This past offseason, the Philadelphia Flyers signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a monster 9-year contract, days before the free agency period opened. By trading for Bryzgalov's rights before July 1, they essentially opted to ignore the free agent market in signing a goaltender who is now expected to lead them to a Stanley Cup.
About a week after the Bryzgalov signing, the No. 2 goaltender on the free agent market was still not signed. Tomas Vokoun ultimately wound up signing with the Washington Capitals for pennies on the dollar as compared to what Bryzgalov signed for, and now, on Thursday night in Philly, the goaltenders will battle head-to-head for the first time with their new teams.
It's tough to say which man will come out on top. Both netminders have been absolutely fantastic for their clubs. After a rough first outing against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Vokoun has rebounded wonderfully, putting up a .971 save percentage on top of four wins in his last four games. Bryzgalov has also failed to lose in regulation so far this young season, putting up a .927 overall save percentage in those games and a 1.99 goals against average.
Neither team has a regulation blemish on their record thus far in the season. They're both high-powered, solid on special teams and expected to be right there around the top of the Eastern Conference come the end of the year. Who knows? Tonight's game might turn out being the deciding factor on which team finishes ahead of the other. Should be a hell of a contest.
Game Date/Time: Thursday, October 20 at 7 p.m. ET
Venue: Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
TV: CSN Washington, CSN Philadelphia, NHL Network US