Growing up, my father told me of the bumper stickers that became popular in Philadelphia in the 1970s.
"Only God saves more than Bernie."
The sticker, in reference to Bernie Parent, the only goalkeeper in the Flyers' franchise history to win a Stanley Cup, has likely been copied and used in cities across the country. Just enter your goalkeeper's name and it works.
It's been more meaningful in Philadelphia. You can count on very few fingers the number of shutdown goalies the Flyers have had, and not each of those members is accepted without a fight. Parent, absolutely. Pelle Lindbergh? Most likely, but due to his tragic death, we'll never know. Ron Hextall? I'd say yes. Others would point to his sometimes suspect five-hole.
No one else makes it into the conversation, but for the first time since Hexy, the Flyers have a guy who might. Ilya Bryzgalov, their key off-season signing, has the skill. His days in Phoenix proved it (with an average team skating in front of him, he won more games and posted more shutouts in the last two seasons than other other goaltender in hockey).
The biggest question was about his mental makeup - does Bryz have what it takes to play in Philly, where the media and fans are a tad more intense than in the desert.
The sample size is small, but it sure seems like his mental approach is exactly the kind that will fit in Philly. Bryz is honest, relaxed, funny. He's come out saying he understands people believe he'll deliver the Cup, though points out the truth that it will take more than his efforts for a parade down Broad Street. Thursday night's 40-minute delay was met with humor - he joked he ran back to the hotel for nap before the faceoff. He tweets about his life, his teammates, his family and his food choices ("Tuna tartar at rouge bar very very good," for instance).
He's the kind of guy who has fun playing. He's the kind of relaxed guy who inspires confidence.
Maybe he's the kind of guy who could be the one.