Here, now, are Philly’s goaltending numbers through four games of their Eastern Conference semifinal with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ilya Bryzgalov: 4.95 GAA, .844 save percentage.
Sergei Bobrovsky: 8.11 GAA, .722 save percentage.
Yet through Games 1-3, those weren’t of major consequence to Philadelphia…because the Flyers were winning. Bryzgalov had allowed three, five and four goals in his first three starts, but they were mitigated by the guys in front of him (who scored four, eight and eight respectively.)
Philly thrived playing old school, fire wagon, last-goal-wins kind of stuff, reminiscent of the 1980s style of hockey where it was cool if the goalie surrendered five…so long as his team scored six.
But last night, Pittsburgh flipped the script.
Bryzgalov — then Bobrovsky — were torched in identical fashion during the 10-3 loss. Both allowed five goals on 13 shots (finishing with .722 save percentages) and both looked shaky on a number of occasions.
Bryzgalov’s rebound control came into question on Evgeni Malkin’s opening tally:
Bobrovsky was no better but, by the time he entered the contest, things had deteriorated to a shooting gallery at the local carnival.
Following the game, the Flyers defended their netminders. Head coach Peter Laviolette said “Our team needs to be better,” while Claude Giroux insisted he wasn’t worried about the goaltending.
But there’s no way Philadelphia’s 100 percent comfortable with the current situation, especially with the memories of last postseason still fresh. In 2010-11, Bobrovsky, Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher all saw action during the Flyers’ 11-game run — and they all finished with sub-.905 save percentages (not one posted a goals-against average under three.)
Now, the goaltending numbers are actually worse and there’s been nothing to suggest they’ll get better. When asked to sum up the totality of Bryzgalov’s work thus far, Laviolette had this to say:
“I said it before about Bryz. The first few games in Pittsburgh, he made spectacular saves. But when you put it cumulative together and tie everything together, it makes it a little more difficult to answer [if I’m satisfied with goaltending] with a yes or a no.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement, that.