• January 23, 2022

Marian Gaborik’s Goal Could Permanently Wound The Flyers

If there is anything that Flyer fans have learned about Ilya Bryzgalov throughout the course of his rollercoaster first season in Orange and Black it’s that his game is all about confidence. When he is confident, he is a top-flight netminder that is incredibly tough to beat. When he isn’t confident, it isn’t pretty.

Well, the confidence rollercoaster that is Ilya Bryzgalov may have nosedived and crashed and burned Sunday at Madison Square Garden with Marian Gaborik’s debilitating late second period goal.

With just a measly 5.1 seconds left in the second period of Super Bowl Sunday’s matinee in New York, prized Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik, with a defender draped all over him, wrapped his way to the front of the net and weakly one-handed a backhander along the ice that rolled up Bryzgalov’s downed stick paddle, found a hole and dribbled across the goal line to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

It could have very well been the worst goal Bryzgalov has given up all season and could very well timelessly damage the Flyers’ Stanley Cup hopes for this season.

Some Flyers fans are clamoring for Sergei Bobrovsky to be anointed the permanent starter. While Bob has played extremely well and deserves playing time, the fact of the matter is this: the Flyers are going nowhere without Ilya Bryzgalov being the number one backstop.

Like it or not, he’s the guy. He NEEDS to be the guy. It’s the reason Paul Holmgren freed up all the cap space over the summer. It’s the reason he was signed to the humongous, big nine-year, $51 million contract. While he may not have shown it as much as Flyer fans would like so far this season, Bryzgalov is a legitimate number one goaltender in this league.

That’s why Gaborik’s feeble late second period tally hurts so much.

Bryz was having a good week in giving up one regulation goal to both Winnipeg and Nashville. He then shut out the Devils in a bullpen appearance on Saturday. His confidence was clearly high. Sunday’s game looked to be much of the same. That was until the end of the second period.

Big game, maybe the biggest of the season. Terrible goal. Paralyzing goal in a big game = a confidence plummet of Titanic like proportions.

In CSNPhilly.com’s Sarah Baicker’s game story, Bryzgalov is quoted as saying “Mistakes happen. That’s part of the game.” True, but it was easy to tell that Bryzgalov was shaken.

Only 36 seconds after the Flyers tied the game at the start of the third period, New York defenseman Michael Del Zotto beat Bryzgalov on an easily stoppable one-timer that allowed the Rangers to regain a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Would Bryz have made that stop if he hadn’t given up the rotten goal to Gaborik? We’ll never know but the odds would certainly have been higher.

Was it the pressure of the game? Or was it the bright Madison Square Garden lights getting to his head? Maybe it was the raucous Ranger crowd on his nerves? One thing is for sure: his confidence most certainly took a Tyson-like right hook.

That’s why this week is a huge week for Ilya Bryzgalov. Those frail goals won’t be easy to forget. Those are the kinds that stick around in the back of a goaltender’s mind. With three formidable opponents in the Islanders, Maple Leafs, and those pesky Rangers again, coming to the Wells Fargo Center this week, Bryz has the chance to redeem himself and get his game and, much more importantly, his confidence back on track.

Strong performances this week could set him up for the rest of the season, especially if he is able to exercise those Ranger demons. Inadequate performances could have him back out in the woods. (Remember the 9-8 Winnipeg game earlier this season? I know you do.)

For a guy whose game is all about confidence and having a certain swagger, this could be the biggest week of his career.

If things go well, hallelujah! If things go south, we all can look back to Marian Gaborik’s second period goal on Sunday, February 5th as the exact moment that the Flyers’ 2011-2012 season suffered a permanent wound.

Greg Paone

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  • Just look at Bryz SAve % .. He has amongst the lowest in the NHL for Goalies playing 25 GAmes or more.. It’s like a .890 SAve % which is not going to get it done.. Just like a ERA is a very good indicator of a Starting Pitchers Performance, the Save % is also for NHL Goalies and Bryz ranks near the bottom… Case closed, this fella is not a big time Goalie and cannot handle the pressure of playing on a team with high expectations as I suspected and stated when they signed him…

  • Bryz is not what fans hoped for, but you’d need a Brodeur at the height of his career right now to cover up for the rotten team defense the Flyers have played. These guys have been terrible anticipating and covering around the goal… too many of opposition have walked around from behind to feed the open man on opposite side or out front. Poor back-checking/staying with their man in own zone. Nobody is knocking forwards on their butts and it’s embarrassing how this team plays at home! Bryz better suck it up fast and hold fort down as much as possible until this team improves defensively – by FA, trade or draft. Holmgren/Snyder won’t keep any goalie on this team who can’t play consistently in net and steal some games every so often. The kids (Cotourier, Read, Schenn) need strength conditioning and more aggressive forecheck for next season. Meszaros may be good offensively, but he stinks at breaking down attackers and clearing the front porch!

  • The defense has been bad, but you are placing way to much blame on them. Bryz’ positioning is off, he is slow and doesn’t control rebounds. For as many goals that are let in because of defensive breakdowns, he also lets in a soft goal. They definitely need to be stronger defensively, but he has been a 50 million dollar disgrace.

  • Should Coach LAv, get fired, or the Goalie Coach get fired or GM Holmgrem..
    When players on the Eagles screw up and underperform, everyone wants the Coaches to be fired… When it’s the Flyers Players, It’s what…give him more time, don’t be hard on them he’s stil adjusting to the team, the player is young, still learning,he’s from Eastern Europe..etc,etc..
    Always a double-standard with the Flyers Players and Organization..

  • Bryzgalov stink right now, and inspires no confidence…Defense is like a sieve and is not physical enough.

    And shootouts?…What the hell is going on here?…Team filled with shooter like Giroux, Jagr, Briere, yet they fold like noodle ramen when it counts in shootout…

    The Flyers are simply not finishers right now, lack essential toughness, and are sloppy, just like our football team.

    Defense the biggest problem, but goalie MUST step up and shut other team down sometimes…Looks like Bryzgalov another over paid head case.

  • Flyers finish as a 5th/6th Seed and get bounced out in the 1st Round of Playoffs versus the Rangers or Penquins..

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