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More About Ilya Bryzgalov Philadelphia Flyers Jerseys
Year after year the Philadelphia Flyers are one of the best teams in the league. With a rock solid defense and an offensive attack that is second to none they are the envy of most general managers throughout the league. However, one area they haven't been able to address is their goaltending, and that glaring hole in their roster has kept them from hoisting a Stanley Cup for the first time since Bobby Clarke's Flyers did so in the mid-70s.
The goalie crease has been a revolving door for years, and the problem was never more apparent than in the 2011 playoffs where the Flyers changed goalies on six different occasions (with three different tenders) in a desperate attempt to find someone of playoff caliber to keep the puck out of their net. Ultimately the strategy failed and the Flyers were ushered out of the playoffs in humiliating fashion, swept in four games by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in the second round.
Fans in Philly have been screaming for a bona fide #1 for years and this off-season they finally got their wish. The Flyers paid a steep price, dealing away stars Mike Richards and Jeff Carter in order to free up salary cap space to land their guy, but in the end they solidified themselves at the goaltending position for years to come after signing Ilya Bryzgalov to a 9 year deal.
Bryzgalov labored in a back-up role as a member of the Anaheim Ducks, but in 2007-08 he was shipped to the Phoenix Coyotes where he finally got his shot as a #1 and he ran with it.
Over the next four seasons won 128 games and took a Phoenix team with a dearth of stars to the playoffs in 2010 and 2011 - years which many predicted the cash-strapped club to finish dead last. Playing in the lion's share of his team's games, Bryzgalov seemed to thrive under the workload, putting up impressive stats in wins, shutouts, GAA and save percentage. His work in 2010 was particularly impressive and that year he earned himself a Vezina Trophy nomination, and he might have won the award had it not been for the exceptional season enjoyed by Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres.
In the end the Coyotes simply couldn't afford to keep a goaltender of Bryzgalov's ability, and will now have to struggle to find someone who can fill the gaping hole left between the pipes with the departure of the Russian star.
Is Bryzgalov the answer to Philly's longtime goaltending woes? Only time will tell, but with him at #1, and young star Sergei Bobrovsky waiting in the wings the picture between the pipes looks better in Philly than it has in a long, long time.