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.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.
Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.
The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.
According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”
Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:
The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.
Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.
In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two: