It is no secret to Flyers Faithful fans that this squad's ship has not been a stable one from this past Thursday and now, into this weekend's action, thus far. This fan does not believe in the ideal of blaming one individual on any team for mishpass or looses suffered; however, even Laviolette had commented since Thursday's game in the Nassau Coliseum as to how key the position of goalie is to any hockey team.
Flyers fans also know this all too well.
Has Bryzgalov possibly gotten a bit tired and lapse, or has his confidence waivered some recently? Both these scenarios are indeed possible, but what the fans need to keep in mind is that this happens to every goalie, whether they play in the NHL, or anywhere else.
Recap: Nassau Coliseum (Thursday):
The Flyers did pull out a win facing the Islanders, this past Thursday; however, it was not the 'fly-by' win that the team has been pulling off over the last five weeks (*with the exception of a NJ loss). The Islanders came within minutes and one goal of tying that game and way too close to possibly forcing and overtime or shootout situation.
The Flyers built up a 3-0 lead and held onto it, heading into the third period. This game was not to become yet another record setting shutout, though, as Michael Grabner blasted one past Bryz at 13:30 of the third period and not long after at all--John Travares fired another rocket behind Bryz at 14:05 to bring the Isles within one measley goal of getting back into this competition.
Even as Bryzgalov looked a bit 'shaky' after these two goals, he and the squad were able to hold onto the one goal lead and finish regulation time one ahead for the win.
Boston Bruins - TD Garden (Sunday):
"And there was 'dancing'." There is always 'dancing' to be expected in a Bruins - Flyers showdown, and this game did not disappoint any fan on the physical, such as myself.
The Flyers pulled into Boston following their Thursday game to an early Friday morning to practice on Boston University ice. Obviously Laviolette saw the slight urgency to work his team in order to get his players prepared for a battle at the TD Garden the following afternoon. Granted this made for tight travel and a heavy workout, I am sure prior to this big game--but how else would one 'gauge' where his team is for a game so crucial?
The Flyers and Bruins skated onto the TD Garden ice, to a packed house--and we all know the Garden is anything but quiet. If there is any fan base that comapares to Philly's loud, vocal and at times obnoxious nature, it is indeed the Boston fans!
This fan wondered how Bryzgalov was 'feeling' skating out there into this fan chaos, following the ending of the game on Thursday evening...this was yet to be seen. The next 60 minutes would provide that answer.
The Bruins had allowed 21 goals over the last four games, losing all of them. They had given up the first goal in seven straight games heading into this match up.
But they took the early lead 6:23 into the first period when Kelly knocked in a rebound of Benoit Pouliot's shot. They made it 2-0 when Patrice Bergeron made a pass from behind the net to Seguin on the side of the crease and he put it in with 2:53 left in the first.
So, it was difficult to 'gear' if it was on Bryz, or if it was a currently seventh placed team's desparation simply firing any attempts at our net. Whichever the case, our squad found themselves down by two at the end of the first period--for the first time in a while. Bryz did not look 'shaken' though, as he had in the Isles match up.
Read and Voracek then drove solid efforts upon Tim Thomas, over the second and third periods. They were successful in tying this game up and that is how regulation would come to it's ticking end. It was refreshing to see Voracek back and strong in the scoring deparmtent.
Now we simply had to win in overtime--in order to avoid a shootout--as these are not our start goalie's strong point. This was not in the cards for the Flyers this Saturday afternoon. We entered a shootout that appeared as desparate to the Flyers, as it did to the Bruins squad. This close to the playoffs what shootout is not a desparate setting?
The shootout went down...'BAM', one puck in after another, on every shot taken on either goalie. Again locked at a tie.
Danny Briere was the next to shoot against Tim Thomas, to keep us alive in this game. He was not able to beat Thomas, as it appeared Briere found himself in too close to the net and he may have pulled up a bit, just prior to his wind up.
After the first five skaters in the shootout all scored, Thomas turned aside Danny Briere as the Bruins recovered after blowing a two-goal lead to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 on this Saturday afternoon.
So, congrats to Thomas and the Bruins, as they now jump into first again in the Northeast Division and second overall in the Eastern Conference...for now.
Prior to this loss Bryzgalov had won seven in a row, posting a 0.99 goals-against average. It was a great run that no one can take away from him, Bryz just may need to continue to work a bit on a more consistent means of performing. This fan did wonder if this newly found 'confidence' was going to last or if he would simply ride it until the wave tossed him.
One important key here is this, any sportsman or figure must still work everyday to continue to strengthern and improve...no matter who they are or how successful they may be at any moment.
A lesson to learn from Luongo in the Cup Finals of last year is that the moment you rest on your 'laurels' or talents (and run your mouth), is the same moment that you can blow a very important game, or two...or three. Just a fan's suggestion!
The Flyers next face the Penguins, on home ice later today @ 3:00 PM. The game is televised on the NBC Network. Needless to say, this is another crucial game, as they all are from this point to the end of the season--another battle that our squad needs to prepare for.
As I opened with, I do not like to 'blame' any one player, but I think all Philly fans have come to know just how key the position of goalie is to our squad. My city and it's fans have watched this squad struggle to win and dominate consistently minus a solid, consistently performing player in our net for some time now. So, let's work it back to where it was five weeks ago and go 'get em'.
Here's to Bryz getting things 'lined up' again and our squad trumping the Pens, as we should have trumped Boston in this last match. Let us fans hope this loss gets chalked up to a bizarre 'three-hour tour' and back on track. GO FLYERS!!
**Video of the shootout is provided; however, it is not in English...maybe turn the sound off! It is difficult enough to watch again, silently...