Crashing the Crease: Main Courses and Side Dishes

I am writing this week’s article from the front of an unnamed Best Buy somewhere in the Delaware Valley. As I brave the cold weather for the incredible savings I’m about to indulge in, I hope you’re all warm and relatively full of turkey.

Image Courtesy of For Habs Fans and turkeys

Okay, so I’m not anywhere near a Best Buy. As insane as I may be, I’ve realized that I’m not quite ready to wait in a line for over 24 hours so I can save $139 on a TV that I don’t need. I am, however, ready to delve into a recap of things I’m thankful for in the world of goaltending. And, since I’m fully engulfed in the holiday spirit, I’m also ready to talk about the things I’m not so thankful for in this realm.

Let’s begin with a good thing, something that’s often overlooked but of critical importance.

Main course #1: I am thankful for the double cup. As a guy who is stepping in front of pucks on a regular basis, that second layer of protection is exactly the belt-and-suspenders approach I need to let me focus on the game. Each time I see an opponent winding up, I get set a little deeper knowing that I’m ready for anything. So, thank you, second cup. You’ve been a game-changer.

Moving on to the first side dish, I’d like to examine something I’m not quite thankful for…Ilya Bryzgalov’s signing with the Flyers.

Yes, I know, I’ve written optimistically about him in previous posts, but truth be told, I didn’t like the contract from the moment it popped into Homer’s brain. From watching him in Phoenix when I lived in Houston, I saw a guy who played deep in his crease, was easily affected by the events around him and who was not worth number one starter money. Still, like instant mashed potatoes, he’s here and a real threat to the progress we seek as humans and Flyers fans. I hope he can turn it around and find, at the least, the statistical prowess he displayed most of the time in Phoenix, but I’m not really optimistic. The Flyers will continue to add water and stir, and he’ll always be a dehydrated flake.

After my part-Festivus, part-unThanksgiving airing of grievances, let’s find some balance with the Second Course and another thing I’m thankful for.

And what would that be? Well, nothing other than Martin Biron. As you ask what new drug I’m on, I ask you to take a step back and think about what he did while here. He helped take us to the Conference Finals in 07-08. He probably could’ve gotten us to a game seven against the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Penguins, were it not for Daniel “Crapbomb” Carcillo’s antics against Talbot. He also single-handedly sustained the hockey tape industry in Philly. Still, the Flyers let him walk in favor of Ray Emery and Chris Pronger (I don’t count Michael Leighton in goaltending discussions).

While he was prone to his Olaf Kolzig moments (bad goal syndrome wasn’t foreign to Marty) and he hasn’t exactly set the league ablaze with his performances since being let go, he has performed to essentially the same level as Mr. Universe will likely be able to reach as a Flyer and he did so with a smile. He had probably the best personality of any Flyers goaltender since Hexy, but he was also stable enough to inspire some level of confidence. To this day, I wish the Flyers had held onto him. I’m very interested to see what he could’ve done behind the 09-10 defense.

Wrapping up this week’s article is side dish number two: Michael Leighton. I chose him because, well, he’s really going to be the backup to Bryzgalov should the NHL ever start back up? Seriously, this is our best #2 option? We’re going to rely on Bryz and Leights behind a depleted and aging defense?

I say the NHL should stay locked out solely because I don’t want to be reminded that this situation is reality night in and night out. Leights may be a great guy. He may have even fooled me in 2010. But I know the truth now, and he should not be our backup. He’s a very good AHL goaltender, but I think he’s Neil Little 2.0. He’ll never be good enough to stick in the show, but has somehow managed to steal a spot in this case due to circumstance. And yes, I say this fully knowing that I’m not good enough to dry his gear after a game, so, please, save me that angle. I’m just really lost as to how this ended up being the Flyers’ strategy.

With that, I’m going to wrap it up. I could go on and on for days, but I’d like to hear what you guys and gals are thankful or not so thankful for. I hope you’re more optimistic than I am, but I also firmly believe that a real Flyers fan is a pessimistic one, at best. Let me know what your main courses and side dishes are in the comments section. I’ll be quick to reply.