Cliff Lee pissed on Bryz.
It’s the only logical explanation I can come up with to explain the excellence spewing from Ilya Bryzgalov during his three-game shutout streak.
Stats: [via the Flyers’ city-leading PR department]
Ilya Bryzgalov tied a Flyers record with his third consecutive shutout tonight, joining John Vanbiesbrouck as the only other goaltender to do so. Vanbiesbrouck recorded three consecutive shutouts from October 20-24, 1999.
Vanbiesbrouck was involved in one other span of three consecutive shutouts. The Flyers shut out their opponent three games in a row from Jan. 7-13, 1999. Vanbiesbrouck was the sole goaltender in the first and third game of those three, and relieved Ron Hextall during the second game, thus splitting the shutout.
Bryzgalov extended his shutout streak to 196:13. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the third-longest shutout streak for a goaltender in Flyers history:
John Vanbiesbrouck – 227:40, Oct. 17-26, 1999
John Vanbiesbrouck – 218:42, Jan. 3-16, 1999
Ilya Bryzgalov – 196:13, March 16 – present
With last night’s win, Bryz also passed the great Michael Leighton, who had a shutout streak of 172:55 in the 2010 Stanley Cups Playoffs… before eventually letting in Patrick Kane’s game-winner from an impossible and horrifyingly devastating angle.
After the game, Bryz, of course, didn’t want to speak about himself:
People say when goaltenders get in streaks, the puck looks like a beach ball or something…
I don’t know.
Did you hear the fans chanting your name today?
Yeah, I heard. Yeah, thank you for support.
He hates us. He’s winning despite us. It’s the Herb Brooks Corollary: In 1980, the US Olympic Mens Hockey Team hated their coach. The players bonded over that common thread. Bryz, on the other hand, was fed up with the boos and negativity surrounding his play. He turned to his more inviting teammates– his only option. Now he’s the consummate team player. A goaltender winning mostly so he can stick it to his critics. It’s like one of Kobe’s Black Mamba streaks, in which someone, somewhere, said something bad about him, causing the former rapist to rip throats out all over the league.
That’s Bryz– he’s in fuck you mode. In a fucking trance. A brainwashed Soviet warrior, living among us, programmed to destroy North America one humongous save at a time.
Like a pitcher in the middle of a [redacted] right now– nobody talk to him!
And let’s not forget to give credit where credit is due: the zit on Bryz’s neck, it deserves player of the week honors:
This picture is only made worse by beat writer Wayne Fish's ghoulish eye
Judging by the size and scope of this thing (Bryz's zit, not Fish's eye), it’s been around for all three shutouts. Bryz and the Flyers should embrace it. Coddle it, almost. Cultivate it with a perfect mixture of sweat, dirt, and Cliff Lee’s excellent piss. Give the zit its own seat on the plane. A traveling heat lamp. Anything to keep it happy.
All of this being said, however, the Flyers allowed only 17 shots last night, and only three in the third period:
The Devils had three shots on goal in the third period. It’s the third time this season in six games against the Devils that the Flyers have held them to three or fewer shots in the third period. New Jersey had three shots in the third on October 8 (Flyers 2 at NJ 0) and had one shot in the third on February 4 (New Jersey 6 at Flyers 4).
Bryz is playing great, yes. But the Flyers have completely changed their game plan over the last two weeks: defense first.
Look at the scoring output in the six games since March 4: 1, 3, 5, 1, 1, 3. Compare that to the previous six games: 6, 0, 5, 0, 5, 4. That’s a 20-14 difference. But they’ve allowed only nine goals in seven games in March. Outstanding.
There was no way the Flyers were going to win a Stanley Cup with the volatile results they saw through the first five months of the season. You can only play a wide-open style if you know there’s going to be great defensemen and goaltenders to back you up. The Flyers didn’t have that. So, they’ve seemingly shifted their entire philosophy. They’re playing defense first and capitalizing on mistakes. And it’s working.
Full game notes and highlights over on our BuzzOnBroad.com.