Is Ilya Bryzgalov finally rounding into form?
That’s something being asked after the Flyers goalie recorded what CSN Philadelphia dubbed “an encouraging Western swing.”
Bryzgalov has started Philadelphia’s last five games — in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and San Jose, then home against the Islanders — and was mostly solid, posting three wins and two sterling efforts against the Oilers and Sharks.
“He looks very much in charge of his net right now,” coach Peter Laviolette said.
To be fair, Bryzgalov’s numbers don’t indicate any significant change. His save percentage over the last five is a pedestrian .887, thanks in large part to allowing four goals on 21 shots in Calgary and four on 26 against Winnipeg.
But numbers don’t tell the entire story — Bryz made four huge stops in the shootout against the Flames and several key stops against the Isles on Thursday, which CSN Philly’s Jay Greenberg described thusly:
The Flyers, in their first home game after a four-game trip, came out flatter than the $51 million man has spent his first five months in Philadelphia on his face. Still, they beat the Islanders 6-3 because Bryzgalov brought the old, Phoenix Bryzgalov home with him from an encouraging Western swing.
He got beat on a rebound after stopping [Josh] Bailey point-blank, by Bailey on a cross-ice feed to an empty net and by a one-time bazooka by Kyle Okposo from about six feet. Some idiots booed the last one, but you can’t play much better in surrendering three goals than Bryzgalov did.
Bryzgalov isn’t prepared to say he’s found his groove — he told reporters, “I don’t want to talk about it” after the Isles game before acknowledging, “I feel good” and then walking away — but it’s clear he’s in a much better space. The Flyers are rolling six veteran defensemen deep on the blueline (gone are the likes of rookies Marc-Andre Bourdon and Eric Gustafsson) and Bryz seems to be over what was a lengthy adjustment period.