After Ilya Bryzgalov allowed three soft goals and was lifted in the second period of an ugly 6-4 Flyers loss at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was safe to assume there'd be something of note in his post-game comments to reporters. Here's the quote you're likely to see bouncing around the Web for the rest of the weekend:
“You know, I think it’s an easy life when you can blame one guy. ’It’s a bad goalie, it’s the goalie’s mistake.’ It’s easy to find a scapegoat. You point to one guy and say we’re always losing because we have a bad goalie, but I think it’s the wrong philosophy. I know I was frustrated in my game today and I know I have to be better and I will continue to work on this, but I will try to find peace in my soul to play in this city.”
Now, that last sentence may set some Flyers fans into being even more angry with the most quoted Russian currently living in North America. Is he saying we're the problem? Or that playing in a demanding market is the problem? Not good if so, considering no one around here likes that kind of talk, and he's inked to here for eight more seasons.
But maybe... It's exactly what he should be saying? Exactly what he does need to do?
Here's the thing. As long as Bryz plays poorly on the ice, there's really no "right" thing to say after the game. Nothing said in the dressing room will soften the blow of a highly paid player underperforming. That's probably part of the reason the team attempted to limit his exposure earlier this season.
If he says he's lost in the woods, we're worried he's soft and he'll never come out. If he says he doesn't want to talk, people think he's being disrespectful. If he so much as mentions the defense, we paint him as blaming his teammates.
And, if he says he just needs to find peace so he can play better here...
Well, what's the reaction?
Personally, I'm fine with that part of today's response. The rest of his comments did allude to his possibly being a too-easy scapegoat today, a sentiment echoed by his teammates but not shared by most fans, including me.
Increasingly though, I don't care what he says after losses, even if he starts blaming it solely on The700Level. All that matters is his play on the ice, which is obviously not good enough. It's also fairly easy to see that his head is not where it needs to be, whether it's in the mask or not. Today's goals, particularly the first two, were soft, to be kind.
The concern now is, can he get it together this season? If not, what faith should we have beyond that? The scary part about his comment is when you let yourself wonder whether he simply can't play with championship pressure on him.