Close your eyes and imagine - for a moment - a far away land where employers hire normal people, to do normal jobs, but with paygrades and contracts similar to those of NHL hockey players today.
The employer hires you to a 9-year, $51-Million tenure to sit at the helm of some nuclear power plant and make sure it doesn't meltdown every so often. Considering you're one of the best at your trade , you figure this to be no problem and even your minimal efforts would result in success.
But something happens. What began as mediocrity turned out to be a major case of failure and disgruntlement. Only a handful of months into your vocation, this nuclear power plant you were hired to guard has disabled and melted down more often than it hasn't, threatening the livelihoods of the townspeople existing on the outskirts of the plant.
Your performance is suspect at best, and you've left NO ONE feeling positive. Instead, your very existence at this power plant has left those around you drowning in apprehension and panic.
Then all of a sudden......the townspeople remember you're employed for another eight and a half years to come.
Alright, yes, I'm being over-dramatic. I'm painting a picture with blood and thunder, but how am I (or you, for that matter) supposed to feel after that illimitable disgrace of a game last night?
Blame whatever the hell you want on our defense, but the fact is they still only allowed a total of sixteen shots on Bryzgalov's net. Our extremely expensive puck-stopper fended off eleven of those attempts, ending the evening in a miserable 5 - 1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
And just in case you're trying to do the math in your head, that incredible save percentage boils down to a whopping 0.688.
Lucky for us, Ilya fully grasps the seriousness of his bottomless, shitty effort --
Yea, that's our franchise goalie dropping the F-bomb on a LIVE, post-game interview.
Enough's enough. I could care less what this guy says to the mic and camera any longer. I couldn't give less of a damn about his perspective of the solar system, the universe, his incredible sexy huskies or the tigers on the labels of his liquor.
The hilarity has run its course.
That man signs and deposits a check each week that would make Oprah Winfrey moist. At this point, as far as I'm concerned, Bryzgalov doesn't even have a mouth and the ability to speak. His words, phrases, quips and "Bryzisms" mean less than Christmas Tinsel-covered dog shit.
Many believe the man can't do much when our defense isn't clearing opponents and pucks away from the front of his net. I'm not completely psychotic. I get it. Bryzgalov's gonna get scored on no matter how great he is.
But sixteen shots? TOTAL? And he stopped eleven of them?
It seems Bryz has wondered back into those "Lost Woods" of his.
Good. Throw him in a box, hand him a zippo and a bottle of water, and tell him to wait it the fuck out. Give Sergei Bobrovsky a handful of consecutive starts as Ilya collects his head and realizes the small problems here on earth amount to greater disasters than he and his universe believe.
Do I hate the man? Not at all. I still have hope. I still (for some reason) have faith in this shitheel. Perhaps that's because I'm forced to? Whether I like it or not, Ilya Bryzgalov is here to stay for the better part of a decade. So we all better accept that fact and send good vibes to his corner.
But for now, his corner belongs on the end of the bench with a knitted hat on his noggin, watching (what I can only assume to be) a frustrated Bobrovsky pour his heart and soul in every attempt to save a shot.
What I have not seen from Bryzgalov all season long is his ability to recover quickly from one end of the net to the other. He sorta just, I dunno.....slow-motions himself like a sloth, or Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. There's been no sign that he has the slightest bit of acrobatic genius that Bobrovsky displays between the pipes.
Now, I understand the differences between the two goalies in physical stature. Bob is tinier, therefore must depend on moving quickly. Where Bryz is a much taller, lengthier twine-sitter with the ability to cover more open net with one extension of his arm, therefore speed isn't the top one or two necessities to his arsenal.
But, in his career, there's no way he's ever been this slow to react and built the reputation as an effective NHL goaltender.
Apart from Steven Stamkos making Bryzgalov and some of our defensemen look like a junior varsity club, there were some positives taken from last night's competition.
The Flyers one and only goal, once again, came off the wizardry of Claude Giroux --
Granted, Hartnell potted that puck, yes, but it was Giroux who burst through the defense's seams and created a bounce-back pass to himself off the boards behind the net. Once the puck was recovered by Claude's stick, he dished it to a waiting Scotty Too Hotty who then lit the game-tying lamp.
With that assist, Giroux sets himself two-points apart from Phil Kessel and continues to lead the league in that category.
Scott Hartnell had his seventeenth goal of the season, and is officially tied with his center at goals-scored. They've become quite the one-two punch.
After Tampa went up on us 3 - 1, it was Wayne Simmonds who decided he was going to try and spark something on his bench --
That heap of bloody mess is Eric Brewer, a 32-year old defenseman who winded up staggered, dazed and rocked by Simmonds' unbelievably lethal uppercut. It was undoubtedly the second best bout I've seen all season long (the first being Aaron Asham's rampage all over Washington Capitals forward Jay Beagle).
Nevertheless, the fight was fantastic. The YouTube video above is captured from Tampa's home broadcast. That's Bobby Taylor (once Bernie Parent's backup goalie) behind Tampa's mic telling folks that they "shouldn't make no mistake about it, [Simmonds] was out there specifically to go after Brewer and take him out."
Oh, is that a fact, numbnuts?
The man's implying Laviolette sent Wayne to the ice exclusively to goon it up with Brewer.
This isn't the '70s. And Simmonds is not some everyday goon. But I'm arguing semantics. Point is, the fight did next to nothing except send the Flyers even further down the spiraling rabbit hole.
Philly's lost back-to-back road games in regulation. That's the first time it's happened all season long. That is a feat to be proud of, actually. But let's not accomplish another seasonal rarity with a third consecutive road loss, eh?
Tomorrow night our Bullies faceoff against the Penguins in Pittsburgh. We're currently tied in points with our western neighbors, but they're on a four game winning streak. The Pens will hit the ice in stride, while the Flyers are looking to have a bounce back performance.
Remember, this will be Max Talbot and Jaromir Jagr's first appearance back in the 'Burgh since throwing on the Orange sweaters.
Get ready for the boo-birds, gentlemen. They'll be delivered on pallets.
Good night, terrible hockey.