Friday, May 11, 2012

Bryzgalov's musings still hard to read

I saw Ilya Bryzgalov after Game 5, after he issued a few minutes worth of regret-laden quotes to a mass of English-speaking media in the wake of an elimination loss to the New Jersey Devils.
He was in a relaxed posture talking to a Russian reporter who doubles for the Flyers as a pseudo-translator for forever backup goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
Anyway, Bryzgalov was doing something else that at least in recent weeks was a little unusual -- yakking. The story was released Thursday and then put on a website by that Yahoo Puck Daddy in an English translation. Whether or not something was lost in the translation ... who knows?
Of course, that never matters anymore, does it?
Judging by what Bryzgalov says in the article, however, it seems relatively accurate. For it follows along the lines of what Bryzgalov gave Flyers this year...
Inconsistent answers, flavored with something that sounds like self-pity.
"Yes, I made a mistake," Bryzgalov told the reporter after he had to be reminded that he literally handed a goal to David Clarkson in Game 5. "But when a player makes a pass and the opponent intercepts it, no one says anything, right?  I understand that I am being criticized by everyone but the lazy. But I am trying not to think about it."
Everyone but the lazy? Yeah, something apparently was lost in the translation.
But more Bryz:
"It is difficult. Wherever you come, whatever you open — my face is everywhere. Everyone is talking about me. 'Bryzgalov played well,' 'Philadelphia won, but Bryz made a mistake again,' 'Yes, he wasn't scored against but could have been'…  Guys, but who doesn't make mistakes? And how many (pucks) did I catch before then? But very few notice that. People are so concentrated on the negative that they only see the bad in me. But I think that you need to be kinder to each other."
And more Bryz:
"What I lived through this season I wouldn't wish to an enemy ... I need to keep working. I understand the fans. They paid their money and want the show. But many forget that we are not robots, but living people. We have feelings, worries. It's easy to turn away when the club is going through tough times. But if you're wearing orange sweaters, then support Philadelphia until the very end! Don't denounce your team. There won't be a different one. And I know that the Flyers have dedicated fans who understand hockey and will always support."
That's a neat interview trick. Criticize your team's fans then call them dedicated.
Anyway, more Bryz, when asked if he could ask for a trade if he's that upset:
"I am not one of those people. I will not give in when facing difficulties. I have eight more years to work under my contract with Philadelphia. If I am criticized, then I will endure it. You can't tie up people's tongues. It is their right to let the emotions go."
Ya think?
"I don't even know," the Bryz man finally said. "I got very tired this season, to be honest."
Yes. This was season 1 of this goalie and he is under contract for eight more. If he's tired, everyone else might be exhausted.
This guy is 31. He's been playing professionally in the United States since 2001. And yes, he was a minor leaguer in Cincinnati, and an NHL goalie in Anaheim and Phoenix.
For hockey, they are nothing more than media outposts.
So, as GM Paul Holmgren pointed out Thursday, Bryzgalov had to adjust to the ways of the media and fans on the Philadelphia sports scene. What Holmgren didn't revisit was how Bryzgalov's comedy act on HBO's 24/7 disrupted Peter Laviolette's preferred vice-like grip on the locker room.
That's part of the landscape here, too.
If Bryzgalov is what some people think he is, just a talented goalie with a sense of humor that gets lost in translation, then fine. It's up to the team to help him (and the quiet, underachieving backup goalie named Bob) by providing a real translator or liaison for the "media masses" after games.
That's something the Flyers, historically one of the last NHL teams to entertain the idea of using players from Eastern Europe, never quite understood.
But the Bryz's only problem isn't language. It's an unrefined sense of understanding. He's acts like a little boy lost in the sports media landscape here, yet is actually a veteran NHL player with a $51 million contract who often seems disconnected.
It doesn't have to be that way, but only if this starting goalie masters something else that was lost in his transition from Phoenix to Philly...
A matured sense of leadership that the Flyers thought they were buying last summer.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Flyers out to win one for the "G"(ipper?)

Even if they had Claude Giroux available for Game 5, the Flyers would have a very tough time to avoid elimination by the Devils if the Flyers can't find a way to clear their zone. Not having Giroux really hurts, especially on the power play; but much as Ilya Kovalchuk's loss to the Devils in Game 2 worked out for New Jersey, perhaps the Devils make a mistake by relaxing just a trace more against the Flyers in this game. If so, all the Flyers have to do is find a consistent way to get the puck through the neutral zone, and to keep the Devils from incessantly cycling the puck around Ilya Bryzgalov's net.

The Flyers have had a tough time dumping the puck in over the Devils' forecheckers, because the Devils defense has been much quicker than expected, and because goalie Marty Brodeur is still great at handling the puck and turning it back the other way. The Flyers simply have to find another way.

l l l

On another matter, the Flyers might get a heartfelt speech from suspended Giroux before the game. But don't expect anything from another missing captain -- Chris Pronger.

No Pronger locker room visits have been paid since back in the regular season. As far as we know, he hasn't been to games, is purposely the concussed captain staying away. Pronger's late-season visit after he'd missed months with the concussion "was nice to see," Danny Briere said. "We seemed to play better after that. But I don't know if he can help (now). This has got to be done by us."

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Flyers reacting to pressure against Devils

Somewhat snippy, snippy little Flyers at practice today, the day before Game 4 with them down 2-1 to the New Jersey Devils. That's a good thing. Some guys moaning they didn't think the Devils were this good along the boards and in neutral zone (how couldn't they?), others saying the team doesn't seem to be playing with the same emotion in games as they did in the first round (how couldn't they?). Maybe they should put a cardboard cutout of Sid Crosby along their bench tomorrow night to properly fire themselves up.
But recognizing the problem is the first step toward solving it. Expect the Flyers to really come out hard tomorrow night. Whether or not that translates into successful trips through the neutral zone against the Devils is another matter.
Also, forget all those memories of comebacks against the Bruins two years ago and the like -- if the Flyers don't win Game 4 they aren't winning this series.