PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 02: Head coach Peter Laviolette of the Philadelphia Flyers talks to his team against the New York Rangers during the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park on January 2, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Peter Laviolette is going with Sergei Bobrovsky in goal tonight, and it's easy to understand why: Bob has ridiculous numbers against the New York Islanders. In eight games, he's 7-0-0 with a .944 save percentage and a 1.86 GAA against them in his career so far.
Meanwhile, Ilya Bryzgalov has only played in a handful of games against NYI, but he's had little to no success. In fact, in his last game against them on November 23, he allowed three goals on nine shots and Bob had to come in and pitch a shutout the rest of the way in relief in order for the Flyers to have a chance. (They won, 4-3, in overtime.)
Some might argue that in order to get Ilya Bryzgalov back on the wagon, they should give him a string of games to get his mind back into the game. They should give him the starting role, essentially. But that's not what Peter Laviolette's M.O. suggests. (Well, okay, it's not what his recent M.O. suggests.)
This season, in which the Flyers so-called starter has failed to grab hold of the position in a convincing way thus far, Laviolette has very obviously gone with the matchups when deciding who to start in goal. Tonight is the perfect example, as is last week's game vs. the Isles or the last game in Pittsburgh, where Bob has never lost.
Here's perhaps the most illuminating example, as pointed out by our Eric T. Play a little game with us for a second:
- October 29: Bryz wins, gives up one goal.
- November 2: Bryz wins, gives up two goals.
- November 3: Bob loses, gives up three goals.
- November 5: Bryz wins, gives up two goals.
- November 9: Bryz loses in overtime, gives up two goals.
- November 13: Bryz wins, gives up two goals.
- November 14: Bob loses, gives up three goals.
- November 17: Bryz wins, gives up one goal.
Who should you start on November 19? Bryzgalov has gone a full week with just one start. He hasn't given up more than two goals in about three weeks, while Sergei Bobrovsky has given up three goals in each of his last two starts over that period, both losses.
You'd start Bryzgalov, right?
But Laviolette started Bob, because the Flyers were in Winnipeg to face the Jets. You know, the same Jets that shelled Bryzgalov with four goals on 10 shots on October 27 -- the Lost In The Woods game. Laviolette didn't want to risk throwing Bryzgalov back into those woods, despite how well he had played lately, so he went with Bob.
It's an interesting glimpse into how Peter Laviolette has handled his goaltenders this season, and it's an easy way to understand why he's going with Bobrovsky tonight on Long Island, despite the perceived need to give Bryzgalov as many starts as possible right now.