What happened during last night's 4 - 2 loss to the Leafs is something Ilya Bryzgalov's got to expect from time to time; Boo Birds.
When you sign a 9-year, $51M ($5.667M AAV) contract, anchored with a No-Movement clause, then you're just asking for all the weight of high expectations to lean on your shoulders.
Then again....the beauty of preseason hockey is the chance it gives the participants to shake off the rust, eliminate the butterflies, and set a tone for the beginning of the regular schedule. Apparently, a group of Flyers fans completely disregarded this fact after our Sickle & Hammer in net allowed his third goal of the evening.
As the goal lamp spun behind Bryz's neck, ears perked up on the Russian puck stopper while the sounds of dissatisfied spectators mercilessly pounded through the holes of his Siberian tiger mask. Naturally, I'm home on the couch shaking my head, cursing the hockey gods for not allowing Ilya to - at the very least - have a good performance in his first outing as a Flyer. Though I wouldn't have partaken in the rowdy negativity, I certainly understood where everyone was coming from.
Regardless of the strong productions from some of our newcomers two nights ago, there was no question Holmgren's moves would be put under the microscope the hardest once Bryzgalov got his first start between the pipes. I know for sure Ilya is a very effective man at his craft. He'll get us our shut outs. He'll end the season with a very respectable save percentage. I'm just hoping he's able to shake off this 21 for 24 performance. For the sake of himself, I hope he does it quickly.
Bryz has an extremely small margin for error. Especially this early in his tenure with Philadelphia. But I'm not going to harp on one night's loss in a preseason tilt. The only thing is......this wasn't JUST a preseason game for Bryzgalov. It was an opportunity to paint this town red with Mother Russia. Instead, it's left a fanbase reaching for excuses in a pitch black room.