Flyers goalie poised for a turnaround
Ilya Bryzgalov apparently has found his way out of the woods.
One day after he allowed four goals on 10 shots in a relief role, the Flyers' struggling goalie had his "swagger" back on Friday, according to Jeff Reese, the respected goalie coach and a man who has to be an amateur psychologist, trying to get the veteran back on track.
The Flyers did not practice, but they had a team meeting at the SkateZone in Voorhees. Reese had a long one-on-one session with Bryzgalov, who has lost four in a row and has a 5.05 goals-against average and an .802 save percentage in that span.
"He felt great today. He came in with his swagger, and it's important that his teammates saw him come in like that," Reese said. "He was joking around and laughing, and I think that was very important. He's going to turn this around - no question."
After surrendering three third-period goals in Thursday's wild, 9-8 loss to lowly Winnipeg at the Wells Fargo Center, Bryzgalov said that he was "lost in the woods" and that he had "zero confidence."
Signed to a nine-year, $51 million contract in the offseason, Bryzgalov apologized to the fans and his teammates after Thursday's defeat.
Reese said he thought Bryzgalov, a former Phoenix star, was being "too hard on himself," and said a lot of the goals against him Thursday - and throughout the early part of the season - were on fluky deflections.
"I really don't want to go into what I said to [Bryzgalov] this morning, but it is my job to instill confidence in him," Reese said. "And I'll tell you what, things are going to turn. To me, he still is one of the top five goaltenders in the league."
Entering Friday, Bryzgalov was 50th in the NHL with a 3.45 goals-against average (tied with Vancouver's Roberto Luongo), and his .870 save percentage was 52d.
"In all fairness . . . we've had some strange bounces in these last few games, and you can lose your confidence," Reese said. "Right now, he's in a different situation than he's ever been in before. He's in a different market. I think maybe there are some things that, instead of just going out there and worrying about stopping the puck, he's gotten himself involved in some other things with the press and Twitter. He's just got to simplify and go out and stop the puck."
Bryzgalov is expected to start Saturday night against visiting Carolina.