When Philadelphia hosts the Washington Capitals tonight, Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov will be able to look up, see No. 8 on the other team, and know that it’s Alexander Ovechkin.
You know, the guy from Russia who peddles razors on TV.
“He’s Russian,” Bryzgalov replied when asked what he knows about Ovechkin, according to Tim Panaccio at csnphilly.com. “He wears No. 8. He signed a contract with Gillette.”
Right. Anything else?
“I never studied him (as a shooter),” Bryzgalov admitted. “I never had much experience to play against him. Only, I guess, two games. This whole [Eastern] conference is new to me.”
Oddly enough, Bryzgalov’s lack of knowledge might be an advantage tonight.
The Washington Post’s Tarik El-Bashir reported Monday that Caps coach Bruce Boudreau has been working with Ovechkin on becoming less predictable on the ice.
Ovechkin’s go-to move has been to carry the puck into the offensive zone from the left side, then cut hard into the high slot and use the defenseman as a screen. The past two seasons, defenders have been stepping up on him as an opposing forward applies pressure from the backside, often stripping him of the puck or forcing him into a low percentage shot.
That’s still happening too often and he’s still not using his linemates enough.
After the Montreal Canadiens shocked Washington in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, Habs defenseman Josh Gorges said what most Caps watchers already knew about Ovechkin’s tendencies.
“Generally, you know what’s coming,” Gorges said, as reported by the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman. “When he comes in on the off-wing, he’ll try to step to the middle and shoot through you. You can bait him into that.”
But Bryzgalov won’t know that. He’ll probably expect Ovechkin to do something crazy. Like pass the puck.