Ilya Bryzgalov's Meltdown and Its Effect on the Philadelphia Flyers Season

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Ilya Bryzgalov's Meltdown and Its Effect on the Philadelphia Flyers Season
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After a fantastic re-enactment of childhood pond-hockey days, Ilya Bryzgalov was interviewed after the game.

Here is what he said: "I have zero confidence in myself right now. I'm terrible. I want to apologize to the fans and my teammates. I don't know what's going on. I have no answer for you guys. I thought the last game in Montreal was the worst, but today was worse."

I would feel bad for the guy, but it's hard to do with today's economy and the fact that he's making about $10 million this season—although the fan in me does empathize.

When he was signed in June, the Philadelphia Flyers, their fans and Bryzgalov himself expected him to be a savior; the guy to carry on in the footsteps of names like Parent, Lindbergh and Hextall. If you look at the stat sheet, that will lie to you.

Here's why: Through the first four games—two of those games against last year's Stanley Cup finalists—Bryzgalov posted 2.00 GAA, .927 save percentage, one shutout, three wins and one loss.

That's an impressive resume through four games against two teams you are likely to meet in the postseason.

Now, something happened along the way. Bryzgalov admittedly lost his confidence. Why? As all goaltenders should have a short memory, he's stuck on the last three games. He needs to start focusing on how he started the season.

To quote Sun Tzu, "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles." Well, considering when you make the playoffs, hockey is almost 100 battles anyway.

He needs to take that fire and passion he has after a bad goal and focus on what he did right through four games.

Ilya Bryzgalov needs to know that after all the time he's spent in the league, he is good. He needs to stay strong in his technique like he did through those four games. By allowing these bad games and goals to linger in his memory, he's only hurting himself.

Last night, Bryzgalov took a big step towards doing the right things. Instead of blurting out a teammate's name as he did after the St. Louis game, he threw himself on the sword.

The quote by Bryzgalov last night tells me that he's going back to square one, that when he sits down with Jeff Reese, he does so with an open mind. He must relearn who he is and stay committed to the style of play that the good Bryzgalov plays.

By being the "good" Bryzgalov through the remainder of the season, he can achieve great things with this team.

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