As usual, there was no mystery which Flyers goalie would be the first off the ice for the team’s morning skate Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
You leave first, you’re playing that night, and Ilya Bryzgalov starts just about every game for the Flyers.
The orange and black hit the halfway point to this lockout-shortened, 48-game season with Tuesday night's game against the New York Rangers, and for Bryzgalov it was 22 starts in 24 games.
Bryzgalov had his best seasons as a workhorse in Phoenix, but that isn’t the reason he’s played so much this season.
“We weren’t in a situation back in the beginning of February to rest anybody,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said before a 4-2 Flyers loss. “What good is resting for the playoffs if you don’t make the playoffs? So it’s kind of been all hands on deck and we need to put our guys in there and play them extra minutes or extra time or starts in a row for a goaltender.”
Controversial for his zany comments and inconsistent with his play as a first-year Flyer last season, Bryzgalov has been consistently solid this season in allowing three-or-fewer goals 16 times in his first 22 starts.
“I think he’s been our best player the first half of the year,” defenseman Braydon Coburn said.
Mike Knuble was more insightful talking up Bryzgalov the other day.
“He’s your quarterback, he’s your shortstop, your fourth batter,” the veteran winger said of Bryzgalov, owner of an 11-10-1 record, 2.68 goals-against average and .903 save percentage. “We revolve around him. He’s going to be the key to everything.”
Coming into the season, there was a bunch of media and fan speculation that the Flyers would take advantage of the amnesty clause in the new CBA and after the season ditch Bryzgalov, who is in the second year of a nine-year, $51 million contract.
No rest for Bryzgalov
Courier-Post | Mar 6