85 in a row
Posted 3:14 PM ET | Comments 0
April 6, 2010. The Philadelphia Flyers were fighting for their playoff lives. They'd recently lost seven of eight, but were fresh off a 4-3 win over Detroit. They were scrapping, scoreboard watching, and on this day shutting out the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Claude Giroux scored on the power play in the first period. Mike Richards added an empty netter. Daniel Carcillo and Arron Asham received fighting majors. Brian Boucher stopped 23 Tornoto shots.
Five days later, the Flyers topped the New York Rangers in a shootout that proplled them on a run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Eighty-five regular season games later, the situation was much different. Carcillo, Richards, Asham and Boucher were long gone. So was the feeling of a shutout. Yes, it had been that long - 85 regular season games without a shutout. According to couchpotatohockey.com, the regular-season record is 264 games, set by the Calgary Flames. So, yeah, it wasn't like the streak was epic or anything, but it was a whole heck of a long time.
And then Ilya Bryzgalov happened. Oct. 8, 2011. Flyers 3, New Jersey Devils 0.
Of the total number of shutouts he has in his career (now 24) this won't be his most memorable. Bryz made 20 saves, the best of which came during a stretch in the second period where the Flyers killed off a stretch of three straight Devil powerplays. This wasn't a game he stole. The Flyers dominated. And it is nice to get shutout talk out of the way early.
The Flyers spent a lot of money into their defense and goaltender. A look at the Eastern Conference, with the powerful attacks teams like Pittsburgh and Washington can throw at you, well, it's obvious why. Through two games this season, two games with fewer than 25 shots against and a total of one goal allowed, it looks like a solid investment.
Yes, there is a long way to go, and yes, not everything is right in Flyerville. A powerplay that goes 0-for-8 won't win any championships.
But thre were so many changes up front, the offense needs time to gel. The defense, meanwhile, is back. And Bryzgalov might be as good as advertised.