Bryzgalov shoulders blame for goaltending meltdown
The Philadelphia Flyers re-worked their team this summer to stabilize their goaltending position. But in the course of a week, all their hopes appear to have gone away in a blaze of red lights.
Ilya Bryzgalov, signed to a nine-year, $51 million contract in June with the hope that he could finally settle one of the more unsettled positions in the game, allowed four goals on 10 shots and suffered his fourth straight defeat in Thursday's wild 9-8 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
After starting the season 4-0-1, the Flyers are 1-4-0, and have allowed four or more goals in four of their last five games.
Bryzgalov has allowed 18 goals in his last four games, and at least four in all four of them.
"I have zero confidence in myself right now," he told reporters after Thursday's game. "If you probably throw a ball instead of a puck, I couldn't stop it. I am terrible. I will now apologize in front of the fans, in front of my teammates. I don't know what's going on. I have no answer for you guys. I thought in the last game against Montreal (when he allowed five goals on 28 shots Wednesday), that nothing worse was going to happen. Today was worse."
Teammates, however, weren't about to lay full blame at the skates of their netminder.
"I don't think it's right to just blame one guy on that," forward Danny Briere said. "There were breakdowns left and right. We were all responsible for goals here and there … I don't think it's right for us to just blame the goaltenders. We also have a lot to look in the mirror at ourselves."
"It wasn't our goalie's fault," added defenseman Kimmo Timonen. "It was the whole team. It's hard to make saves when it's coming straight at the net. It's everybody’s fault. It's not the goalie's fault; it's defense, forwards -- everybody included."
The question now becomes where does Flyers coach Peter Laviolette turn next? As bad as Bryzgalov has been, Sergei Bobrovsky wasn't much better Thursday. He started Thursday's game and allowed five goals on just 15 shots before being pulled.
Laviolette won't have long to answer that question, as the Flyers host the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
The coach wasn't ready to pick a goalie to play against the Hurricanes, but said he still has confidence in Bryzgalov.
"There is a lot of confidence in him and what he has done in the past," Laviolette said. "There is confidence in our ability to play, but we have work to do so we will continue to do it."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK