Reframing the Bryz Debate

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I’ll gladly admit that I’m beating a dead horse at this point. But after reading the comments on this morning’s Flyers post, and continuously getting bombarded by Type OB (Orange and Black) nuts who refuse to admit that, overall, Ilya Bryzgalov has been disappointing*, I can’t help myself. 

*We’re defining that as: 1. Not nearly as good and consistent as we expected when the Flyers unloaded their core to make room for Bryz and his $51 million contract. 2. Not the all-world goalie we’ve dreamt of for 20 years. 

Here’s the argument in a nutshell: 

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Wait, no. Here it is: Some feel that Bryz is never going to live up to expectations (superstar, top-five goalie being paid a historic sum of money) and is too inconsistent and nutty, regardless of the defense in front of him, to be relied upon. The sample size of more than a full season is large enough to draw that reasonable conclusion. He’s a fun quote, sometimes streaky (all goalies are, btw– see Leighton comma Michael comma 2010 comma he’s played in two games since), and is better than the current alternative, but he frightens the shit out of you. 

Type OB: No. The Flyers have a prep school defense and any goalie would struggle to find consistency playing behind that. Everyone is too hard on Bryz. Give him a break. He’s been one of the best goalies in the league this year. There’s a full team in front of him– you can’t blame it all on the goalie.

Here’s the problem with that argument: Almost reflexively, like Republicans and Democrats voting along party lines, the Type OB folks who defend Bryz also champion the Mike Richards and Jeff Carter trades (and everything else the Flyers have ever done, ever. Ever. Period. Ever.). When you casually bring up that little massive silver chalice Richards and Carter won just a year after being shot by Paul Holmgren, the Type OB folks are Quick to point out that the Kings were carried by their goalie. That Richards and Carter had little to do with their team’s playoff success (despite them both being in the top five on the team in playoff scoring and Carter being tied for most goals). It was all about the hot goalie. 


Yet, those very same people defend Bryz by pointing out that the players in front of him don’t play defense. That it’s not all about the goalie. That it’s a team game. 

See the issue?

Many of those folks don’t want to acknowledge that two-way forwards Richards and Carter played a big part – scoring goals and killing penalties – for the Kings last year. Sure, the goalie was stellar, but he was helped by the players in front of him. Conversely, Bryz is being hurt by the players in front of him. No one is debating that. But woefully inconsistent defense aside, Bryz continuously gives up soft or suspect goals (two of them last night) and fails make game-altering saves. He’s not terrible. Not the worst goalie ever. He’s maybe even decent. But for $51 million… for being the guy for whom the Flyers traded key players to clear cap space… for being expected to be a difference-maker… Bryz has been anything but. He’s simply been average, maybe a little bit better. Some argue that a good defense and a few two-way forwards would catapult him into some elite pantheon of ‘tenders… but many of those people hate to be reminded that the Flyers traded away a few of those two-way forwards to make room for Bryz. And that’s the problem. That’s why I’m so hard on Bryz. It’s not because he’s awful (he’s not), it’s because he was supposed to be the goalie we haven’t had since Bernie– the Flyers acknowledged as much when they decided to pay him $51 million and trade two players with decade-long contracts to make room for him, to change the structure of the team. And, thus far, Bryz has fallen way short of expectations. It’s all fucking connected.

[You can, of course, debate the other reasons for trading Richards and Carter, but the answer to one of these questions is yes: Did the Flyers know Richards and Carter were cancers and sign them to decade-long contracts anyway? Were the Flyers somehow unaware of it when they handed out massive contracts like they were candy?] 

Yes, we’re beating a dead horse. But at least one of those trades made room for Bryz. Many people defend the strategy. Yet those same people refuse to criticize the goalie, saying that he doesn’t have defensive-minded players in front of him… the type of players the Flyers traded away.

In return for those trades the Flyers got Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek, and made room for Bryz. Schenn has been up and down. Couturier has already shown that he’ll be a good two-way player. Voracek and Simmonds are proving to be a reliable, above average scorers. But the Flyers, right now, are incapable of playing the type of well-rounded hockey that led them to Game 6 of Stanley Cup Finals in 2010 and toward the top of the league standings in 2011. That summer, they got younger, and got goaltending. Problem is, the goaltending hasn’t made a difference.

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35 Responses

  1. I don’t understand why the defense always takes the heat. They aren’t that bad. 2 of the 4 goals from last night were weak, weak goals that should have been stopped.

  2. everyone stop friggen whining, the Flyers aren’t as good as everyone thought they were and we all knew this coming out of the offseason…point-blank.

  3. i bet the flyers get hot late, just squeak in the playoffs and win the cup, just like every other team that wins a championship these days

  4. “Hmm…my earlier Flyers post got a lot of feedback. I know what I’ll do. I’ll insult Flyers fans Mike Missanelli-style by subtly calling them all idiots and sheep who never question anything the team does. That’s sure to piss them off and get them to write tons of lengthy comments. Here come the clicks and page views!!! $$$$$$$
    Okay, time to do some race baiting with a new Desean Jackson or Bynum post. I haven’t given my racist readers any fodder in a few days.”

  5. Max Talbot is one of the worst players in the league. There is nothing you can say otherwise. I agree with Strugz, the Flyers just aren’t as good as everyone thought they were. Why can’t it just be that. Timmonen skates like he’s stuck in mud, Talbot can’t hockey, Briere can’t hockey unless it’s playoffs, Giroux’s power went with his hair (he is Samson), Voracek is the really fast guy from mighty ducks. We just don’t have the type of players that successful teams have. Also Bryz consistently gives up soft goals. You cannot tell me that backhand nudge was a good shot. Even though he had a clear path to the goal, and back handed tap should not be able to beat your goalie to the far post like that from that angle. They are just playing bad hockey as a team, and it’s taking bad hockey as a team to lose the way they are losing.

  6. Davis…thank you. I thought I was the only person that thought Max Talbot has been HORRENDOUS this year. He freaking stinks!
    I’m not really happy with Lavy lately. Can someone tell me why Gustafson was on the ice with under a minute to go last night?

  7. Bryz + NHL level D + defensive system = Good
    Bryz + Keystone cop level D + offensive based system = Bad
    Easier now?
    Your argument –
    “The Flyers traded Richards and Carter and they won a cup and this guy makes too much money!”

  8. Bryz played well for like a week. Other than that he’s been his usual self – letting up shitty goals at bad times. And when he does make a good save, am I the only one noticing how the broadcast team finds it necessary to tell me how great the save was – even when it was routine?

  9. Thank you Josh! Finally someone that actually knows a thing or two about being a hockey goalie.
    When you shitty play in front of you from both your d and your forwards, playing the position goes from being as elementary as keeping the puck from going in the net, to that plus, corraling any rebounds, clearing your crease out, clearing the puck cause your skaters are too incompetent to do so.
    Maybe I’m a little biased cause I played the position, and I think Kyle still hasn’t relieved his hard on for Richards and Carter but this post has to be one of the worst hatchet jobs I’ve ever seen.

  10. To me there is no debating with the typical “Flyer First” fan, they are set in their ways.
    The apart that annoys me is when the heat is passed onto the GM for acquiring someone who across the board everyone was overly pleased to get(Bryz, Nnamdi). Suddenly when the player shits the bed fans forget how great they thought the move was at the time.

  11. Oh and there’s no easier way to piss a site visitor off by sticking an illegible Captcha at the end of a form. Just sayin’

  12. I think this is a ploy to make up for lost page views from the comment-log-in-fiasco, since you know you get the most page views when you do this. But, I already clicked, so I’ll respond and then I won’t come back to debate further.
    Let’s break this down:
    Number 1- stop lumping all “Type OB” fans together. Not all of us were fans of the Richards/Carter trades. I was a fan of the Carter trade (Carter for Voracek, Cooter and a pick that- I believe- turned into Nicklas Grossmann? Yes. Fucking. Please), but not the Richards trade. At the time, I thought it was a bad trade. It still could pan out, as long as Brayden Schenn continues to develop and becomes Mike Richards- then we traded Mike Richards for Mike Richards and Wayne Simmonds. That’s a good deal, IF Schenn gets there. I’m still not sold, so I don’t count that trade as a win.
    Number 2- not having Richards and Carter (who, while OKAY defensively, I wouldn’t call “defensive-minded”) is NOT the issue with the team’s defensive play. That problem is that they haven’t replaced Pronger. You have a Pronger (or a Pronger-type; Weber, Chara, Phaneuf, etc) and every other defenseman slots down and becomes that much better (like how Hunter Pence is a good 5-hole hitter but can’t be clean-up; Coburn is a great 2nd-pairing guy, but can’t be on the top line). That’s not the trades’ fault, nor is it Bryz’. That’s a freak injury and those big time defensemen just not always being available.
    Number 3- Stop focusing on the $51 million. Guys get ridiculous contracts, especially pre-lockout. He wouldn’t have been given that much, nor 9 years, if the CBA wasn’t a cap travesty that forced those type of deals. That’s a product of the environment the Flyers had to deal with, not their perceived worth of Bryz.
    This is already getting too long, but those are my main issues. I’ll say just a bit more:
    Newsflash, Kyle: To win a Stanley Cup, (most) teams have to have the entire team playing well. Forwards, defense, goaltending. You need your goalie to be hot at the right time. There is no (zero, none, no one) goalie in the league that is hot all the time. So you’ll have these complaints about any goalie in the league if you’re looking for someone who is shutdown every single game, not just Bryz.
    Bottom line is you need a goalie who is likely to get hot, and then hope he gets hot at the right time. The Bouchers, the Leightons, the Esches of the world were LUCKY if they got hot. It was rare. We’ve now, in less than a season and a half, seen 2 periods from Bryz where he was as hot, or hotter, than any of those goalies ever were for the Flyers. So Bryz is far likelier to get hot.
    And just like baseball, hockey is about who gets hot at the right time. We gotta hope Bryz has that hot streak during the playoffs. IF he does and the team plays some type of defense in front of him, this team wins the Cup. You don’t say that about Boucher, or Leighton, or Burke. THAT’S what makes Bryz different from them, and worth the contract of a number 1 goalie.
    But we have a history of being hard on goalies. They’re already a wacky breed, and I don’t want us getting in Bryz’ head. That’s not good for anyone, because while you might feel good about it temporarily, it’s ultimately damaging to the goal of winning a Cup. You get in his head, you shake his confidence by prematurely writing him off (and then booing him because of “consistent” weak goals [seriously, Kyle, please document all of them this year. Because it’s STILL less than 10]) and then the guy can’t play here anymore. It’s been happening for 20 years and it is DETRIMENTAL to the team and you continue the cycle.
    That’s what us “Type OB” fans are trying to do. Break that cycle. Because we want a Cup. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we haven’t had one since the mid-70s. Maybe switching up our mentality as fans could do something to help foster that. Maybe no, but it’s worth a fucking shot.

  13. Bryz is playing right along his career trend. Look over his career of the last two seasons and you’ll see he’s consistent with that. His cold periods are sometimes 3-5 games (sv% below 90%), and his hot streaks (sv% above 93%) come shortly after. Is Bryz this “amazing, elite goalie?” No. They are few and far between. J Quick, yes, excellent goalie, but the LAK system plays a lot to his success. Lundqvist, look at the season he’s having this year. Bryz had a very nice start to the season, but now he’s giving up nearly 3 goals per game. Not good. That said, he’ll bounce back and everyone will be back to loving, Bryz. The Flyers over-evaluated and over paid for his services. Surprising? No. Fret not, he’ll find his way out of the woods soon enough.

  14. In my opinion, we need to FIRE LAVS!!
    And hire the coach from the Mighty Ducks 3….. Gotta get up early if you wanna hunt goose eggs!!

  15. There’s a huge difference between watching then on TV and just seeing the goals being scored on TV. And then there is sitting in the suite at the Center like I did last night and actually watching everything that is going on.
    That said, this team would be allowing 7-10 goals a night if it weren’t for Bryzgalov. In what league should Bruno Gervais and Erik Gustaffson be playing ON THE SAME PAIRING? Their defense is horrible, and it really shouldn’t be, because they have 5 pretty good defensemen (counting Mezz, who, obviously, can’t stay on the ice). I’ve never seen a team so unable to clear their own zone and I’ve also never seen a team just commit turnovers and unforced possession changes like this team does. It’s been happening all year. I don’t think this team is built to win the Cup this year like you seem to think. I also think there is no way they would win the Cup with Carter, Richards, Leighton, and Boucher still here. I certainly like our chances going forward more with what we have than what we got rid of. And, Bryz only makes 5 million a year on average, so we have a #1 goalie fairly cheap for a while. Leave him alone, Kyle. You’d give up 100 goals a night if you were in net with this defense.

  16. And thus we come to the root of Kyle Scott’s disdain for Bryzgalov. They moved his two favorite players, the Glimmer Twins Carter and Richards to make room for him.
    Didn’t take Freud to figure that out, but thanks for confirming.
    As far as long term contracts and the money that Kyle obsesses over with Bryzgalov, the Kings are now stuck with Richards and Carter for the next decade. Their act will inevitably wear out just like it did here but they have no trade clauses, nice weather and each other so good luck getting either one of them to waive their’s.
    Did they win the Stanley Cup? Yep. Were they the two main go-to guys, the star, first line players they were expected to be here and got paid to be here? Nope. So, would the Flyers have won the Stanley Cup last year with Carter, Richards and Bobrovsky in goal? Nope. Would they be any better off this year? Most likely not.
    Kyle has a problem with the Flyers over-spending on Bryzglaov but not over-spending and locking up to 13 and 14 year deals two second and third line centers.
    Makes sense.

  17. Every goalie goes through hot and cold streaks. The reason I have no faith in Bryz is because he has shown to be very sensitive and loses his confidence more easily than most other goaltenders. This makes him more prone to longer and more frequent cold spells.

  18. I dont know who else they would have signed in that offseason except for bryz maybe vokoun and to try to bash the trades of carter and richards this is behind retarted they have 4 players from the trade that have shown they are above average players coots schenn voracek and simmonds i wouod rather take them over the two but anyway the 51 million is outragoues but tell me what you would want them to do other then get bryz in the 2011 offseason

  19. at least your honest enough to admit your problem with bryz is tied to the richards and carter trades. That makes no sense mind you but it’s nice of you to admit you’re clueless. Jeff carter a two way player? jesus christ. lavy’s system does not fit with this current group, the d can’t get out of the zone, forwards have to drop deep to help so they aren’t in position for the all out forecheck his system relies on for success. So you get what we got, a turd. then you show a highlight clip of a shootout breakaway, a shootout in which all 3 flyers shooters failed to score as an example of bryz not getting the job done. You’re right Kyle, he didn’t.

  20. MM, while I agree with you that the gif is an unfair highlight of Bryz, that isn’t from a shootout…it even says penalty shot and shows the score…in the first period. It’s from the spanking the Flyers took after beating the Pens
    Also, Jeff Carter is a two-way player. Broad Street Hockey wrote a great article highlighting it in June 2011 (he faced the toughest competition out of any Flyers forward in his last year as a Flyer).

  21. Yeah i love how no post on the gagne thing yet.
    Also, anyone else see what team Ray Emery is playing for right now? How about their record? What about his stats? Even though he’s back up, he still has 2.08 GAA and no losses.
    Proof that he’s good goalie, or proof he has a great team playing in front of him. I think it’s proof of a combo of both, so let’s just remember this is a team sport and while bryz gives up a shit ton of soft goals, the guys on the ice in front of him blow dude donkeys too.

  22. You guys are right bryz stops that penalty shot the flyers win that game and Jeff Carter was fucking Stevie Y, you ever put down the stats and watch the game? So we’re pointing to last night as a “bryz loss”? C’mon guys get a grip.

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