Bryzgalov's Meltdown Gives Pens Chance

Bryzgalov's Meltdown Gives Pens Chance

Ilya Bryzgalov was supposed to break the spell. Signing him to a hu-mahn-gus $51 million contract was supposed to exorcise the demons, lift the Curse, usher in a bright new era. But no, it will never be that easy.

The Flyers could afford to lose Game 4 of this ridiculous first-round series with Pittsburgh. No one expected them to sweep the Penguins, anyway. What they could not afford was another Chernobyl in net. A Bryzgalov meltdown was the one thing that could give the Penguins a real chance and the worst thing for the Flyers if they do manage to close this thing out.

Lo and behold, Bryzgalov lost control of a rebound (Evgeni Malkin thanked him), flopped around on the side of the net (Jordan Staal tipped his helmet), and stood statue-still as shots whizzed by (Matt Niskanen and Kris Letang will send cards).

This series had become a race against the clock for the Flyers. They had overwhelmed Pittsburgh's defenses so thoroughly, it was all too easy to overlook Bryzgalov's shaky play. He was OK in Game 1, wildly erratic (with some admittedly huge clutch saves) in Game 2, and just plain wobbly in Game 3. The question was whether the Flyers could close this thing out before Bryzgalov produced a fullblown, bats-fleeing-the-belfry howler.

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