Why You Heff to be Bad?

Justin Goldman

2011-12-29

Ilya Bryzgalov

Ilya Bryzgalov, Ilya Bryzgalov, everyone's talking about Ilya Bryzgalov. The world's favorite character on HBO's hit show 24/7 is giving us plenty to laugh about, and for good reason. His quips on tigers and outlook on life and the universe are a perfect example of what makes goalies so dynamic. I've seen the, "Bryzgalov is proof that all goalies are crazy…" line more in the past three weeks than I can handle, and I was just in Costa Rica for seven days.

 

It is my contention and opinion, however, that the show is negatively affecting his game right now, which is an issue fantasy managers need to understand. I feel his inflating ego is distracting him from playing with a clear and focused mind, mainly because way too much of the spotlight is shining in his direction.

 

And the brighter the light shines on a goalie in Bryzgalov's current situation, the darker the shadow.

 

Since the first episode of 24/7 aired on Dec. 14, Bryzgalov has gone 0-3-1, allowing 16 goals on 87 shots, which equals a brutal .816 save percentage. As he has shown over the past few seasons, when his rhythm is off, he's really bad. Even a blind man can see that he's way too passive, inattentive, unsure of his positioning, and lacking the focus to make early saves or the timely saves. And that's a pretty good reflection of his game over the past two weeks.

 

It is not traditional fantasy analysis to say a goalie's ego is the root of his current struggles, but it is because most analysts fail to realize the importance of the mental element that it is considered untraditional. But you all know me by now, and you all know I personally won't buy in to the fact that the reason he's so bad right now is another one of those scary Bryzgalov weak streaks.

 

At the start of the season, I attributed his struggles to the fact that he was getting acclimated to a new team, a new conference, new pressures, and new surroundings. That was valid. That was fair.

 

But in the middle of December, especially considering how well he played leading up to Dec. 14, getting acclimated is no longer an excuse. That ship sailed way back in November, so there is absolutely no excuse for his struggles right now. I won't even take the loss of Chris Pronger as an excuse. Elite goalies know how to step up their game when a top player goes down, and Bryzgalov already had to play without Pronger once before.

 

All of the statistical analysis you need to evaluate Bryzgalov's current struggles can be found in this post by Broad Street Hockey. There are many fantasy tidbits to be extrapolated from the graphs included, and they'll help you draw your own conclusions. I've done this for myself, and it didn't really sway me. I firmly believe that the cameras, the buzz from the media, and the sheer fandom he's getting right now is distracting him straight up, plain and simple.

 

Moving forward, the true invariable here is Sergei Bobrovsky. He's starting tonight's final Winter Classic tune-up game against the Penguins – a team he holds a 3-1-1 personal record against, along with a 2.17 goals-against average and .926 SP%. If he plays well tonight, Peter Laviolette will have to answer numerous questions from the media on who will start in the Winter Classic, and the answer may not come so easily.

 

I'm sure Bryzgalov will start on Jan. 2, but I still feel that he's likely to struggle for another 7-10 days due to the distractions caused by 24/7. But once the cameras are finally out of the way and his day