WASHINGTON, DC — Ilya Bryzgalov bobbed his head to the thumping beat filling the Philadelphia Flyers' victorious locker room, following his 1-0 shutout of the Washington Capitals on Sunday night. For a game that felt like an old school Patrick Division affair, the old school hip-hop on the soundtrack seemed appropriate.
"From the depths of the sea, back to the block/Snoop Doggy Dogg, Funky, yes but of the Doc ..."
Ah, the heady rhymes of Snoop and the spacey bravado of Bryz. Expect the Flyers goaltender, in arguably his tightest groove of the season, wasn't waxing philosophical after the win.
"Stop worrying about me, guys. Seriously," said Bryzgalov when asked about his performance in the 1-0 victory, subsequently deflecting every other question about his effort against the Caps.
"I think it was an outstanding team effort. Guys sacrificed themselves, blocking shots, battle along the boards. They did everything the coach ask for the win."
Bryzgalov has won three of four starts; his only loss was an otherwise stellar 22-save performance at the San Jose Sharks.
Against the Capitals, he made 34 saves and rarely looked rattled or chaotic between the pipes — and rarely leaving a second opportunity for Capitals attackers. He saw the puck well, and stopped everything he saw on a night when the Flyers needed it, down both defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros entering the game.
But as he said, it was a team effort; and the Flyers are starting to understand how they need to play to help Bryzgalov thrive.
"We've realized, as a team in front of him, that we have to play a certain way. Playing better defense, blocking more shots. And when things break down, he's there to make a big save," said Flyers forward Scott Hartnell. "Even though they had a lot of zone time and cycled well, they didn't really have the point chances. We did a good job getting into the shot lanes. Little things like that add up."
It's all adding up to the best stretch for Bryzgalov of the season, which also seems to be his most non-controversial stretch of the season as well. He's pulled the "it's not about me, guys" card in other recent interviews, playing it safe and not offering up any "24/7"-esque distractions to the cameras. Like on NBC Sports Network after the game:
He's come a long way from his Winter Classic starting goalie announcement debacle, either by his own designs or through some edict from management.
Is he feeling better about himself and his performances?
"Like I said before guys, stop worrying about me," he said.
The Flyers hope they can finally say the same.