The Orange and Black have lacked a number one goaltender for years. A second round sweep in the Stanley Cup playoffs prompted the organization to go out and try and find that number one goalie. They used three goalies in four games against the Boston Bruins.
With the offseason signing of Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine year, $51 million contract fans finally thought they had found their number one goaltender. A rough first half of the season and decent play from backup Sergei Bobrovsky had fans wanting Bobrovsky as the number one over Bryzgalov.
Bryzgalov has been inconsistent all year. He would have a game where he looked like he deserved that contract and then the next game he would look like a bad backup letting in soft goals. Bryzgalov came over from Phoenix where he was used to a tight defensive system and the Orange and Black obviously aren’t that type of team defensively especially with the loss of Chris Pronger.
He’s played 35 games so far this season, so he should be adjusted to the way the guys in front of him play defense. The Flyers have turned the puck over way too much in their own zone and a lot of the goals that have gone in this season have been off deflections by his own defenseman. When push comes to shove, Bryzgalov still needs to make some of those saves even off of deflections.
Bryzgalov was used to playing in Phoenix, where there really isn’t the type of pressure to win like there is in Philadelphia. He somehow has to block all of that out and just go on the ice and make the saves that need to be made. He was giving up too many rebounds but that seemed to change when he went to the old school style of pads. One area that he still needs to improve on is stopping the puck in a shootout.
Bryzgalov’s goals against average isn’t bad at 2.37. His save percentage is under 90 percent at .898 but that could be skewed due to some games where he’s been pulled or just let in a lot of goals. Bryzgalov has given up too many soft goals by not being square to the shooter or by leaving the post too soon. There have been occasions where the defense has left him out to dry with no help at all.
He has played better since coming off the All-Star break. He’s making the saves that need to be made and even had his first two shootout saves of the year. Bryzgalov is making sure that he doesn’t give up as many rebounds and he also looks more comfortable and square to the shooter.
I believe Bryzgalov is going to have the kind of second half that the Flyers need him to have in order to make any type of run in the playoffs.