Based on what Danny Briere said today, it’s safe to assume Ilya Bryzgalov wasn’t the most popular guy in the Philadelphia dressing room during his first few months with the team.
“We’ve seen all kinds of Bryz this year,” Briere said, as reported by CSNPhilly.com. “He’s never the same. He’s all over the place. But the last couple of weeks, he’s actually been a great teammate and hopefully, he stays that way.”
When a teammate says you’ve “actually” been a good guy lately, you know a low bar’s been set. Sort of like a Kevin James movie that “actually doesn’t make you want to jump off a cliff,” if one of those is ever made.
Bryzgalov’s posted impressive numbers since the All-Star break (2.03 GAA, .920 SV%). Sunday he shut out the Capitals in Washington, making 34 saves in a 1-0 victory.
It’s not just his play that’s changed either. Briere said that before “everything was about Bryz. When he played well, when he played bad, everything was about Bryz.”
“I found lately, a lot more, it’s not just about him. He’s able to take the blame when there is and give credit to his teammates when that is.”
But like Briere said, Bryzgalov is “never the same,” so we’ll have to see how long the new attitude lasts. Clearly he’s had trouble handling the pressure that goes with playing in Philly and earning big money. And that pressure will only intensify once the playoffs start.
As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.
Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.
Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.
That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.
Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.
It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.
To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.
Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.
In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.
And then Stamkos took the warmup.
As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.
“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”
No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.
EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.
Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.
Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.
Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.