Ilya Bryzgalov, Andreas lilja

A silent Bryzgalov is a confident Bryzgalov? His teammates think so


If you’re wondering about why Ilya Bryzgalov has been so quiet lately, that’s for a good reason. Ever since talking about his fear of bears and then being nearly eaten alive early in the first round by the Penguins, Bryzgalov has gone about his business very quietly and that’s by design.

As Randy Miller of the Courier Post Online notes, getting to talk to Bryzgalov is impossible now but his teammates have complete faith that he’ll get the job done against New Jersey in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“We have a lot of confidence in Bryz,” Flyers center Claude Giroux said. “He’s a veteran and knows what he has to do out there. Defensively, we have to do a better job in front of him, and I think we will.”

Danny Briere also feels strong that Bryzgalov will do well with the Devils and that’s much in part to his stellar numbers against them this season. Bryzgalov is 3-0-0 with a 0.29 goals-against average and a .987 save percentage with two shutouts. With those kinds of numbers, it’s easy to feel confident. If he can continue that sort of play in the postseason, Bryzgalov can go ahead and not talk to as many people as he wants to.

Brodeur thinks Flyers solidified themselves by getting Bryzgalov

Ilya Bryzgalov

It seems like Ilya Bryzgalov has been a big story consistently since the Philadelphia Flyers inked him to a nine-year/$51 million contract. The headlines linked to him haven’t always been positive and the jury is still out on whether Philadelphia was right to put so much faith in him.

Certainly, he has his detractors, but it doesn’t sound like Martin Brodeur is one of them.

“That’s a team that’s a big market team that will pay the money to win,” Brodeur said, referring to Philadelphia. “Regardless of how they did it, there was always that little missing piece that for everybody was goaltending because there was so much movement. I think they solidified themselves doing what they did with Bryzgalov. A lot of people have different opinions about him, but I think in the long run they’ll be fine with him.”

Bryzgalov had a 0.29 GAA and .987 save percentage in four games against the Devils in the regular season. That said, the playoffs are a different beast and Bryzgalov’s hot-and-cold nature overall this season makes him something of an X-factor going into the second round.

Ilya Bryzgalov has gone from “Bryzly Bear” to “Boring Bryz”

Ilya Bryzgalov - Epic - 24-7

Over at CSN Philadelphia, Tim Panaccio is bemoaning the disappearance of everybody’s favorite quote machine.

That, of course, is Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. The man best known for his love of dogs, fear of bears and knowledge of China’s stringent tiger protection policies has been a fountain of one-liners this season, but has since clammed up following Philly’s opening-round victory over Pittsburgh.

Why? Not sure, though it’s probably because of the correlation between “Boring Bryz” and solid netminding (conversely, “Bryzly Bear” and sieve-like performances.)

Anyway, here’s the latest media vs. Bryzgalov transcript:

Q: How can the guys stay fresh this week?

Bryz: “Eat more veggies.”

Q: Are  you bored with all this practice?

Bryz: “Yeah, bored with you guys.”

Q: Bored with the practices? Would you prefer the games to begin?

Bryz: “We’re working on some things. Always having fun in practices.”

Q: Will you be happy when you know the name of your opponent, so it makes it easier to prepare?

Bryz: “I can’t control this….Really it doesn’t matter.”

Q: What are you doing to stay sharp? What are doing right now?

Bryz: “Going in the shower.”

Wow. So boring.

In an effort to spice things up, here are some of the best NHL soundbites of the year.

(And yes, Bryz is prominently featured.)

Flyers need Bryzgalov to be a key player moving forward

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (not pictured) scores past Ilya Bryzgalov #30 of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

A key ingredient to a Stanley Cup winning team is superb goaltending. Do the Philadelphia Flyers have that? Honestly, the jury is still out.

Ilya Bryzgalov left something to be desired for most of the Flyers’ series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but it would also be unfair to hold him fully responsible for his 3.89 GA and .871 save percentage in the playoffs. The Penguins have an absurd number of gifted scorers and defense didn’t seem to be the primary focus of either team for the better part of the series.

Still, the Penguins are gone and Bryzgalov did play an important role in that, particularly in Game 6. Now he needs to show he can lead the Flyers through what is likely to be a more conservatively played series where goals will be at a greater premium and each mistake by a goaltender will be more heavily felt.

“We’re going to live and die by Bryz,” Scott Hartnell said. “If he plays anything like he did (in Game 6) throughout this next round, we’re going to keep moving on.”

One thing we’ve seen is that Bryzgalov doesn’t have many equals when he’s playing at his best. If Game 6 was the start of another hot streak, then whichever team ends up facing them in the next round should be very nervous. Conversely, if he remains inconsistent, then Philadelphia will have a hard time making it further than they did in 2010-11.

Evgeni Malkin thought Ilya Bryzgalov would be the difference maker in Pittsburgh’s favor

Evgeni Malkin, Erik Gustafsson

Seeing the Pittsburgh Penguins bow out in the first round to the Philadelphia Flyers is an especially bitter pill for Pens players and fans alike to swallow. The Penguins came into the playoffs on fire and all of a sudden they’re out in six games.

Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review spoke exclusively with Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin to get his thoughts on what happened. Malkin had a curious thought about one area he thought the Penguins would have the advantage.

“Every team has a chance to win, not just Pittsburgh. You see the Rangers are down, too. It’s tough to win it every year. And we played against (the Flyers), and they played unbelievable against us all year. … Defensively, offensively, they did it all against us. I thought maybe with their goalie maybe it would be good for us, but it wasn’t.”

Thinking that the possibility of Ilya Bryzgalov being shaky would be a difference maker isn’t a radical thought which makes how small Marc-Andre Fleury came up in the series that much more of a kick in the pants for the Pens. After all, if Fleury even has an average series, perhaps these two teams are setting up for a Game 7 or the Pens find a way to win.

It’s going to be that kind of summer in Pittsburgh with lots of deep thoughts and “what if” questions thrown about.