February 21, 2012

To my fellow Flyers Fans: Why we need to lay off Bryzgalov

To say Ilya Bryzgalov has not lived up to his 9 year, $51 million contract, is an understatement only dwarfed by his current goals against average. The Flyers took a lot of gambles and made a lot of trades (cough Mike Richards, Jeff Carter cough) to solve the annual Philly hockey dilemma of finding a stable, number one goaltender. And after the dust settled from all the signings and all the trades, what have we discovered: That the Flyers still don’t have a stable, number one goaltender.

With all of that said, I still have faith in Ilya Bryzgalov, and you should too. 

Despite his less than average stat line, his ever-fluctuating personality, and his nearly shattered confidence, “Bryz” is still the Flyers best bet between the pipes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a big fan of Sergei Bobrovsky and I think someday he could be one heck of a starting goaltender, but he’s also only 23 years old and plays goal like he’s 5’8” rather than the 6’2” he actually is. Not to mention, if you thought Brygalov’s numbers were bad, go take a look at what “Bob” has done lately. Let me spoil the surprise; it’s not pretty. So that leaves us Flyers fans with two options: Either we band together and storm the Bastille that is the Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone, calling for Bryzgalov’s head.

Or we can just take a deep breath and let the experienced netminder find his own way out of his current funk. Personally, I choose the latter. Let’s be honest, chances are, the Flyers are stuck with Bryzgalov, whether they like it or not, for many years to come. There are just too many dollar signs devoted to him to turn back now. Plus, he’s 38 games in to his 9 year contract. There is still time to right the ship, and there are actually some signs that it is. Since January 5, Bryzgalov’s GAA has been a solid 2.49 over 15 games. It’s not mind-blowing, but it’s certainly not dreadful either. Not to mention if you focus on just his last 7 outings, his GAA is a much prettier 2.18 with a decent .917 save percentage.

The criticism now deals with his inconsistency. It seems that any time Bryzgalov manages to string a few decent games together, he comes up with a clunker that shatters his confidence and rekindles the ongoing discussion of “why did they pay so much money for him?” And that’s exactly the problem. It’s time for us to stop beating down Bryzgalov for every bad game he has, because like every other goaltender in the league, he’s going to have some. And sure, maybe Bryz has had one bad game too many, but who else is there? What other options do you think the Flyers have?

For better or for worse, Ilya Bryzgalov is the Flyers best shot between the pipes right now, and it’s time we, as Flyer-Faithfuls, have his back.

- Mike Ali 

1 comment:

  1. Nice to read something positive. I like it. Once you have a team set, you have to support it.