Flyers goalie Bryzgalov: 'I'm skinny and prepared'

Ilya Bryzgalov says he's now more at ease. "I understand the Philly fans right now. I know what to expect."
Ilya Bryzgalov says he's now more at ease. "I understand the Philly fans right now. I know what to expect." (YONG KIM / Staff)
Posted: September 12, 2012

The start of the NHL season is threatened by a league-imposed lockout, meaning the Ilya Bryzgalov Revival will probably be put on hold.

Bryzgalov is trimmer, more comfortable with his surroundings, and eager to start his second season with the Flyers - and show more consistency than in his sometimes-tumultuous, sometimes-spectacular first year with the club.

The 32-year-old goalie has been working out at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. He has lost about eight pounds from last season and is ready to play more like the netminder who was a Vezina runner-up in Phoenix.

"I did lots of training this summer," said a smiling Bryzgalov. "As you can see, I'm skinny and prepared."

But being in better shape may not mean much because representatives of the players and owners have not had formal negotiating talks since Aug. 31 - even though the collective-bargaining agreement expires Saturday.

If the season does get under way, Bryzgalov, with his first year with the Flyers behind him, feels more at ease with himself.

"To be honest, I don't analyze everything that happened last year," he said the other day. "I feel totally comfortable right now here. I understand the Philly media. I understand the Philly fans right now. I know what to expect from everybody in the locker room."

Will that help him when/if the season rolls around?

"I don't think there's any question," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "He left a [Phoenix] team he had settled into; he came here and didn't know a lot about the area and didn't know a lot about the team, and he was in a different conference. Now he has a year under his belt in a pressure-packed marketplace.

"He's a good goalie, and we expect him to be a lot better, and I'm sure he does himself," Holmgren added. "When I met with him at the end of the year, he knew he made some mistakes along the way. There are some things he needed to improve on and work on, and he's willing to put the time in."

Last season, Bryzgalov had a 2.48 goals-against average and .909 save percentage, and his poor playoff numbers (3.46 GAA, .887 save percentage) were somewhat skewed because of the defense-less series with the Penguins - and because of injuries to key Flyers defensemen.

The highlight of his season was a sensational March in which Bryzgalov put together the NHL's second-longest shutout streak (249 minutes, 43 seconds) since expansion in 1967-68.

"It's never easy coming to a new organization," coach Peter Laviolette said. "It's a tough position he plays, and knowing the team and the organization and the Eastern Conference and how to get to the rink and where he's going to live, you get to put that all behind you and move forward. I don't think he's alone in that scenario. . . . There was a lot of change last year and lot of new guys coming into a new situation. I would expect a lot of our players to feel more comfortable going into the year."

If there is a lockout, Bryzgalov is undecided whether he will play in Russia.

"I need some approval from all my family - my wife and my kids," he said. "It's not easy for me to be alone without my family in Russia, and if we decided to go together, I'd have to find a school for the kids and create the proper situation and environment for them to feel comfortable."

Breakaways. Chris Pronger is slated to be at the Flyers' training facility for some testing next week, but he will not skate, Holmgren said. The GM said Pronger, who missed most of last season with post-concussion syndrome, was still experiencing headaches. . . . Newly signed Ruslan Fedotenko reported to the Flyers' training facility in Voorhees on Monday to get a head start on workouts. If there's not a lockout, veterans will report to camp on Sept. 21. The baby-faced Fedotenko, 33, who is in his second stint with the Flyers, said he will play in Russia if there is a lockout. . . . More than 200 players are expected to attend a meeting in New York on Wednesday and show their union support; the NHL's board of governors will meet Thursday in New York.

Contact Sam Carchidi at Follow @BroadStBull on Twitter.


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