This season hasn't been a bed of roses for Ilya Bryzgalov
, but a quality stretch run could change the fantasy perception of the veteran netminder.
With two separate losing streaks of more than four games this season, along with his team's struggles against the East-leading New York Rangers
through five meetings, Bryzgalov has failed to produce the return expected by his fantasy owners, who nabbed him in the second round of their drafts on average. That being said, his current stretch of strong play is beginning to turn the tide for him, which is good news for the Flyers considering Bryzgalov is in just the first of nine seasons in Philly.
Bryzgalov (owned in 95 percent of Yahoo! leagues) is coming off one of his most complete performances of the season, a 34-save shutout of the Washington Capitals
on Sunday at the Verizon Center. Over his last six outings, Bryzgalov has put forth a 4-2-0 mark, allowing two goals or less in three of those six starts.
But despite his recent production hike, the 31-year-old still only stands as the 23rd-best fantasy netminder in this week's NHL.com goaltending rankings for a reason. His goals-against average and save percentage are simply sub-par, which is why he's ranked behind even Brian Elliott
and Evgeni Nabokov
-- who have played in 15 and 11 less games, respectively, than Bryzgalov this season.
So here's the quandary: Because Brzgalov (24-13-6, 2.72, .901, 3 SO) is not a keeper in most leagues, he is expendable in the event that you are able to improve your roster either in the short- or long-term. But as the fantasy trade deadline and playoffs loom in most leagues, can you logically part ways with a starting netminder who has the support of an offense that sports a League-best average of 3.25 goals-per-game?
It's no secret that Bryzgalov has taken the patience of his fantasy owners to the brink this season, but if you've stuck with him this far, you owe it to yourself to ride out his current stretch of strong play. As he gets set for his ninth consecutive start for the Flyers Tuesday against the injury-depleted Detroit Red Wings
, another opportunity presents itself for Bryzgalov to continue the turnaround.
And after all, a goaltender that is frequently starting for a playoff contending team should be valued from a fantasy perspective.