Philadelphia Flyers: Maybe the Goalies Were Never the Problem?

Ian Barry@@xIanxBarryxCorrespondent IIIMay 7, 2012

The playoffs in Philadelphia just wouldn’t feel right without the constant criticism of goaltending.

With that complaint always being the same, the Flyers need to look in the mirror and ask themselves, “Maybe the goaltenders are not the problem, maybe the problem is us.”

Everyone has a friend that has relationships that always fall apart for the same reason and is convinced that they are just unable to find the right person. 

The friend might think that the problems are because they always choose the wrong person, but from the outside looking in, the problems are always the same because they are caused by the friend and not the other people. 

For the Flyers, the problems have also been the same. Goaltending has been an issue that they have struggled with for years.

Philly has been looking for goaltending answers for years, and have gone through a large number of players trying to find the answer. With so many goalies not being up to scratch, maybe the problems are not the goaltenders after all, maybe it is the Flyers. 

Ilya Bryzgalov has struggled for the Flyers, something that is new for him. During Bryzgalov’s time in Phoenix, he was usually a Vezina contender and had plenty of success. 

The Flyers have had many goaltenders over the past few seasons. Sergei Bobrovsky is a very young netminder who is currently backing up Bryzgalov. Bobrovsky could have been signed for a bargain and developed into a franchise goaltender. 

The Flyers have also had Ray Emery, Michael Leighton, Antero Niittymaki, Brian Boucher and Marty Biron over the past few seasons. 

Not all of the Flyers' previous goaltenders are top-level talents, but they have had success. Niittymaki was the MVP of the 2006 Olympic Tournament. Boucher had success in Phoenix where he set an NHL record with five and a half games of consecutive shutout hockey, and Biron has become one of the league’s top backup goaltenders for the New York Rangers

Currently, Bryzgalov is trying to meet the almost impossible expectations that are placed on Flyers goaltenders and has been heavily criticized in the process. 

The Flyers might be scoring enough goals in the playoffs right now to avoid criticism, but they have had some problems of their own. Low shot totals and puck possession time have forced Bryzgalov to keep the team in several games in the second round. 

Bryzgalov is not to blame for the struggles of the Flyers and is one of the best options they could have in net. Philadelphia has always had goaltending issues no matter who is in the net. 

The next time the Flyers want to criticize their goaltending and ask why is the team unable to find a goaltending solution, they should look in the mirror and ask themselves if goaltending is really the issue.