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Can the Bryz bounce back?

Jul 23, 2012, 1:53 PM EDT

Ilya Bryzgalov Getty Images

Ilya Bryzgalov flew far from under the radar during his first season with the Flyers. In fact, if he were a fighter pilot, he’d have been blown out of the sky by the end of October.

Signed to a nine-year, $51 million contract in June, Bryzgalov was supposed to bring stability to a position that had been anything but stable in Philadelphia since, well, a long time ago.

He started out decently enough, winning his first two games and allowing just one goal in the process.

Then it got interesting.

Now, it’s not our intention to use Flyers Day on PHT to look back on Bryzgalov’s tumultuous season. (Feel free to search his name for that. Enjoy the 1,073 posts.)

Our intention is to look forward to 2012-13. Specifically, can the 32-year-old Russian rediscover the form that earned him the big contract in the first place?

From 2007-08 to 2010-11 with the Coyotes, Bryzgalov was one of the NHL’s elite goalies. During his last season in Phoenix, he went 36-20-10 with a .921 save percentage and seven shutouts.

Yet despite those numbers, everyone knew the Flyers were taking a considerable risk by locking him up for nine years.

First off, Bryzgalov had never played in a high-pressure market like Philadelphia. Suffice to say his eccentricities didn’t get as much play in Phoenix.

Second, the Coyotes play a defense-first system under coach Dave Tippett, and defense-first systems often mean fewer quality shots against. As a result, goalies can have their save percentages inflated.

Philadelphia, of course, plays a very different style than Phoenix, and Chris Pronger’s absence for all but 13 games didn’t help shore things up on the back end.

For optimistic Flyers fans, Bryzgalov now knows exactly what he’s gotten himself into by signing in Philadelphia. If the media caught him off guard when he first arrived, it won’t this time. Nor will HBO cameras be stalking him.

Bryzgalov will also be familiar with the players in front of him, save for new additions Luke Schenn and, possibly, Shea Weber.

Speaking of Weber, it’s hard for a goalie to get worse with the addition of one of the best defenseman in the league.

Optimists will also take comfort in Bryzgalov’s post All-Star Game numbers (.929 SV%) compared to the ones prior to Jan. 29 (.895 SV%).

For pessimists, it’s hard to overlook what happened in the playoffs when Bryzgalov allowed 37 goals in 11 games. (To put that in perspective, Jonathan Quick allowed 29 goals in 20 games.)

Obviously we don’t know if Bryzgalov will bounce back. But what we do know is he’s used his mulligan. Another less-than-stellar season and that contract looks a lot longer.

Related: Offseason Report: Philadelphia Flyers

  1. phillyphever - Jul 23, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    I’ll give his first year a pass considering the environment was new to him. This year….he better produce, or else he might want to hire a good real estate agent.

  2. illcomm - Jul 23, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Bryg season numbers were about the same as the previous. he was a major upgrade over the goalie switch season from before. yeah his gaa was high in the playoffs, but the flyers weren’t playing defense at all.

  3. lloydpricessister - Jul 23, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    haha this guy is the biggest joke in the nhl. i love how philthy overpaid for this bum. STAY THICK

    • phillyphever - Jul 23, 2012 at 2:24 PM

      Still mad about us beating up Rosebud in the playoffs huh?

  4. jacketsfan7 - Jul 23, 2012 at 2:20 PM


  5. lloydpricessister - Jul 23, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    wow, philthy fans are pretty sour still about us gamechanging their asses in 2009. How did that feel? beat up on ur filthy flyers only to go on and win soup cans cup. that must have been painful to watch.. HHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAAAAHAHAHA SUCK OUR SOUP CANS LOSERS 1975

    • govtminion - Jul 23, 2012 at 3:52 PM

      You mean back when Bryzgalov was still in Phoenix, making this little troll post of yours completely irrelevant to the article?

  6. tbbolts91 - Jul 23, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    I think he’s one of those goalies that perform better in the western conference. just like jaroslav halak. i do think that bryzgalov can improve though, maybe not to how he was playing though

  7. fortwaynekomets - Jul 23, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    he is a good goalie, he just needs to stay away from media and he will keep more fans.

    plus, no matter who you are, Philly will love you of you can save goals and perform. that’s all that matters.

  8. phipfwe76 - Jul 23, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    I’m a Flyers fan and I never saw the fuss anyway. Bounce back from what? His season was just like any other during his career so far. Bringing him to Philly wasn’t going to make him a top 10 goalie out of nowhere. He actually lowered his career GAA and save % this last season. We got exactly what was expected.

    • phipfwe76 - Jul 23, 2012 at 4:42 PM

      Meant to say he lowered his career GAA. His save % was right about on par (.909 last year, .915 for his career)

  9. mclovinhockey - Jul 23, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    I like the overreaction by guywith10000namesandnoIQ.

    Get over it, we beat you guys and the entire league was talking trash on your team for diving and all the cheap shots.

  10. jnealsmanmeat - Jul 23, 2012 at 5:39 PM

    Just face the fact that the @soupcanarmy dominates PHT and our numbers are increasing every minute. We will soon outnumber the daily amount of bodybags used in the landfill we call Filly. SCA

  11. raoool - Jul 23, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    nobody beats the Bryz?

    …or a Flyers Bryzaster?

    we’ll see

    (no pressure, Bryz 😉

  12. mweist11 - Jul 23, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    I don’t understand the “soupcan” reference. I’m assuming it means someone on the Pens isn’t very well endowed. And you are completely obsessed with Pens players groin areas. Are you a groupie? And if so, how many of them have you “scored?”

  13. dawglb - Jul 24, 2012 at 12:30 AM

    There are a lot of haters out there….. The facts are, it was his worst season in a while, the environment was 180 degrees different than his last, and yet he showed what he is capable of at times….6 shutouts…. Etc. The best is yet to come!!

  14. dannythebisforbeast - Jul 24, 2012 at 1:35 AM

    Guywith1000namesandnoIQ. Haha

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