Bryzgalov started for the 17th time in the last 18 games on Thursday. He has been the NHL's player of the week the last two weeks.
The confidence, Reese said, has Bryzgalov playing with an edge. No longer is he passive. No longer does he look lost in the woods. Whether it was because of a meeting he had with the team leaders last month or the addition of massive defensemen Nick Grossmann and Pavel Kubina, Bryzgalov seems to be more relaxed and more in control.
"He just looks bigger in the net right now; he's more aggressive when he needs to be. He's back when he needs to be. He's just more comfortable," Reese said. "It's more on the ice than anything, but it's off the ice, too. I think he's become a little more comfortable with his environment."
Bryzgalov's turnaround started when he stopped four of five shots in a shootout as the Flyers defeated host Calgary, 5-4, on Feb. 25.
Since then, he his numbers, bolstered by the NHL's second-longest shutout streak (249:43) since 1967-68, have gone from Ken Wregget to Bernie Parent.
"The shootout certainly helped," said Reese, mindful that Bryzgalov also played well in losses to Edmonton, 2-0, and San Jose, 1-0, during that trip. "Everybody was talking about the shootout [losses] and he put that to rest. I think on that swing, he started finding his game. He started looking more comfortable to me, and his balance was better. That's when it started, and he has just kind of carried it through."
His March stats entering Thursday: 8-1-1 record, 1.27 goals-against average and a .955 save percentage.
"He's been an all-star for us this past month," winger Scott Hartnell said after Thursday's morning skate. "He's been awesome. That's why we signed him."
Bryzgalov now refuses to talk about himself, deflecting the praise to his teammates. Lately, the Flyers have been in a defense-first mode, and it has led to a late-season surge.
"I think we've tightened down defensively," Reese said. "With the addition of [Kubina] and Grossmann, we're blocking more shots, and they've done a tremendous job in front - and the forwards have committed to defense as well. We know the games are tightening now, and we had to tighten things up, and I think the coaching staff has done a good job of that."
Bryzglaov's backup, Sergei Bobrovsky (remember him?) is 23 and is still developing and refining his game. But a 31-year-old veteran like Bryzgalov isn't changing many of his techniques.
For Bryzgalov, "most of it is mental," Reese said of the reason for his resurgence. "He's challenging. He's reading the play very well. I even think he's handling the puck very well. . . . He's having fun. He's enjoying playing, enjoying the workload."
Coach Peter Laviolette said Bobrovsky will get a start or two down the stretch, but he plans to ride Bryzgalov most of the way. The Flyers have eight games left after Thursday.
Bryzgalov played in his 55th game Thursday and figures to finish with about 61 regular-season appearances. He averaged 67 games with Phoenix during each of the last three seasons.
"He's used to playing a lot of hockey," Reese said. "He didn't play as much in the beginning of this season as he has in the past, but he just likes the workload. For a bigger man, it keeps him sharper, I believe, and keeps his timing."
As for his performances in past playoffs, Bryzgalov's numbers - a 2.55 GAA and .917 save percentage - are solid. But he has had varied degrees of success in his four playoff seasons, going from lights out (1.46 GAA, .944 save percentage) in his first postseason in Anaheim to being shaky last year with Phoenix (4.36 GAA, .879 save percentage).
Contact Sam Carchidi at email@example.com or on Twitter @BroadStBull.