Originally posted on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 1/1/12


PHILADELPHIA – Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov stood in front of a bevy of reporters and stated: “I have great news and even better news. The great news is I’m not playing tomorrow, and the better news is we have a chance to win the game tomorrow.”

Though fellow goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and head coach Peter Laviolette didn’t confirm who would start, Bryzgalov all but affirmed that Bobrovsky would start in the Winter Classic.

“Of course (it’s disappointing),” Bryzgalov said. “I’m a human. I’m not made of steel. But it is what it is.”

Despite Bryzgalov having the star power and big contract, the Flyers are confident in Bobrovsky for tomorrow against the New York Rangers.

“He deserves to start. He has played great,” Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said. “It’s great to have healthy competition between the two.”

Bobrovsky added, through a translator, "Whatever I think does not matter. It’s not up to me, it’s up to the coach."

Bryzgalov, who has been one of the focal points of the anticipation of the Winter Classic, has had his fair share of ups and downs in the first half. Despite a 14-8-3 record, Bryzgalov boasts a 3.01 goals-against average and .890 save percentage (and those numbers have been worse in December). Contrarily, Bobrovsky has seen success in limited time, including a 1.55 GAA and .947 save percentage in his last nine appearances.

The Flyers signed Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million contract in the off-season, which essentially put Bobrovsky in the backup role from the get-go. But Hartnell believes that shouldn’t matter when deciding who should start in tomorrow’s big game.

“He gave us a chance to win every game last year,” Hartnell said of Bobrovsky. “Ilya’s a tremendous goalie, but I think he’s just had some bad luck in the last couple games. Even though it’s the Winter Classic and a big game, it’s still two points in the standings and we want to get (those points). If Bob is our best chance right now to get the points, we have to go with him.”

Laviolette added, “If the game is played here or at Wells Fargo Center, you have to make the best decisions on what is the best avenue to beat the New York Rangers. I had a lot of tough conversations today, because guys want to play. Nobody wants to hear that they aren’t playing.”

Laviolette didn’t confirm who would start, but has liked the way Bobrovsky has kept at it while playing behind Bryzgalov.

“Bob’s preparation is terrific,” Laviollete said to the media after today’s practice. “With Ilya getting a lot of the starts, Bob has had to spend a lot of time working with Jeff (Reese) and I think that’s really helped. … I think it’s his whole work ethic that allows him to be better.”

Photo credit: Getty Images

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