There’s no denying that Ilya Bryzgalov and the Philadelphia Flyers have been having a stellar month. Posting a 10-1-1 record in March and maintaining an impressive 1.22 GAA, Bryz and the Flyers have had a universal rebirth at the most crucial time of the year. And with the Flyers clinching the playoffs Saturday night, there’s no reason this spaceship is going to land anytime soon.
More than any other sport, hockey relies heavily on the team’s momentum to carry them through the playoffs. That losing streak you had in December? Forget about it. February? Nope, don’t care. Hot streak with only seven games left in the season? Now you have my attention.
Momentum is mechanically defined as the product of both mass and velocity. In the Flyers case, the mass (Bryz) and velocity (Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, and the defense) seem to be in motion as we approach the playoffs. And oh what an interesting stretch it will be. With the flyers slated to play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round as of right now, a blood bath is sure to ensue if last weekends overtime win over the Penguins was any indication.
So why the sudden cosmic alignment? Gone are Bryzgalovs irrelevant, yet utterly hilarious rants about the universe. Instead, we are hearing a more confident man between the pipes talk about his increased focus and superb support from the defense, especially from newly acquired teammates, Pavel Kubina and Nicklas Grossmann.
Bryzgalov has been the NHL’s star of the week for two consecutive weeks, the first player to do so this season, in part because of his improved performance, but his success also weighs heavily on the shoulders of the defense. For the most part, the Flyers D have done a solid job blocking shots and protecting the net. And you know what they say, defense wins championships. So as we make our way toward April and the playoffs, I can’t help but be intrigued by the physics of the universe as it relates to our otherworldly goaltender.
An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
Maybe Bryz should stick with physics. Not astronomy.