In Philadelphia, the Flyers’ back-up goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has started 14 games this season. He’s 10-3-1 with a .921 save percentage (good for 14th in the League) and a 2.42 goals-against-average (17th). He turned 23 in September.
Those numbers are more than acceptable, but they weren’t a guarantee in the off-season. Because of that the Flyers made a smart decision, and decided to lock up one of the NHL’s best starting goaltenders.
That man, 31-year old Ilya Bryzgalov, signed a nine-year deal worth 51 million dollars. …and he’s just been awful ever since.
If you’d like to see Ilya Bryzgalov’s stats, you can get there via the method I chose: go to NHL.com. Then click “STATS,” and scroll down to “INDIVIDUALS.” Then select “GOALIES.” Then click “Sv%” (save percentage). It will organize the 60+ NHL tenders in order from best to worst. Then click ”last page.”
Oh, *there* he is.
On a 26-13-4 team, Bryz is proudly sporting a 16-10-3 record in 29 games-started this year, with an .891 save percentage (66th) and a 3.07 goals against average (61st, also just bad enough for the last page).
A 9-year contract? What could possibli go wrong?
At this point, Peter Laviolette has his hands tied. Worst-case scenario for his career: he allows Bobrovsky to take over the starter role and makes his GM look like a jerk for the Bryzgalov contract. Y’know, that guy who’s able to fire him.
So yeah, they kinda have to ride this one out. As an Islanders guy who knows we’re going to be paying Rick DiPietro into, oh, I’ll guess 2030, I’m entertained by potential for goalie-drama in Philly.
“I hate numbers, you know that,” Laviolette told reporters today when asked if Bryzgalov was still his number one goalie. “That’s a silly question. I don’t use numbers.”
Laviolette added: “Bryz was brought here to be a horse and has received the majority of games. I don’t see that changing.
“I hate numbers” says an NHL coach. Nice.
Things look good in Philly this year, but if you’re in Laviolette’s shoes, this could start to get ugly soon.
How long do you have to keep playing a lesser goaltender to appease your boss when you’ve been hired to win?