TAMPA - It's difficult not to root for Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Flyers' likable 31-year-old goalie has a great sense of humor and people gravitate toward him.
Clearly, the colorful, zany Bryzgalov has been the star of HBO's 24/7, which follows the Flyers and Rangers as they prepare to play in the Winter Classic on Jan. 2.
And, clearly, to use a Bryzgalov-ism, the former Phoenix star has humungous big holes in his game right now.
Maybe not as big as the universe, but big, nonetheless.
Bryzgalov lost his fourth straight on Tuesday and was the main reason the Flyers dropped a 5-1 decision to Tampa Bay.
When reporters asked him about his performance, Bryzgalov was at first sarcastic, saying he was OUTSTANDING.
Then he bashed himself and used an f-bomb on live TV when talking about his play, saying, in effect, he let the team down and has to be better.
The Flyers can only hope it's as therapeutic as earlier in the season, when Bryzgalov said he had "zero confidence" and was "lost in the woods" after a 9-8 relief loss to Winnipeg. After that defeat, he went 5-0-1 with a 1.66 goals-against average in his next six starts.
Granted, he wasn't as tough on himself after this defeat on Tuesday, but at least he didn't blame the defense _ as he has after two games _ and didn't hide from reporters after allowing five goals on just 16 shots. (The Flyers had one goal on 32 shots.).
Bryzgalov has been a major disappointment, and club chairman Ed Snider has to be wondering if he could have spent $51 million more wisely. In many games, he has looked unsure of himself and appeared out position too often. He seems to be scrambling in the net _ and not playing with the confidence that marked his tenure in Phoenix.
So what do the Flyers do?
The hunch here is they go with second-year goalie Sergei Bobrovsky _ who has been more consistent than Bryzgalov _ on Thursday in Pittsburgh. If Bobrovsky plays well, who do you start in the Winter Classic?
Start debating, folks.
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Breakaways. The Flyers have lost just seven road games this season, including two each to Tampa Bay and the Rangers….This was just the fourth time the Flyers have lost consecutive games this season; they have not lost three in a row….Danny Briere fired 11 shots, including seven on goal…..The Lightning had 32 shots toward the net (16 on goal, seven blocked, nine missed). The Flyers had 73 shots (32 on goal, 22 blocked, 19 that missed)….Max Talbot won just three of 14 faceoffs (21 percent).
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Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.