All eyes have been on Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov from the moment his rights were traded to Philly in June of 2011.
Bryzgalov was expected to be the “missing piece” that the Flyers have lacked since the likes of Hextall and Parent. Flyers brass wasted no time trying to negotiate a new deal with Ilya, and ultimately signed him to a whopping nine year, $51 million deal. Needless to say, many Flyers fans collectively went insane shortly thereafter.
With such a big money contract, Flyers fans (and the organization) had high hopes that he would be a superior goaltender and that he would steal many games for Philadelphia. Unfortunately, it didn’t exactly happen that way.
Flyers fans began to turn on Bryzgalov during the year. Philly media ate it up and pointed out every single flaw he made. People jumped on the “Bryzgalov sucks” bandwagon. Not cool. That is not what Philly is about.
While Bryzgalov is undoubtedly a great goaltender, I feel as though many fans – and especially the media – put way too much pressure on Ilya during the year. Yes, he played some awful games, but he also played some great games as well.
People are very quick to point out his flaws, but won’t give him credit for the good things he has done. Does anybody remember when he was one of the top goalies in the NHL for the month of March?
I admit I am a Bryzgalov defender, and it is my personal belief that Ilya returns to his “Phoenix” form next season and silences his critics. With a year in Philly under his belt, I expect him to handle the pressure better and focus more on his game. Without getting too off topic, let me ask my readers.
What do YOU think? Does Bryzgalov have a bounce back year? Or will he succumb to the pressure and crumble?
Is this a “make or break” year for him?
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