This wasn’t the greatest, most consistent season for Ilya Bryzgalov. The Russian netminder, playing in his first year with the Philadelphia Flyers, was a roller coaster ride unto himself during the regular season. He could go from dramatic highs of shut out streaks to miserable lows. The celebrity status given to him on HBO’s NHL 24/7 and the Philadelphia press might’ve made him the best quote in hockey, but it distracted him from his game so much so that come the Winter Classic that 24/7 had hyped for four weeks, Bryz was enjoying a thermos on the bench while backup goalie Sergei Bobvrosky was the starter.
The goaltender, who is the highest paid in the league, began the playoffs with a hope for redemption. What happened was instead a holy mess. Bryz won the series against the Penguins due basically to the fact that the Pens were in God-awful form. The New Jersey Devils, however, were not. There wasn’t any room for error, and there sure as hell wasn’t any room for this:
Well, that was unfortunate. That was also the game winning goal, scored by Davil Clarkson. It was called an unlucky bounce by coach Peter Laviolette. It was an “unlucky night” according to Bryz. What it was instead was a bad decision and poor puckhandling by a goaltender known for both. So, while former Flyers Jeff Carter and Mike Richards face off against Bryzgalov’s former team in the Western Conference finals, the Flyers will be at home watching the rest of the playoffs on TV. The goaltending stability the Flyers so needed didn’t arrive this year, and it looks like they’ll be stuck with more of the same for a while.