Ilya Bryzgalov has a long history of giving unusual quotes, to the point where it rubbed Flyers GM Paul Holmgren the wrong way long before he was bought out. That issue hasn’t come up since he moved to Edmonton, but lately his reactions to conceded goals is drawing some unwanted attention.
The first incident occurred during Saturday’s game when his former Flyers scored the game-tying goal late in the third period and tossed his stick in frustration:
He started again on Tuesday and this time surrendered the game-tying goal to Phoenix’s Mikkel Boedker with just 1:10 minutes left in the third period. That led to him throwing his arms up in frustration and glared at one of his defensemen:
“If you’re doing it at one of your teammates, that’s not a very good thing to do, because sooner or later you’re going to make a mistake and I’m fairly certain you’re not going to want your teammates doing that to you,” Eakins told the Edmonton Sun, although he added that he doesn’t want to assume that Bryzgalov was attempting to call anyone out.
Eakins talked to Bryzgalov after he tossed his stick in the Flyers’ game and told him that he’s good with a goaltender venting frustration like that a couple times a season, but he still needs to “watch (his) body language on the ice.”
Of course, we’re only talking about this because the Oilers allowed late, game-tying goals in back-to-back contests. If that didn’t happen, we wouldn’t be able to develop a pattern based on how Bryzgalov reacts in those situations.
Edmonton is last in the Western Conference with a 13-24-5 record.
From the NHL:
Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.
Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.
PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.
Now he knows.
“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”
The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.
More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.
It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”
Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.
“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”
Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot
Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.
RTV Slovenia has the story here.
The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.
The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.
Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.
Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.
Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win
PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.
But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.
The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.
Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.
Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.
Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.