Ilya Bryzgalov, the enigmatic Russian goalkeeper of the Flyers has certainly turned a corner as of late.
Bryz started the year off strong, registering the first Flyers shutout in over a year against the Devils in the second game of the season. As the season started to get rolling, Bryzgalov started to stutter. He didn't seem to have a lot of confidence, Captain and star defenseman Chris Pronger was injured and the defense started to fall apart, and Bryz just didn't seem to fit in with the team. He was even benched for the Winter Classic game, the most anticipated game of the regular season.
Fans wanted Bryz gone. It was as simple as that. People felt he would bring the team down, especially considering he signed a nine year contract this past summer. Bryz seemed annoyed by the media and it didn't look like he had what it takes to be a goaltender in Philadelphia.
Then came the All-Star Break. With a few days off, the whole team had a chance to rest. Bryzgalov started to look a lot better in net, he seemed more comfortable.
On February 25th, Bryzgalov did something that he hasn't done much of this year; win in a shootout. He seemed on point and that was when things started changing for the entire team. Alternate Captain Danny Briere mentioned in an interview that Ilya has been a better teammate as of late. He knows it's not just about him and the media, it's about the team and winning games.
Ilya Bryzgalov used to play for the Phoenix Coyotes and knows what it's like to carry a team to the playoffs. He is used to a humongous big work load and it seems he will get another chance to make a big difference down the stretch into the playoffs.
Just three games after the Flyers defeated Calgary in the shootout, Bryzgalov posted a shutout against the high-powered Washington Capitals, just his third of the year. This was the official turning point for Bryz. He went from a "Bryzaster" to being "strictly Bryzness" as he put up 4 shutouts in 5 games.
Just yesterday against the New York Islanders, Ilya Bryzgalov set a new Flyers record for longest streak by a goalie without letting up a goal. He surpassed John VanBiesbrouck by going 249:43 scoreless minutes.
Congratulations to Ilya Bryzgalov for turning this team around and for etching himself into the Flyers record books.