Flyers Faithful asked Bill Meltzer from HockeyBuzz, NHL.com, and PhiladelphiaFlyers.com, Joshua Janet from GCobb, Michael DeNicola from Orange and Black Pack, and our very own Bob H five questions about the second half of the season. We are very grateful that they took the time to share their opinions and predictions with us. Each day of this week, we will run the answers to one of those questions. Today’s question is:
Many people are disappointed with Ilya Bryzgalov’s output to date. How much of that has to do with external factors (adapting to a new environment, more media coverage and fan pressure, HBO’s 24/7 series coverage, etc.)? Should we expect changes in his play now that much of that is in the past?
Bill Meltzer: I don’t think anyone can answer that for sure, including Bryzgalov himself. I think he needs to be a little more resilient. The ability is there. He showed that in Phoenix (and no, I don’t think that was merely due to Dave Tippett’s defensive minded system). Bryz has needed to adapt to seeing fewer shots but perhaps a few more quality chances. His save percentages on opposing power plays have never been very good — even in his best seasons — so he needs to make more momentum saves at five-on-five. Will he? We’ll find out.
Joshua Janet: Unless you have had intimate conversations with Mr. Universe, I think any explanation for why his save percentage is so poor is just an educated guess at best.
Instead of the various excuses, I prefer the simpler answer- what fans have seen is what Bryzgalov has had to offer to date. If he can match Sergei Bobrovsky’s competitiveness and if Peter Laviolette gives him ample starting nods in the second half of the season, then perhaps he’ll have a chance of “getting hot” down the stretch.
Michael DeNicola: Honestly, that’s a question only Ilya Bryzgalov can answer. Everyone can relate to adapting to a fresh environment, whether it’s your first day at a new elementary school or you’ve just been thrown between the wickets of a new hockey club. But not everyone’s reaction is the same. Judging from his performance, his Tweets (which should cease immediately), and his overall demeanor on camera in HBO’s 24/7, I’d say the man is rattled. I’d feel sorry for him, but he’s getting paid $51-Million to stop a puck and ONLY stop a puck. If shutting himself off from the outside world is what it takes to get us a ‘W’ in the win column, then lock Bryzgalov in a cellar with game video.
From this moment out, I really have no idea what to expect from him. There hasn’t been a game in recent time where he’s gotten the nod and I felt confident. And it’ll take more than one or two positive games to change that. The problem I see here is that we’re getting into the second-half of the season; It is an entirely new breed of hockey and Bryzgalov’s shown no sign of consistency. Unless, of course, you label his inconsistency the only consistent part of his game. After what we all believed was a cured headache from the miserable past, we are once again staring at a goalie carousel in the face.
Bob Herpen: If Bryzgalov himself is the only one who can answer that question, we may have to wait a verrry long time for an answer. Even if it’s not written in code across the solar winds, we’re more likely to find it solely in his play — which is a prickly issue at best because Peter Laviolette has been treating the crease situation more like a turnstile than anything else. I think whatever focus he possesses will return with an actual plan in place, but only if Lavi is intent on keeping him as the #1 Guy. The dirty little secret here is that while Bryz was paid big money, the ceiling on his talent can never match that. Of course, there will always be that certain segment of persons with recorders in his face after games which can lead him to further doubts and turn the people against him…