Zombies are pretty played out, but it’s hard not to see a little bit of the plot devices in decaying flesh when you watch the Philadelphia Flyers right now. The Pittsburgh Penguins seemingly keep beating the Flyers down, yet like a reanimated corpse or a pesky horror movie villain, Philly keeps getting up. That spirit might be best embodied by Ilya Bryzgalov; his numbers are likely to end up hideous by the end of this series despite making breathtaking saves like these:
The Flyers just ended the second period with a 4-4 goal, so perhaps Bryzgalov is becoming the equivalent of a wacky-but-lovable closing pitcher. It seems like every outing is a heart attack waiting to happen, yet he occasionally wins a duel that reminds us why he received the big contract.
Of course, Peter Laviolette could easily start the third with Sergei Bobrovsky in net, so that bigger point might be a moot one. Either way, it’s a pretty amazing save.
From the look of things, he’ll need to make a few more for Philly to pull off another impressive comeback win.
There have been many ramifications from Ilya Bryzgalov’s “bears in the forest” comment.
It’s put the Flyers goalie back in the media spotlight, inspired Penguins fans to show up at Game 1 wearing bear outfits and, most importantly, bolstered the Pittsburgh costume rental industry.
More, from the National Post:
“With the bears, the only one I have left is a teddy bear, and people just don’t seem to think that it’s frightening enough,” Nicki Paglieri, manager at a Costume World location in Pittsburgh, said on Friday. “The other ones were good, though.”
The other ones ended up online and on television on Wednesday, when a handful of fans in rented bear costumes tried to unsettle Bryzgalov as he faced their hometown Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final series. It might have helped in the first period, as the Penguins took a quick lead, but the intimidation must have faded as the game wore on, and the Flyers won in overtime.
Paglieri said she fielded at least two more calls for bear costumes on Thursday, with the Penguins preparing to host the Flyers in Game 2 on Friday night. The two bear suits she rented earlier in the week were on three-to-five-day contracts, though, which meant all she had left in stock was the teddy bear — and a penguin suit.
She has successfully rented out the penguin suit.
It should be noted that a full bear costume costs $125, while renting just the head and mittens will run you 50 bucks. Cleaning costs are included in the price, though it’s unlikely any amount of cleaning will erase the smell of “all the disturbing things people do while wearing bear a costume.”
(Image courtesy Crossing Broad.)
There was the possibility that the Flyers could be going without a pair of key players in tonight’s Game 1 against Pittsburgh, but that won’t be the case because hockey players are tougher than you are.
Forward Danny Briere and defenseman Niklas Grossmann will both suit up for the Flyers tonight the team announced after this morning’s skate. Briere is a key offensive player for the Flyers while Grossmann is a needed presence on defense to try and slow down the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and James Neal.
The team will be hoping Briere’s contributions can be big as he’s had a rough go of it all season long thanks to nagging injuries. Grossmann, meanwhile, will give the Flyers a bit more of a defensive edge along the blue line.
One move that’s less surprising is Ilya Brygalov getting the start in goal for Philly. Bryzgalov missed the last few games of the season thanks to a chip fracture in his foot and some thought Sergei Bobrovsky might get the call in Game 1. After seeing the Penguins score easily on Bobrovsky in the season finale, Bryzgalov getting the call is no shock. While Bryzgalov didn’t participate in this morning’s skate, he said he was just resting for tonight.
In October, Ilya Bryzgalov provided one of the season’s best soundbites when, in trying to explain his poor play, he said he was “lost in the woods.”
Now — just prior to the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs — Bryz is at it again with references to the outdoors. On Monday, one intrepid reporter asked the Flyers goalie for his take on Philly’s opening round opponent, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Here’s how that went:
Reporter: What’s the biggest threat that the Penguins have?
Bryzgalov: You know, I’m not afraid of anything. I’m afraid of bears — bears in the forest.
And here’s the video:
While this quote isn’t a big deal — what was Bryz going to say, that he’s terrified of the Pens? — you have to wonder if some within the Flyers organization aren’t awkwardly pulling at their collars right now.
Bryzgalov’s best stretch of play this year coincided with him focusing on hockey and avoiding the Yakov Smirnoff routine (conversely, his worst stretch coincided with trying out monologue material with reporters.)
There’s also the notion that the bigger the stage, the more Bryzgalov is likely to put his foot in his mouth. We saw evidence of this at the 2012 Winter Classic, when he let the cat out of the bag that Sergei Bobrovsky would be getting the start in goal (an attempt to be funny that, reportedly, infuriated head coach Peter Laviolette.)
While it’s probably too soon for Philly to start thinking about re-instituting the gag order, one wonders if this might be the last Bryzgalov quip we get this postseason.
Ilya Bryzgalov’s attempt on Tuesday to play through the chip fracture in his foot didn’t go well for the Philadelphia Flyers. They lost 5-3 to the Rangers and Bryzgalov ended up stopping just 19 of 24 shots. However, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren wasn’t about to blame his goaltender for that loss.
“You couldn’t fault him for any of the goals. I’m not concerned at all,” Holmgren said. “It’s good he got a game behind him and now he can move forward.”
Wayne Simmonds echoed Holmgren’s comments by saying, “We didn’t help him too much.”
Bryzgalov will probably play between the pipes on Thursday against the desperate Sabres. Buffalo is tied with Washington for eighth place with just two games left, but the Capitals control the tiebreaker. That means that if Buffalo loses in regulation and Washington wins, then the Sabres will be eliminated.
With that in mind, the Sabres might be an even tougher challenge for Philadelphia than the first place Rangers were on Tuesday.