Flyers Not Concerned With Outspoken Bryzgalov

1 Jan

CITIZENS BANK PARK — Things were certainly different in Phoenix. There weren’t as many cameras and there was definitely no Winter Classic. So when Ilya Bryzgalov came east to one of the biggest hockey markets in the league, the Flyers knew they weren’t exactly getting the same goalie that played in Phoenix.

At the same time, that doesn’t mean they were expecting for him to announce, in dramatic fashion, that he had been benched for the Winter Classic, or say that he was “lost in the woods” in his first month as the Flyers’ starting goalie.

Through the first three months of the season, Bryzgalov posts a 14-8-3 record with a 3.01 goals-against average and .890 save percentage. His career average is a 2.57 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

“When Bryz gets in the net … he’s gotta earn it back,” said Scott Hartnell. “I don’t think it’s a No. 1, No. 2 thing. It could be 1A and 1B. But not he’s gotta realize he’s gotta get his job back.

“Obviously, Ilya is a tremendous goalie, but I think he’s had some bad luck the last couple of games and even though it’s the Winter Classic and the big game, it’s still two points in the standings. We want to get it, and if Bob’s our best chance right now for us to get the points, then we gotta go with him.”

There is certainly a case to be made that the Flyers’ expensive shiny new toy, one that cost $51 million across nine years, didn’t know what he was getting himself into. Some say he’s more interested in being an off-ice personality than a Vezina Trophy candidate.

“People doesn’t care how I feel, right? They wants the show, they wants the entertainment,” said Bryzgalov. “You remember the Rome, right? Antique Rome? Roman Empire. What they want? Gladiators and bread. That’s all they want. The crowds doesn’t change: They still the same. It’s going to be past 300 years ago again in the future. It’s going to be the same. It’s all the crowd needs.”

While he’s certainly put on a show, as evidenced by HBO’s “24/7,” the Flyers would probably rather he focus more on his play. The past few days in practice, he’s worked a little bit extra with goalie coach Jeff Reese. That’s who told Bryzgalov he would be taking in the Winter Classic from the bench and the goalie then relayed the message to the media, much to the chagrin of Peter Laviolette.

Still, those in charge say they aren’t worried about the mental status of Bryzgalov.

“It’s good that Ilya’s had a couple of days here to do a couple of extra things with Jeff, talk through some things, I think he’ll be better because of it,” said general manager Paul Holmgren. “Am I worried about it? No. He’s seen Dr. Reese the last couple days.

“If Sergei [Bobrovsky]’s playing tomorrow, it can’t be a bad thing. He deserves to play. He’s played well. If Ilya was playing tomorrow, I’d think Ilya would have a good game too. I’m not concerned about who’s playing.”

“I’m not worried about Bryz,” said Danny Briere. “Bryz is a good goalie. He’s going to bounce back. He’s had some bad luck lately, but we all know he’s a good goalie. We’re going to need him down the stretch. We’re going to need him in the playoffs. I’m not worried at all.”

Laviolette, on the other hand, wasn’t willing to diagnose Bryzgalov’s mental status.

“You know, I’m not sure how to answer that question,” said the coach. “You can probably ask him that. I’m not sure. I think that’s more of a personal question, are you struggling. I can’t speak for him.”

The potential problem for the Flyers is when he speaks for himself.

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