It seems as if head coach Peter Laviolette has the number 35 written on his calendar whenever the Flyers play the Islanders. Tonight will be no different as the young Bobrovsky will get the start against a team that he has flat out dominated. In seven games against the Long Island hockey club he is undefeated, with a 1.86 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage.
These two teams met exactly one week ago with the Flyers coming out on top 3-2, despite being outshot 35-22 by the Isles. Those numbers are not deceiving.
The Flyers were severely outplayed in that contest and were saved, pun intended, by Bobrovsky. He stoned Michael Grabner on an early penalty shot in the first period and was outstanding on a couple of late flurries by the Islanders. He finished the game with 33 saves, but more importantly got a gritty type of win that this team has not been able to achieve for most of this season due to the poor goaltending.
In fact it was the second game in a row that Bobrovsky earned a tough win for a team that was outplayed.
On the Tuesday before the Isles game the Flyers suited up on the road against the Hurricanes and were outplayed by a streaky Carolina team. It was once again up to Bobs to pull out a win and he came through by making 35 stops on 36 shots. After two impressive outings it would make sense for him to get the start against Nashville and complete a sweep on the road trip right?
Wrong, Bryzgalov was awarded the start and gave up three goals on 24 shots, only further muddling the goalie situation. Earlier this week Laviolette announced to the press that Bryz was still indeed the number one goalie going forward.
The head coach inserted Bryzgalov back into the net right away this past Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. He had a solid outing from a numbers standpoint, 25 saves on 26 shots, but the Wild only sustained serious pressure twice and is a team that is averaging 1.69 goals per game since December 13th. It was a game that he should have dominated and by doing so gives his confidence a much needed boost and he’ll need all the confidence he can gather with the dreaded Bruins coming to town on Sunday.
The day before that game Bryzgalov will get another chance to boost his confidence as the team takes the bus up to Newark to play the Devils at the Prudential Center. It was in that arena that Bryz delivered the only shutout this season. I can think of nothing better than for Bryzgalov to shut the Devils out again and ride a wave of serious momentum against a Boston team that the Flyers desperately need a win against because it certainly appears as if the road to the Stanley Cup in the East will once again run through bean town.