(Image of the Bryzgalov thermos courtesy of Scotty Hockey, who notes that "someone at Shop NHL has a sense of humor ...")
The Philadelphia Flyers have announced that Ilya Bryzgalov will start at the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday evening. This is important information for a few reasons.
1. It's an indication that Bryzgalov is fine after taking a puck off the hand in practice, something that required X-rays. This is great news, as playing with a broken hand doesn't seem like it would help him improve on that sterling .900 save percentage.
2. It means Bryzgalov will start in an important Eastern Conference matchup, as the Winnipeg Jets are tied for the No. 8 seed in points with the Leafs; meanwhile, the Flyers are jammed up with the Devils, Penguins and Senators for the 4-7 seeds.
3. Most importantly, it means Winnipeg fans will finally get their shot at Bryzgalov.
Please recall that when the Flyers were last in the 'Peg back in November, it was Sergei Bobrovsky that got the start despite all indications that Bryzgalov would appear in Winnipeg for the first time since his infamous "no parks, no entertaining for families" speech. He also said he'd play in the KHL before playing in Winnipeg. Yes, the KHL.
Here's the thing: Bryzgalov has apologized ("I don't want to offend somebody. Sincerely, I apologize if I offend somebody and fans in Canada and Vinny-peg…) to Jets fans. He has proven to be a good sport about the "rivalry," in giving an 8-year-old fan a goalie stick after the boy brought a "BOO BRYZGALOV" sign to the game. And all of this happened before Bryzgalov became a cult icon with this fanciful dialogues on HBO 24/7.
So that's defused all the angst from Winnipeg fans, right? Er, as Winnipeg Whiteout wrote:
"If Bryzgalov plays you can be assured the crowd will be on him, so the Jets must capitalize."
He is, and they will be. Can Bryzgalov earn another victory, and hence another $357,142.85 of his salary per win (projected, of course)?