Ilya Bryzgalov: Flyers are 'done' if they lose two to Devils

"This is it," said Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov of the weekend's games against New Jersey.
"This is it," said Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov of the weekend's games against New Jersey. (YONG KIM / Staff)
Posted: March 14, 2013

With a little more than six weeks left in the lockout-shortened season, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov said the Flyers have reached a critical stage as they prepare to face New Jersey on Wednesday and Friday.

The Devils, seventh in the Eastern Conference, are four points ahead of the 11th-place Flyers and have a game in hand.

"You win both games, you are tied with them, and you have a good chance to continue to battle for the playoffs," he said after Tuesday's practice in Voorhees. "You lose both games, you are done. You are done. That's it. This is it. This is, probably, the reality. You're going to be eight points behind [after losing both games in regulation] . . . and not many games are left to catch up. It would be very, very difficult. It's not going to depend only on you. It's going to depend more on other teams than you. That's how important these games [are]."

After Friday, the Flyers will have 19 games left.

"I think Bryz has a valid point," coach Peter Laviolette said about the importance of the next two games. Laviolette said the "focus" was on "the one game in New Jersey, and then [we'll] reload when we get back home."

On Wednesday, Bryzgalov will make his 26th start in 28 games.

The fact the Flyers will play just three games in the next 11 days is a needed break, Bryzgalov said, because it will enable him to see his children more often and get some rest.

"It's great. Maybe more mental" than physical, he said of the break in the schedule.

Asked if he had talks with Laviolette about when he needed a rest, Bryzgalov said he likes to play a lot of games. "Sometimes, you get tired, but you don't have a choice," he said, adding it was "out of my authority to speak about coach and player conversations. I'm strictly forbidden."

The Flyers (12-14-1), coming off a 3-2 win over Buffalo, have dropped 3-0 and 5-3 decisions in New Jersey this season.

"You can't force plays or take too many chances against them," defenseman Luke Schenn said.

Losing last week to the Rangers, Penguins, and Bruins has increased the Flyers' urgency.

"We were 0 for 3, so we're putting ourselves in a tougher and tougher position," forward Danny Briere said.

Winger Scott Hartnell said the Flyers, losers of three of their last four, need an attitude adjustment if they fall behind.

"Our faces drop, and that can't happen," he said. "Whether you score the first goal or don't score the first goal, you've got to have the enthusiasm to play."

Like the Flyers, the Devils, now 12-9-5, have scuffled recently. They are 2-6-1 since Martin Brodeur (2.27 goals-against average, .911 save percentage) went out of the lineup with a back injury. Johan Hedberg (2.97, .879) is expected to start Wednesday.

"From this point on, every single game will be a playoff game for us," Briere said.


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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