Philadelphia Flyers: Can They Win the East Behind Ilya Bryzgalov?

Jason SapunkaCorrespondent IISeptember 27, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 21:  Ilya Bryzgalov #30 the Philadelphia Flyers skates in warmups prior to the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center on September 21, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Michael Leighton, Brian Boucher and Sergei Bobrovsky were not good enough.

Two consecutive seasons contained legitimate Stanley Cup hopes for the Philadelphia Flyers, but those feelings crushed by a lack of adequate goaltending.

Leighton's performance in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals was abysmal, highlighted by a soft overtime winner at the hands of Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Boucher and Bobrovsky were inefficient the following year. With help from Leighton, the 2011 Philadelphia Flyers totaled a conference-worst .894 save percentage in the playoffs.

In order to address this priority, the team traded for the rights of, and signed, Ilya Bryzgalov.

This solved the goaltending problem.

Bryzgalov was a finalist for the 2010 Vezina Trophy, which is awarded to the league's best goaltender. That season, he recorded a save percentage of .920 and a goals-against average of 2.29. He won 42 games with eight shutouts.

Last season, he continued to be a stellar goaltender. His save percentage improved to .921, he still won 36 games, shutting out seven of them. His goals-against average climbed to 2.48, but it was still better than Bobrovsky's 2.59.

Bryzgalov was an essential piece of the Phoenix Coyotes' roster for the past four seasons since joining the team in November of 2007.

Averaging 67 games played per season, Bryzgalov catapulted the mediocre Coyotes to consecutive playoff appearances over the past two seasons.


In Philadelphia, Bryzgalov will have a much more talented team in front of him.

An explosive offense consisting of Claude Giroux, Danny Briere, Jaromir Jagr, James van Riemsdyk, Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek will supply the points.

Helping to protect the net will be the brick wall of a defense including Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Andrej Meszaros, Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle.

During this preseason, Jagr is proving his value at the NHL level is still highly notable. In two games, he's scored three goals and notched two assists.

Chemistry is spurning between him and Giroux, who was the Flyers' leading scorer last season. The two appear to be a dangerous combination.

The myth of Philadelphia losing offense during this past offseason should be debunked quickly.

Last season, Tim Thomas carried the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup. Philadelphia's roster for the 2011-12 season is more capable of producing points, arguably has a better defense, and though Bryzgalov may not win the Vezina trophy, he's easily capable of carrying the Flyers to an Eastern Conference championship and beyond.

Coupled with the simple fact that the Flyers are a highly talented and capable team is the pure drive that Bryzgalov has to help this team win.

During a conference call on July 11, 2011, Bryzgalov said, "I want to be the guy who can carry this team...I want to help this team win the Stanley Cup."