VOORHEES, N.J. | Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov said that Russian hockey players are tight – “good friendship. Stand up for each other.” So he knows Alex Ovechkin.
Just not very well on the ice. Bryzgalov and Ovechkin have only met twice in the NHL. The Capitals star was held scoreless last season against Bryzgalov and the Coyotes but beat them the previous year, contributing an empty-net goal and an assist. He has never scored on Bryzgalov.
Asked what he knew about Ovechkin on Wednesday, the Bryzgalov comedy show took over.
“He’s Russian,” the goalie said. “He wears No. 8. He signed a contract with Gillette.”
Bryzgalov is just starting to pick up on Ovechkin, the Caps and life in the Eastern Conference.
“I’m not studying him. I don’t have much experience against him,” he said. “I’ve only played against him two games. That’s it. This whole conference is new.”
Given the limited experience playing against Ovechkin, Bryzgalov was asked if that could play to the Caps left wing’s advantage.
“I don’t think so,” Bryzgalov said. “He doesn’t know anything about me.”
Seemingly every time the Caps were brought up in the Flyers’ locker room Wednesday, Ovechkin’s name was involved.
Rookie Matt Read can’t wait until the puck drops and he can shake some nerves out – and then stop Ovechkin.
“I’ll notice him for sure. He’s probably one of the top two, three players in the world. I love the opportunity to go out there and shut him down for the night – if he’s on the power play or whatever,” Read said. “[If] I’m penalty-killing against him, do the best I can to shut him down. It’s just something that I’ve never dreamed of.”
Offensively, Read has one more goal (two) than Ovechkin, a stat the 25-year-old Flyers winger wasn’t aware of.
“That’s great,” Read said, “but it’s still early in the season and I’m sure he’ll pick it up and he’ll do his thing.”
Captain Chris Pronger is likewise looking forward to facing the undefeated Caps - and Ovechkin.
“Yeah, you always want to play against the best, and match up and see how you fare,” Pronger said. “[Thursday] night will be no different. They have a great, deep group over there that can score a lot of goals, and we have to play well defensively – and from that, we’ll gain some offense.”