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Bryzgalov dazzled against Devils in regular season

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Bryzgalov dazzled against Devils in regular season
It's been an up-and-down season for Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, but his four-game mark against the Devils this season has been sensational.

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Often what happens in the regular season absolutely has no bearing on what could happen in a playoff series. The Flyers are hoping goalie Ilya Bryzgalov bucks that trend against the Devils in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Bryzgalov was one shot away from being perfect against New Jersey in the regular season. He faced 76 shots and made 75 saves over 209 minutes of action in four games, shutting out the Devils twice in three starts. His goals-against average against New Jersey was an astonishing 0.29 and his save percentage was a remarkable .987.

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"That's always reassuring when your goalie feels good against certain teams," Flyers center Danny Briere said. "Matchups are sometimes very key in the playoffs depending on how you feel against certain opponents. That Bryz has played good all year (against the Devils), that's a big plus."

The Flyers will take any kind of plus when it comes to Bryzgalov, who struggled in the first five games against the Penguins before authoring a confidence-building 30-save performance in their 5-1 win in Game 6. Of course, the Flyers blocked 40 shots in front of Bryzgalov in that game, but he at least stopped most of the rubber that came his way.

"If we can build on the Game 6 we had against the Penguins, we'll have a really solid defensive game," forward Maxime Talbot said.

Bryzgalov's numbers against the Devils help buoy Philadelphia's confidence, but that doesn't mean it will translate into success in the second round.

"At the same time you can't get too comfortable," center Claude Giroux said. "It's the playoffs, not the regular season. He did a good job in Round 1 and we expect the same from him. He's one of the best goalies in the League. We expect the best out of him."

They'll need it, especially if Martin Brodeur is going to be at his best on the other end. Brodeur made 43 saves to lift the Devils to a 3-2 double-overtime victory in Game 7 at Florida on Thursday.

Brodeur won four games and had a 2.06 GAA and .922 save percentage in the first-round series against Florida.

Bryzgalov won the same amount of games while posting a 3.89 GAA and .871 save percentage against the Penguins. Granted, he was facing the highest-scoring team in the regular season.

"Our first-round opponent was a dangerous team and they're going to score goals," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "With regard to Bryz, everybody has a lot of confidence in how he's playing right now."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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