It wasn’t exactly a particularly fun start to the season for Ilya Bryzgalov. I mean, sure he was plenty quotable in his memorable stint on HBO with the Flyers for 24/7, but he wasn’t playing particularly well. In fact, the Flyers, if anything, were winning in spite of him, not because of him.
That’s allll beginning to change for the Flyers as Bryzgalov has kicked his game into a new level much more reminiscent of his time in Anaheim and Phoenix, for those of you who actually watched him play in those places. I know plenty probably didn’t so let me just say: it was impressive. The guy has a career .914 save percentage and 27 shutouts.
The 31-year-old Russian goalie has started 10 straight games and has earned shutouts in two of his last three starts, earning first star of the game in all three contests.
He’s also got a G.A.A. of 1.25 and a save percentage of .960 during the four game winning streak as he and the Flyers seek their fifth consecutive victory Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre.
Seriously, that’s freaking impressive. That being said, the Flyers appear wise to have loaded up on defencemen at the trade deadline, as Peter Laviolette attributes a lot of Bryzgalov’s success to the Flyers’ improved defense.
“It wasn’t a tough decision. He’s coming off three great games and Toronto is a desperate team,” Laviolette said after the morning skate. “He seems focused. He seems really in control of what he’s doing back there.
“Our guys have been doing a good job of cleaning things up in front of him. There are always chances. There is so much talent in the league and break downs happen and that’s where your goaltending can come up big. He’s been terrific lately.”
All told, if the Flyers can keep the offense up and have an in-the-zone Bryzgalov, the Eastern Conference could be theirs to lose.
Do YOU think the Flyers are legit Cup contenders less than a year removed from their roster demolition?