Sorry, I would normally post a picture here but we’re having technical issues. Just pretend I have a picture of Byzgalov high-fiving with Timonen, similar to this one: http://scores.espn.go.com/nhl/photos?gameId=400046922&photoId=1727311.
There were a lot of positives in last nights 3-2 Flyers win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The thing that stood out to me the most was the solid play of Ilya Bryzgalov. Reporters can rave about his third period performance when he stopped 13 of 14 shots. But I think they’re missing out on the big picture.
In the first two periods, the Penguins didn’t have a ton of shots (13 total), but quite a few of them were good chances. And almost everything they sent at Bryz, he knocked away. What looked different was that he didn’t make his own job more difficult. All season long, he had coughed up rebounds into the slot or right to the opposite circle from where the shot came. A lot of times he was saved because there was nobody in position to bang it home. Last night he looked a lot sharper. It seemed that everything at his chest or glove was swallowed up. Every other shot that he could get a piece of was directed into the corners.
What impresses me more is that it happened in a game where he had played the night before. He was sharp all night long. There wasn’t a single moment last night where I was cursing him for some stupid mistake. And this is the second time in two weeks where he played on back to back nights and held the fort down. Going into the game, it seemed to me that Laviolette was challenging his star goalie to live up to his reputation. He’s a guy known to be a horse that can carry a team, yet he’s been extremely subpar. By having him play in back to back games two weeks in a row, it was a chance for him to show his worth to his teammates, and regain some confidence.
I think the team is starting to get used to him. Both he and the defenders have mentioned at various times that there were communication issues that they were working on. I didn’t see any misplayed passes last night. He stopped dump ins and let the d-men get the puck. We didn’t see any of those passes when guys expected him to leave the puck alone. These are minor details, but it’s the little things that can change a game. And finally, at least for one night, it all seemed to come together.
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