Ilya Bryzgalov

Roenick on Bryzgalov: “Bryz is an odd bird”

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Sam Donnellon of Philly.com spoke with former Flyer (and NHL on NBC analyst) Jeremy Roenick about the plight of Philadelphia netminder Ilya Bryzgalov.

Roenick, as you may have seen on HBO 24/7, sought out Bryzgalov at the Winter Classic and offered words of encouragement, something the Russian netminder probably appreciated. Bryzgalov has struggled throughout his first season in Philly (3.07 GAA, .891 save percentage) and was benched for the marquee event in favor of backup Sergei Bobrovsky.

Making matters worse, Bobrovsky will make his second consecutive start tonight against the Islanders.

So, what does JR make of the Bryzgalov situation?

“It’s a very tough position,” Roenick said. “And when you get a contract like he got in a city like Philadelphia, where the expectations are immense, it’s very easy to feel the pressure.”

Some say Bryzgalov’s antics only increase that pressure. Deemed quirky at the best of times and flaky at the worst, Bryzgalov’s bizarre quotes and unique outlook on the universe are becoming less endearing (to Flyers fans especially) with every poor performance.

Notorious oddballs like Ed Belfour and Dominik Hasek — both former Roenick teammates — were given a green light for their goofiness because they were arguably the finest netminders in the game.

Bryzgalov currently ranks 59th in goals-against and 66th in save percentage.

“I definitely think that Bryz is an odd bird,” Roenick said. “Lots of goaltenders I’ve played with are odd birds. It doesn’t make him different.

“I don’t know if Bryz goes into his own little world and just hangs out there, but sometimes goaltenders need to just do that. Belfour would do that on game days. He’d go into his own little world, a world in which he just got angry. So that competitive edge would just come out in him.

“When Dominik first came over from the Czech Republic, he would just drop the stick in practice and tell you to shoot harder and faster. He’d tell you to shoot at his head so he could practice making saves with his head.

“He was just nuts.”

Another difference between Bryzgalov and Belfour/Hasek is Bryz routinely owns up to his shortcomings, even joking about them. He said he was “lost in the woods” after a 9-8 loss to Winnipeg earlier this season and joked the Flyers had “a chance to win” the Winter Classic because Bobrovsky was playing, not him.

Not that Roenick sees a problem with such honesty.

“Actually my hat’s off to him for calling himself out,” said Roenick. “I respect him for calling himself out. For telling the media that he’s not been good. He’s not hiding behind anything.

“He might be a little too honest. But hopefully people can appreciate that.”

PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

–The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

–Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

–A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

–“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

–Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial:

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.