Ilya Bryzgalov

In defense of Bryzgalov (sort of)

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As a statistic to judge the performance of goalies, save percentage has its issues.

Among the things one can say in retort to a poor save percentage:

—Yeah, but the defense isn’t very good. Odd-man rushes. Blown coverages. Not clearing rebounds. Every second shot seems to be a prime scoring opportunity.

—Yeah, but the team is shorthanded all the time. Power-play shots are typically better in quality, which is why a goalie’s save percentage is usually lower when shorthanded.

Both of the above have been said about the Philadelphia Flyers, and both should be taken into account when judging their embattled goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov.

Take this goal from Saturday’s 4-1 loss in Winnipeg:

If you’re picking out one player to blame on that shift, it’s Flyers defenseman Oliver Lauridsen, who allowed Mike Santorelli a free pass to the front of the net.

Granted, every team has breakdowns in defense. And if you went through all the goals Bryzgalov allowed this season, you’d find a bunch that he should’ve stopped.

Bryzgalov’s save percentage is .896, among the lowest in the NHL.

Whether the Flyers buy him out this summer could, of course, come down to more than just his play on the ice. The 32-year-old has a unique personality that’s great for the media, but may not be so good for the team. (Not being in the room, it’s hard to say if this is a real concern or just makes for a good story.)

I’m not about to go through all the goals Bryzgalov has allowed with the Flyers and determine how many he should’ve stopped. It would take a long time.

But if I’m general manager Paul Holmgren, I’d want to know exactly how a goalie that was lights out in Phoenix two years ago has been anything but in Philadelphia. Is it all on Bryzgalov? Because if it’s not, all you’re doing is setting up the next guy — maybe it’s Phoenix goalie Mike Smith! — to fail.

Related: Bryzgalov says he doesn’t care if the Flyers buy him out

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.