Bryz: I'm not playing

January, 1, 2012
1/01/12
12:36
PM ET
Leave it to Ilya Byrzgalov to drop a bombshell the day before the 2012 NHL Winter Classic.

The eccentric and outspoken Flyers goaltender, whose existential monologue on "The Universe" made him a cult favorite on the HBO series "24/7," said he will not be starting in the annual outdoor game Monday.

Backup netminder Sergei Bobrovsky will get the nod instead.

"I have great news and even better news," he said to throngs of reporters gathered after the Flyers practice Sunday. "Okay, the great news is I'm not playing [Monday] night and the better news is we have a chance to win the game tomorrow night."

Coach Peter Laviolette would not reveal his starting goaltender, citing team policy.

The 31-year-old Bryzgalov, who inked a whopping nine-year deal worth $51 million with the Flyers this summer, has struggled recently. In his last outing, he surrendered five goals on 16 shots in the Flyers' 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay December last Tuesday.

Bryzgalov has given up an average of four goals per game in his last four starts; meanwhile, Bobrovsky has flourished.

The 23-year-old has given up only seven goals combined over his last five games and boasts an 8-2-1 record with a 2.52 goals against average and .914 save percentage.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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