Ilya Bryzgalov was rightfully honored for the tear he’d been on for the last month, named this morning as the National Hockey League’s First Star for the month of March.
Bryzgalov enjoyed the finest span in his brief Philly tenure, going 10-2-1 with a 1.43 goals-against average, .947 save percentage and a league-best four shutouts.
The 31-year-old Russian won seven consecutive starts to begin March, and posted his four whitewashes in a five-start span in the middle portion of the month. In the process, Bryzgalov set a new franchise record for scoreless play at 249 minutes, 43 seconds — snapping John Vanbiesbrouck’s franchise mark originally set in 1999.
For the season, the former Phoenix Coyote netminder is 32-15-7 with a 2.46 GAA and six shutouts in 57 appearances. He became the first Flyers goaler to record as many as six whitewashes in one season since Roman Cechmanek recorded six in 2002-03 en route to sharing the Jennings Trophy with Robert Esche.
Bryz beat out mortal enemy Evgeni Malkin and the mass-murder averse Ryan Miller for the top spot.
In addition, Wayne Simmonds was named the First Star of the past week. The former LA King put the puck in the net five times during a four-game goal streak. He scored one of the goals in memorable but painful fashion, using his face to deflect a shot past Craig Anderson in Saturday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators.
His best performance of the last seven days came last Thursday, when he tallied twice and added an assist in a 7-1 rout of the deflated Maple Leafs in Toronto.
And now, the bad news…
A double dose no less, as forward Danny Briere and defenseman Niklas Grossmann will miss time in this crucial stretch with injuries.
For Briere, it is an upper-back contusion apparently suffered late in the third period of a 6-4 victory on Sunday, when he was hit hard by Penguins forward Joe Vitale at center ice and fell backwards after impact. He was listed as being out indefinitely.
Grossmann was on the wrong end of a knee-to-knee collision with Vitale in the first period and did not return to the contest. He is expected to miss 7-to-10 days.
The Flyers have three regular-season games remaining: Tuesday hosting the Rangers, Thursday hosting Buffalo and in Pittsburgh on Saturday.