By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – To say that this season has been full of ups and downs for Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov would be an understatement of epic proportions. After his lowest point of the season just a few weeks ago, complimented by some questionable comments about playing in Philadelphia, the last stretch of games he’s played may have be his highest point to date.
“If Bryz is performing well, it all makes us look better. It all starts with Bryz, and the way he’s been leading us lately,” Danny Briere told 94WIP’s Michael Barkann and Ike Reese on Wednesday, the day after a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings, their third straight victory. Bryzgalov is 6-2 in his last eight games, including a 1-0 win over the Washington Capitals.
Many have credited his success to a Flyers team meeting, that supposedly focused on Bryzgalov’s need to be more of a team player. “It wasn’t a meeting to call him out. It was a meeting about everybody. To get everybody on the same page. And you get him going the way he is lately, it changes everything. He gives us a lot of confidence,” Briere said.
Randy J. Miller, Flyers beat writer for the South Jersey Courier Post, thinks that Bryzgalov thrives on positive reinforcement. “He’s a guy that needs a pat on the back. And when he’s going well, he can really, really go well. But when he gives up a bad goal or two, he can really get in a funk,” he told 94WIP’s Angelo Cataldi and The Morning Team on Wednesday. “It’s just confidence. And when he gives up a bad goal and hears some boos, it gets in his head.”
Now that Bryagalov has seen how difficult Philadelphia fans can be when he’s playing poorly, he’s also seeing how supportive they can be when he plays well. “I know he loves playing here in the city, I know he loves playing for these fans, I know he wants to win a Cup here so bad,” Miller said. He also says Bryzgalov knows when he’ll be most accepted, when he brings home what Flyers fans want most. “As he’s told me in one on one talks, “when I win the Cup in this town, they’re going to love me forever.'”
Listen to the full interview with Randy J. Miller: