Originally written on Buzz On Broad  |  Last updated 8/14/12

When the Flyers signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million contract in June of 2011, the fans were relieved. They had thought the elite goaltender that the city of Philadelphia had longed for was finally here. Unfortunately, in the first year of this nine-year deal, things didn't go as planned.

The veteran goaltender was leaving a smaller hockey market in Phoenix and being thrown into one of the biggest hockey markets in the NHL. Philadelphia is specifically well-known for being one of the toughest markets for goalies to play in (best said by Bryzgalov himself).

 It is safe to say that the play of Ilya Bryzgalov was a huge disappointment to not only the fans, but the Flyers management. These were not the kind of stats the Flyers were looking for out of their elite goalie:

His play in overtime games throughout the season was very poor. His save percentage (.909%) was lower than it had been in previous years with both Phoenix and Anaheim. His goals against average (2.48) is exactly the same as it was in the 2010-11 season with the Coyotes, but still not impressive. Although Bryz was not the main issue in the second round playoff exit, a .887 save percentage and a 3.46 goals allowed average is not impressive at all. 

As the 2012-13 season is approaching, many Flyers fans are quite optimistic about how Bryzgalov will perform this season, as they should be. In my opinion, it was a very rough transition period for Bryz, but that is behind him. I believe there is much to look forward to from Ilya.

If you look at how Bryzgalov played towards the end of the season, that should make you feel pretty good:

  • Ilya Bryzgalov in March: 10-2-1, 1.43 GAA, .947 save percentage
  • NHL's First Star for the month of March
  • Recorded four shutouts
  • Set a franchise record 249:43 shutout streak

If Bryzgalov can play like that for a whole season, the Flyers will be in VERY good shape. The most important part of that sentence is " if " ...

Many people will immediately blame the Flyers defense for Bryzgalov's poor play. While the defense was not at its strongest last season, neither was the man between the pipes.

Questions surround the Flyers defense this off-season. After the losses of Chris Pronger (post-concussion syndrome), Andrej Meszaros (torn right achilles tendon), Matt Carle (signed with Tampa Bay), and Andreas Lilja (hip surgery), people fear that the Flyers will have the same defensive struggles as last season. While I think Holmgren will make it work, whether he fills the gaps with young guys, or brings someone in, that is not the point.

The point is, that whether Ilya Bryzgalov will rebound after last seasons poor performace is up to him. Although the defense is expected to make his job easier, they can't save basic shots that a goalie of his caliber should be able to stop. 

By no means am I saying that the defensive efforts will have no effect on Bryzgalov's performance. Ultimately, what is comes down to though, is Bryzgalov being able to "find the peace in his soul to play in this city".

If Bryz can return to Phoenix form and is able to be solid consistently between the pipes, the Flyers are going to be in phenomenal shape. It is up to him, alone, to do that though. It is not as much about the defense that is in front of him as people think. 

In my opinion, Bryzgalov's play will have a bigger impact on how the defense looks than vice versa. If he is playing well and winning games, it will make the defense look great. I, along with most of the Flyers fans, expect Ilya Bryzgalov to bounce back and look forward to watching him have a great season.


Andrew Dintino is a Lead Contributer/Flyers Analyst for Buzz on Broad and the head Flyers writer for The Hockey House. 

You can follow him on twitter @AndrewD48 for all of the latest happenings regarding the Philadelphia Flyers.



Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Phil Kessel has shed 13 pounds this summer

Cam Newton addresses ‘gang’ photo on Instagram

Steelers defense is younger and faster but not better

Duke basketball to visit White House next Tuesday

Report: Cowboys have interest in Broncos RB Montee Ball

NFL owners to discuss changing Goodell's disciplinary role


Report: Eagles trade Matt Barkley to Arizona Cardinals

Bill Belichick on having Tom Brady back: ‘He never left’

Mendoza replaces Schilling on 'Sunday Night Baseball'

Report: LeBron expanding program to help adults get GEDs

Here's Johnny 2.0

Michigan remains a fixer-upper in wake of loss to Utah

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Robert Griffin III and a dream deferred

Best, worst surprises of NFL preseason

The Gospel Of Harbaugh prepares for its ultimate test of faith

Meet the Utah Utes, the pluckiest program in college football

Iman Shumpert will name daughter Iman Shumpert Jr.

Dallas company celebrates Romo with DirecTV 'crownies'

Top 10 storylines for Week 4 of the NFL preseason

Matt Williams is still hopelessly married to the idea of the closer’s role

Five unique CFB games to watch this weekend

Be careful what you wish for, Jay Gruden

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker