When Ilya Bryzgalov and the Flyers suffered a 9-8 loss at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets in late October, the goalie situation didn't look much different than last season's debacle in net.
No matter which goaltender they put in, the team couldn't keep the puck out of the net. Against Winnipeg, it was the same story as Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky allowed the 9 total goals in the loss. After the game, Bryzgalov said he was horrible and lost in the woods, and apologized to his teammates and the fans.
Many questioned how a franchise goaltender could be so unconfident in himself, and some even pondered if signing Bryzgalov for nine years was a huge mistake for the organization. Ever since then, however, Bryzgalov has been steady and confident in net, and looks to be finding his grove with the Flyers.
In his last five games, Bryz has posted a stellar 4-0-1 record and brought the Flyers back in second place in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. Over those five games, he posted a .939 save percentage and a 1.80 goals against average. If Bryzgalov played this way for the entire season, he'd be around the top five in the NHL in both categories.
Keep in mind, the defense has been very unstable early on, and there have also been a seemingly high amount of defelection and bad-bounce goals scored on both Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky. When captain Chris Pronger was shut down for about two weeks with his eye injury, Bryzgalov was the one that the team leaned on to right the ship.
It didn't start well for Bryz in Pronger's absence (0-2, 4.50 GAA), but he made some adjustments and ultimately got the team heading in the right direction. Bryz lead the team to a 3-0 record while posting a 1.67 goals against average in the last three games he started before Pronger's return.
Bryzgalov's play over the past few weeks is a great sign that he's getting back on track, but they could mean something even better for the Russian netminder.
Bryz is different than any goalie the Flyers have placed between the pipes recently; he has an outgoing personality and confidence is something that elevates his game to the next level. The more consistent he plays, the better he gets. If Bryzgalov can continue his streak of allowing two goals or less (five straight), he'll continue to build confidence and play even better.
Follow Buzz on Broad Flyers beat writer on Twitter @CJBurns215