Last night’s Flyers/Jets game was certainly one for the ages. The scoring pace was absolutely phenomenal but it came at the expense of the Flyers goaltending which I thought was addressed in the off-season. Professional athletes are supposed to show confidence and strength at all times when it comes to their sport. Even when you have an awful performance or go through a bad stretch to come out and say you have zero confidence in yourself to the fans is not something we want to hear.
Last year’s post season run finally opened the eyes of Flyers GM Paul Holmgren and he set off a massive chain of events to move the two faces of the franchise and bring in a top notch goalie. Ilya Bryzgalov came in to be the savior of the Flyers goal. He’s supposed to be the brick wall and lead us to the promised land. So far he’s been below average to put it best. I haven’t been impressed at all with his performance and attitude so far this season.
I’ll even go as far as saying up until last night Sergei Bobrovsky has been the better goaltender so far. Clearly Bryzgalov looks overwhelmed with his new role as the savior in Philadelphia. He’s been playing in the small market of Phoenix for the past few seasons where hockey isn’t even an after -thought so he hasn’t had to deal with pressure. While he was in Anaheim going through a Stanley Cup run he was the backup to JS Giguere so again no pressure on the shoulders of Ilya.
The current play of Bryzgaolov is even more frustrating because of the price we paid to bring him in. Lets’ not forget this Flyers team was in the Stanley Cup two seasons ago and they were the dominant team of the Eastern Conference during most of the regular season last year. For us to move Richards and Carter was huge. Sure they had problems with the media and had a little more fun than others in their spare time but as far as I’m concerned they were the established faces of this franchise and they were on the brink of finally ending the cup drought. I think moving both of those guys really had an effect on the chemistry of this team and we might have been able to get away with bringing in a lower tier goalie such as a Tomas Vokoun.
The bottom line is that the moves were made to bring Bryzgalov here. We have the talent around him to be a contender even though we are young. I believe this franchise will get back to the cup sometime during the tenure of Bryzgalov but it will be up to him to make it happen. When he’s saying things such as “I have zero confidence in myself right now” and “If you probably throw a ball instead of the puck, I’m not gonna stop it” alarms go off in my head.
This guy is being paid $51 million to stop the puck and he did a fine job of doing it in Phoenix so why can’t he do it here. Is it the pressure we as a city place on our sports teams? Does he not like the spotlight of a big city? Are the coaches asking way to much of him so soon? These are questions that all are valid at this point with his remarks after last night’s game.
I think Ilya needs a nice kick in the rear after his comments and his performance the last four games. Sure it’s only October but those remarks shouldn’t be said publicly by any professional athlete especially in this town. Can you imagine if Donovan Mcnabb had said the same remarks during his tenure about not having confidence? I’m sure during #5’s time here in Philly he thought that but let’s be serious if McNabb ever said something like that people in this town would go crazy feasting on him.
The same can be said for any of our top notch Philadelphia athletes. Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Mike Vick, even Allen Iverson when he played here. These guys are all warriors and when they weren’t playing up to standards they knew and they went back and to try and correct the issue instead of curling up into a ball and throwing a pity party like Ilya is doing right now.
Like I said it’s only October so plenty of time remains for Bryzgalov to get his head right. Hopefully this will be as bad as it gets for the goaltender because if it can get any worse we’re in serious trouble as a hockey team. Hopefully this is a learning experience for our $51 million dollar man. If he doesn’t find his confidence soon more of us might be thinking what could have happened if we kept Carter and Richards around. Ilya save the pity party and find your confidence because if it doesn’t happen sometime soon you’ll go from the toast of the town to the roast of town and we really don’t want that for you.