Sergei Bobrovsky Says He’s “Definitely Playing To Be No. 1”

26 Nov

NEW YORK — Signing Ilya Bryzgalov was supposed to eliminate the phrase “goalie controversy” from the vocabulary in Philadelphia, but the way Sergei Bobrovsky has been playing recently is demanding ice time. That’s why Peter Laviolette said he played Bobrovsky in consecutive games on consecutive days.

“Just based on the way Bob played, I think he deserved to go back in there,” said Laivolette. “He didn’t get a lot of work [Friday] night. There weren’t a lot of chances at him. He was fresh and he came in and for two games in a row, five periods, he really gave us an opportunity to win a game and we did twice so it wasn’t really a hard decision.”

After declining to speak in English, Bobrovsky spoke through a Russian translator and said that he wasn’t surprised to get the call on Saturday, but announced his intentions moving forward.

“I’m definitely playing to be No. 1 and not sit on the bench and watch someone else play,” said the goalie. “I’m hoping I will be No. 1.”

Certainly, every player will say that he wants to be at his best and strive to be in the best position possible. But Bryzgalov, the $51-million man, is supposed to be the No. 1. These weren’t words that Bobrovsky minced in English. He spoke them in Russian.

Bobrovsky came on in relief of Bryzgalov on Wednesday against the Islanders, made 20 saves and got the win. He turned away 18 of 19 shots on Friday against Montreal at home. He made 30 saves against the Rangers on Saturday, but it still wasn’t enough as the Flyers were blanked 2-0. The 23-year-old was especially sharp in the first period when the Flyers struggled the most to get any kind of pressure on New York.

“Bob is doing well,” said Danny Briere. “He played well in New York [against the Islanders] and gave us a chance to win that game. He played well [on Friday] against Montreal, basically saved our butts in the first period.”

Bobrovsky is now 5-2-1 on the year. He had won two in a row coming into the game against the Rangers and Laviolette has the reputation of playing a goalie with the hot hand. That’s what he did on Saturday. In the short-term, it seems harmless that Bobrovsky got the start.

“Well, Bob played great for us the other night,” said Braydon Coburn. “I’m sure [Laviolette] just wanted to go with the hot goalie. Bob played a great game [Saturday] night.”

At the same time, the Flyers think that Bryzgalov, the 31-year-old veteran, is mature enough to take something like this in stride.

“He’s not 22 years old anymore,” said Briere. “He’s been around. He knows there are ups and downs over the course of a season and things are going to get back into place for him.”

Now if Bryzgalov doesn’t start the Flyers’ next game, one that’s five days away, well then the term “goalie controversy” might hold a lot more water.

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