Despite public denials from four Flyers players, multiple sources confirmed to the Daily News that goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov did "doze off" during a team meeting on Monday. His sleep habits, however, were not the reason for Steve Mason making his first start as a Flyer on Tuesday on Long Island in the team's biggest game of the season. The news - that cameras caught Bryzgalov with his eyes closed on the bench during the third period of Saturday's loss in Winnipeg - rippled throughout the team on its charter flight home. Bryzgalov was pulled after allowing four goals in the second period. After practice on Monday, coach Peter Laviolette notified both Mason and Bryzgalov of his plans to start Mason. At that point, multiple players confirmed Bryzgalov closed his eyes during the team's brief meeting that followed him being notified. "Whether he was actually sleeping or not, no one knows for sure," said one player on the condition of anonymity, for fear of retribution. "It seemed like he may have been doing it to get a rise out of other players. I'm not really sure why he did it, or if he was faking it. Either way, it seemed to catch a lot of people by surprise and angered a few people." Once again, Bryzgalov is in the thick of controversy - something that has marred his 2 years in Philadelphia since he signed a 9-year, $51 million deal in 2011. The Daily News had begun to report the story Tuesday but was unable to question both Bryzgalov and Laviolette. On Wednesday, Harry Mayes, a host for the team's flagship radio station, 97.5 FM "The Fanatic," reported that Bryzgalov was "benched" because he fell asleep in the meeting. Bryzgalov would have made his 23rd straight start of the season on Tuesday. He was not available to answer questions on Wednesday, despite the fact that he practiced with the team's healthy scratches in Voorhees, N.J. "Did he get benched because he . . . [fell asleep in a meeting]?" Laviolette said. "That's completely incorrect." Laviolette was responding to the question he was asked. However, he was not asked directly if Bryzgalov appeared to be sleeping. When pressed to further clarify by the Daily News after his meeting with the media ended, Laviolette offered a blanket statement: "Our meetings are team meetings. They're not for media or public consumption." Whether Bryzgalov's antics on the bench in Winnipeg had anything to do with Laviolette's decision to start Mason on Monday remains unclear. Flyers veteran Mike Knuble said it would be impossible for a teammate to fall asleep in "not even a half a cup meeting." "Not unless they're narcoleptic," Knuble said. "You hardly even sat down. I don't think your [butt] made your spot on the bench warm enough. That's silly. That's asinine. You're sitting in a bright room in the middle of the day."