The boos rained down from a sellout crowd to watch the inter-Pennsylvania rivalry unfold, but it was Ilya Bryzgalov who came unraveled.
The Flyers' $51 million goalie gave up back-to-back shorthanded goals on the same power play. The Penguins took a 3-2 lead, and all three goals could have been stopped. That's when Peter Laviolette pulled Bryzgalov for Sergei Bobrovsky, who was equally inept at stopping the puck. He allowed another three goals in the Flyers' 6-4 loss to Pittsburgh.
"It's an easy life when you can blame the one guy," Bryzgalov said. "'It's a bad goal. It's the goalie's mistake.' It's easy to find a scapegoat when you point to one guy and say, 'We're always losing because we have a bad goalie.' But I think it's the wrong philosophy. I know I was frustrated with my game today, and I know I've got to be better. I will continue to work on this, but I'm just trying to find peace in my soul to play in this city."
It appears as though all confidence is lost for Bryzgalov, whose contract will remain Flyers property for the next eight seasons. But his teammates still have faith.
"I think when we win, you guys like to give the credit to the players, and when we lose, you like to give the (blame) to the goalies," Claude Giroux said. "We're behind our two goalies and we have confidence in them. Bad goals are going to happen, but they're two good goalies, and we know we have to be better in front of them. It was 3-3 going into the third, we have to find a way to get some goals to win, and it didn't happen. It's not just about Bryz, it's about the team. A lot of pressure is put on Bryz, and it shouldn't be like that. I think he's a good goalie. We're behind him, and I think we just have to go forward from here."
The Flyers had 15 documented giveaways against the Penguins en route to being lit up for six goals. There were odd-man rushes when there shouldn't have been. There were breakaways for the Penguins while the Flyers were on the power play. It's clear that the struggles didn't stop in the Flyers' crease, but Laviolette still would have liked to see a big stop from either of his goalies.
"I think everybody is frustrated right now with the loss to Pittsburgh, and I think that we can be better in a lot of different areas, and that certainly is one of them," the coach said.
The Flyers will embark on a four-game Western road trip. So, where do they go from here? It doesn't seem to matter to the team. They claim goaltending is getting far too much attention considering how many shortcomings they have right now. But the fans at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday booed only the goaltending.
"I think those guys need to kind of keep quiet up there," said James van Riemsdyk, who returned after missing 15 games with a concussion. "I know they pay their money to see the team, but you win as a team and you lose as a team. You can't ever pinpoint it on one guy, and we know those guys are working hard back there, so we're going to have to support them a little bit better and figure it out. It's not just one guy; it's all 20 of us that have to turn this thing around."
Bryzgalov certainly appreciated the support.
"It's nice to hear from your teammates that they have faith in us and feel the support," he said. "I said before, it's easy to get away and point to the one guy and say, 'We lose because our goalie or someone else.' It's a team game and everybody on the ice. Maybe next night, the goalie can steal the game."
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