If one did not watch last night's game, he/she would take a look at that final score and figure Ilya had another one of his turnstile Playoff performances between the pipes last night.
But our Russian backstop had anything but.
Bryz denied 31 of 34-shots on his cage (that fourth goal being an empty netter) and seemed to be the only Flyer to even want it last night. New Jersey outshot Philadelphia 35 to 20, and limited the Flyers to only two taken on Marty Brodeur in the 2nd period.
The Orange & Black almost went the entire second stanza without a shot on net. Had there not been any put on Brodeur, it'd be the first time in the franchise's Playoff history they'd go a whole 20-minute period without a SOG.
That fact alone tells you all you need to know about last night's quagmire of a performance.
Matt Read was the first to light the lamp of the contest. After the Flyers had gone up 1 - 0, it was a battle of back-and-forth, and puck possession. Philadelphia seemed rather comfortable with just knocking the rubber around and keeping it out of Bryzgalov's front step.
But every now and then the puck would get put on Bryz, and Ilya was right there to stop it.
The cliche, "standing on his head" is incredibly overused. Yet, it's the only way to describe Bryzgalov's performance. It wasn't about how many shots he saved....it was the types of shots he saved and how he saved them.
There were moments through the first two periods when Jersey brought the hammer down around our goal with more intensity than the flatulent expulsion from the ass of a Kardashian. There were one, two, three, (sometimes) four chances on the rebounds or from the blocked shots, but Bryz stood like the Great Wall of China. There was nothing he did not do short of scoring goals on the other end himself.
Aside from the opening tally put on Brodeur's twine, Ilya Bryzgalov received absolutely no offensive support. And it isn't like the (soon to be) 40yr old Marty had an unbelievable outing. Like I mentioned before, he sat in net for almost an entire period without contesting a shot.
New Jersey's forechecking and zone defense were splendid. I have to give them credit. They were first on every puck, and they gave our boys very little chance to get a shot off. Devils skaters rushed our players, which wound up forcing our boys to make sloppy passes, sometimes leading to turnovers.
And that's the other half of it; The passes never connected last night. Pucks were either sent too short or stretched too far from the ends of the Flyers sticks. Our players were even whiffing on shots. Nothing seemed to go right for us.
Claude Giroux was an absolute NON-factor throughout the entire tilt. We all witnessed a prime example of when Giroux's not on, our offense is flat. He's the keystone of this offensive onslaught. Which leads me to the man-advantage.
Philadelphia's first three power-plays went shotless. Yes, absolutely no shots were taken on Marty Brodeur....at all.
I'd blame the excessive fancy passing (which there was a lot of), but it's the tic-tac-toe passing that's made our power-play so lethal. We've got a combination of great awareness, precision passing, and astronomical firepower that's made our special teams the most devastating in the post-season.
But....unfortunately, it was flat in our loss in Game 2. Everything was.
...except for Bryzgalov.
It wasn't until the fourth minute into the 3rd until the Devils tallied their first goal of the evening.
Defenseman Adam Larsson -- who New Jersey chose 4th Overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft -- picked up a saucy rebound which he tucked top shelf on Bryzgalov's gloveside. From there on out, it was open season on Philly's twine.
Turns out he was correct.
Eight minutes later it was David Clarkson who successfully threw another second-chance rebound behind Bryzgalov. New Jersey had taken the lead for the first time that night, and things would not change.
Less than 180-seconds later, it was Travis Zajac who carried the puck from one side of the net to the opposite end for a gaping backhanded goal.
After Bryzgalov was pulled for the extra skater, it was Devils d-man Bryce Salvador who gave the puck a plane ticket from the Devils zone and hilariously skipped, slid and tumbled its way into our goalmouth.
In all, it was just a very lousy effort by the Flyers. But we've seen something similar to this loss.
In Game 4 of the QuarterFinals versus the Penguins, our guys were given an enormous wake-up call after losing their first match of the Series, 10 - 3. Unfortunately for us presently, we've been given our wake-up call in Game 2 which has allowed a lesser opponent to tie the Series 1 - 1, and we're heading to the Prudential Center in the wake of the Devils' momentum.
Minus their alternate captain last night (Ilya Kovalchuk), it's given New Jersey an opportunity to allow their other players to step up. It's what I was worried about after hearing the news of Kovalchuk's absent status from the active roster. But now that that's been recognized and played against, we now have the opportunity to plan against it.
It's not like our offense is going to be ghosts for the rest of the Series like they were 14-hours ago. That was just a fluke, and I'm sure Laviolette's doing one of his Jedi mind tricks to give our players' heads a shake. Whether that's screaming so hard it rips the paint off the walls, or he's giving one of those calm, cool, collected speeches of his to get the competitive juices flowing.
I, for one, am not worried about this loss. I said the Flyers would win in 6, so naturally I expected two dropped decisions. However, I would have never guessed that in one of these losses our effort would be so piss poor. Then again, it doesn't get me concerned. This post-season's been nothing but surprises and busted expectations from the get-go.
If there's a positive to pull away from last night, it's Bryzgalov. He's skating into Newark, NJ with a magnificent performance on his heels. Our offense will come out looking to redeem itself, and Laviolette will make the necessary adjustments to the defense and transitional aspect of our strategy.
Really, this is nothing to sweat over.
Let's get it Thursday night, gentlemen.
Good night. Go fuck yourself, Newark.
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