And I’m not talking about the Universe….
I’m talking about the Philadelphia Flyers and goaltending.
For years now, the Flyers organization have had issues finding just the right goalie to lead them to the Stanley Cup. They came close in 2010 behind the tandem of Brian “Bobby” Boucher and Michael Leighton, but it just wasn’t enough. The team has lacked that netminder who brings consistency to the starting goaltender position and who hold on to the starting position for an extended period of time.
If the Bruins Stanley Cup run has shown us anything, it is that in order to win the Cup, you need to have goaltending. Tim Thomas was otherworldly last season and it is his stellar play along with the play of the entire team that brought them the ultimate hockey prize.
Any hockey fan can recognize that the Flyers are talented. Claude Gingeroux might be one of the best young players in the NHL. They have a solid core of young talent mixed in with veterans like Scott Hartnell, Danny Briere, and future NHL Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr. Coach Peter Laviolette has won a Cup before with the Hurricanes, so he’s proven that he can take a team all the way.
I truly believe that the Flyers thought that bringing in Ilya Bryzgalov would solve their twine troubles. He won the Cup in 2007 with the Ducks. He is a 3-time Olympian, has won numerous international medals, was the runner-up for the Vezina Trophy and a top 5 finalist for the Hart Trophy in 2010. He is, by all accounts, a top-flight NHL Goalie.
Flyers spend a pretty penny on signing Bryz in the off-season, to a nine-year,$51 million dollar contract. The team believed in Bryz so much that they even went as far as to pull off two high-profile trades before the signing was announced in order to make room for him under the salary cap – Jeff Carter to Columbus and captain Mike Richards to Los Angeles. Granted Flyers did receive some great young talent like Jakub Voraceck, Wayne Simmonds, and Brayden Schenn, and a grip of draft picks in return, but was it really all worth it? Have the Flyers really gotten what they’ve so desperately desired?
Some might say yes, while others will lament that the Flyers made a terrible mistake. At yesterday’s Winter Classic, a marquee NHL event, you expect to see your #1 goalie on the ice. Bryz rode the bench. The Flyers’ other netminder, Sergei “Bob” Bobrovsky got the start. Probably not a terrible idea to go with Bob over Byrz since he’s been winless in his last four starts, going 0-3 and giving up 16 goals on 87 shots and Bobrovsky is 3-0 in his last three starts, giving up 6 goals on 88 shots.
But it really didn’t matter who started. Flyers lost anyway.
While the season is still a long way from over, it seems that despite the organization’s best efforts, the Flyers’ goaltending conundrum continues.
Now, by no means, do I actually want the Flyers to win. As a Bruins fan, it is not in my DNA to allow that. But I am a hockey fan and I appreciate the struggle and desires of players and fans, and the hope an entire city places in 20 men on their quest to obtain the pinnacle of hockey supremacy.