April 14, 2012

All about Bryz.

It's about so much more than Ilya Bryzgalov.

But in the end, it's only about Ilya Bryzgalov.

In the first round of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers used three different goaltenders.

In 2012, there is only Bryz.

Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux both had hat tricks last night in Pittsburgh to steal an unbelievable 8-5 win over the Penguins.

But the highlight turned out to be this game-changing Bryzgalov save.

It's weird to look at a high-scoring game like this and point to goaltending as a key factor, but no Philadelphia fan would ever shortchange what Ilya Bryzgalov brought to the table in Game 2.

Maybe he wasn't the deciding factor, but it's become surprisingly comforting to see Bryz in the Flyers' net.

There was chaos all over the ice. Shots were coming from every angle, goals were being scored at an incredible pace. Sidney Crosby, Giroux and Evgeni Malkin -- the three best players in the National Hockey League -- seemingly lurked around every corner. Fans on either side of the rivalry were terrified.

But Bryz -- despite Pittsburgh's 28 shots, despite a minor freakout following the Penguins' fourth goal of the night, despite a reputation of coming up short in the playoffs -- never lost his cool.

This wasn't a game about save percentage or goals against average. It was about survival, and at the end Ilya Bryzgalov stood triumphant while Stanley Cup-winning goalie Marc-Andre Fleury floundered.

In Philadelphia, it's always about the goaltending.

And for the first time in a long time, Philadelphia has a goaltender they can stand behind.

No comments: