilya Bryzgalov.

When discussing Bryzgalov, there was a diverse set of thought processes as to why the free agent goaltender was struggling.

One of the more popular beliefs was that the media spotlight of Philadelphia was something that the goaltender had never experienced before in Phoenix. Many thought the newly found attention in Philadelphia brought with it an immense amount of pressure that Bryzgalov wasn’t prepared to handle.

On Thursday night during the Flyers 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders, Bryzgalov faced a different kind of pressure.

From opening puck drop to the final horn, New York consistently attacked the Philadelphia end.

At times, the Flyers struggled to clear the zone, which led to extended offensive attacks by their opponents.

Despite this, Philadelphia did a tremendous job of limiting the Islanders quality chances. They accomplished this through a tandem effort between Bryzgalov and the team defense (meaning all five skaters).

The Flyers pushed attacking players to the outside, forcing the Islanders to attempt lower percentage shots from the perimeter.  In addition, the group once again put their bodies in front of shots, blocking a total of 19.

Bryzgalov held up his end of the bargain by smothering shots and limiting rebounds, which cut down on second and third chance opportunities.

Once again, as has been the case over the last few weeks, Bryzgalov has utilized perfect positioning and technique. He is consistently squared to shooters and is taking up space in the net.

Unfortunately, his shutout streak came to an end.

On the Brightside, he managed to break a Flyers franchise record and now holds the longest streak in the club’s storied history (249:43 minutes without allowing a goal against).

Most importantly, though, the group (not just Bryzgalov) once again displayed that they are able to weather a brewing offensive storm when they have to.

In earlier games, the team struggled to do this and in effect had a hard time holding onto leads.

Now, that isn’t an issue.

Since the start of March, the Flyers have gained and held onto a lead in six of eight games, compiling a record of 7-1-0 in that span.

On Thursday, the Flyers had a three-goal lead with seven minutes remaining in the game.

With six minutes remaining, they had a one-goal lead.

From there on out, the team faced an unrelenting attack by the Islanders.

Despite the amount of offensive pressure being adminstered by their opponents, the Flyers stood pat and held onto the win.

While Bryzgalov may get all the attention (whether good or bad), the fact remains the same that the team truly does win-and-lose as a unit.

When each member of the team takes care of his own job, that is when the team has looked strongest.

If off-ice pressure from the media is still something members of the team are struggling with, the Flyers most recent performances are displaying that on-ice pressure from their opponents is an issue the team is more than comfortable dealing with.


Follow me on Twitter (@mattbrigidi) and make sure to "like" The Checking Line-Flyers Edition on Facebook to stay up to the minute with all the latest team news and notes.

Feel free to shoot me an email: