EDMONTON, Alberta _ Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who will start Thursday night’s game in Edmonton, knows he has had an up-and-down first year with the Flyers, but also realizes he can still save the season.
“Twenty three games left. Plenty of time to fix it,” he said.
Bryzgalov is 21-11-6 with a 2.82 goals-against average and .898 save percentage. After Thursday’s morning skate, coach Peter Laviolette hinted he will ride Bryzgalov down the stretch.
In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if the 31-year-old goalie started all four games on the road trip, which started with Tuesday’s riveting 5-4 overtime win in Winnipeg.
Bryzgalov knows if he regains his mojo and has a strong playoff run, his regular-season funk will be forgotten.
“If I can play at the level I can and we have success, nobody will care what was in the past,” he told Edmonton reporters on Wednesday.
Center Claude Giroux said the Flyers, aware Bryzgalov is going through a tumultuous period, “have his back.”
Danny Briere agreed.
“He’s had some bad games, but he’s also been good at times. It’s just a matter of time,” Briere said. “We all go through bad stretches, and goalies are not any different. There’s a reason why they signed him to a big contract. He’s a good goaltender, and I think it’s just a matter of him getting his confidence and getting his swagger back.”
Bryzgalov has played in 41 games, Sergei Bobrovsky has been in 24.
“We will need them; there’s no other way around it,” Briere said. “We need both of these guys to get going for us to be successful.”
Briere said Bryzgalov has received unfair criticism.
“People are quick to report how Bryz has struggled, but they forget how he’s had good stretches. It kind of gets lost some time,” Briere said. “I’m not worried. I think Bryz is a good goaltender and he’ll be there when it matters. That’s what we all believe.”
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Left winger James van Riemsdyk reiterated he wanted to stay with the Flyers, but he wasn’t going to worry about something that was out of his control.
The trade deadline is Monday, and JVR’s name has been in the rumor mill.
“This is where I want to be. Obviously, I like all the guys on the team,” he said. “I just want to play my game and focus on hockey and what I can control. Coming back from an injury, I just want to play consistently. Just play as well as I can and the rest will take care of itself.”
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Probable lines tonight in Edmonton:
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Columbus dealt former Flyer Jeff Carter to the Kings for defenseman Jack Johnson and a No. 1 pick in 2012 or 2013.
Carter will be reunited with Mike Richards; the two go together like Cheech & Chong back in the day. Inseparable.
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Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.