What to Make of Ilya Bryzgalov's 'We're No Good' Take on the Flyers' Season
At 11-12-1, Philadelphia is ninth in the Eastern Conference standings and fourth in the Atlantic Division.
After a disappointing 4-2 loss to the rival New York Rangers on Tuesday night, Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov spoke candidly about his team's start to the season (via Sarah Baicker of CSN Philadelphia).
Bryz on Flyers' first half: "not good. We're not good."— Sarah Baicker (@sbaickerCSN) March 6, 2013
Bryzgalov has never been shy about speaking his mind and being honest about the team's performance or his own play.
Unfortunately for Flyers fans, it's difficult to be mad about these comments because what he said is 100 percent correct.
The Flyers are not a good hockey club right now, and unless they play better on a more consistent basis in the final two months of the season, the team's streak of five straight playoff appearances will come to an end.
Why is Philadelphia struggling so much in 2013? There are lots of reasons, so let's look at some of the most notable ones.
- The team started the year 2-6.
- The Flyers rank 23rd in GAA
- The Flyers have allowed the second-most first period goals (26).
- Philly is 5-8 against teams currently in a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference
- Scott Hartnell missed 16 games with an injury.
- Young center Sean Couturier has not enjoyed a stellar sophomore season.
- Maxime Talbot has one goal after scoring a career-high 19 last year. The bottom-six as a whole has not been productive offensively on a consistent basis.
- The James Van Riemsdyk for Luke Schenn trade has been a failure. JVR is having a great season for Toronto, while Schenn has been average at best for the Flyers and is struggling defensively.
The goaltending has also been an area of concern for head coach Peter Laviolette, but that's not a surprise given how much Bryzgalov struggled last season. The 32-year-old goaltender still isn't performing at the level expected of someone with a nine-year, $51 million contract.
Bryzgalov is 11-10-1 this season with a .903 save percentage and a 2.68 GAA, both of which are worse than his numbers in 2011-12. He has also failed to win more than two straight games.
After all that, the Flyers are still just one point away from a playoff spot, and to be fair, their play has improved over the last few weeks.
Since a horrible 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on February 16, the Flyers have won five of their last eight games.
The Pittsburgh Penguins lead the Atlantic Division with 30 points, which is just seven more than the Flyers. In fact, the division as a whole has not been very impressive this season.
Will the Flyers make the playoffs?
The New York Rangers are clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the East after finishing first in the conference last year, while the New Jersey Devils' season is taking a turn for the wost with a six-game losing streak. The New York Islanders are one point behind the Flyers in 10th, but they are not expected to sneak into the playoffs.
The good news for the Flyers is that there are 24 more games to play and making the playoffs is still a very realistic goal.
To their credit, the Flyers have improved quite a bit since their horrendous start to the year, and many of the team's best players such as Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds are having fantastic seasons thus far.
Bryzgalov's criticism of his team's first half of 2013 was spot-on, but it's still way too early to press the panic button in Philadelphia.
This is an experienced group of players who understand what it takes to win meaningful games late in the season. A lot of these guys were also on the 2009-10 Flyers team that had to play great hockey over the final two months of the regular season to clinch a playoff spot.
A victory at home against the rival Penguins on Thursday night would be the perfect way to start the second half strongly and build some confidence for the playoff race.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter. He was a credentialed reporter at the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and 2012 NHL playoffs.
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