Laviolette Has Goalie Decision To Make For Friday

24 Nov

This Thanksgiving, Peter Laviolette is thankful that he has two capable goalies. But which one will he turn to on Friday against the Montreal Canadiens? Had the Flyers not come back with a winning effort in overtime Wednesday, it would have been easy for the coach to say that he pulled Ilya Bryzgalov simply to send a message to his team. However Sergei Bobrovsky stood tall and made 23 saves, allowing the Flyers the chance to win and was the difference.

After the first period of the Flyers’ win over the Islanders, Laviolette had seen enough. He pulled Bryzgalov who allowed three goals on nine shots. The first goal came 19 seconds after the Flyers’ first goal.

Kyle Okposo scored both of New York’s first two goals and later in the first period Michael Grabner, who assisted on Okposo’s goals, beat Bryzgalov with a shot from the right wing that the goalie saw clearly. It beat him down low on his stick side.

“The first two goals were tough,” Laviolette told reporters after the game. “There was a turnover point-blank in front, no defenders. The second one off the rush on the power play was tic-tac-toe. He probably wanted to have another look at the third one, but we’ve got to do a better job of backchecking too and getting back in the play. We just wanted to change it up.”

Bobrovsky made 23 saves on 23 shots, was extremely steady and backstopped the Flyers’ comeback effort. Bobrovsky is now 6-0-0 with a 1.83 goals-against average against the Islanders in his career.

So whom do the Flyers turn to against Montreal on Friday? Laviolette likes leaning toward the hot hand, which in this case is Bobrovsky. He is 2-1-0 in three games against the Canadiens with a .920 save percentage. But the bigger issue might be Bryzgalov.

Laviolette didn’t start Bryzgalov against Winnipeg over the weekend. Bryzgalov had won his past two and gotten points in his last six games. Between not getting that start and getting pulled after one period on Wednesday, it’s fair to ask if Bryzgalov’s confidence has taken another hit.

The $51 million man is 0-3-1 against the Canadiens in his career and has a 3.75 goals-against average against Montreal.

Perhaps Thursday’s practice will play a role, but Laviolette has a very interesting decision to make. Oddly enough, by winning Wednesday’s contest, his decision may have gotten a little harder.

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