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Roenick on Bryzgalov: “Bryz is an odd bird”

Jan 12, 2012, 12:14 PM EDT

Ilya Bryzgalov Getty Images

Sam Donnellon of spoke with former Flyer (and NHL on NBC analyst) Jeremy Roenick about the plight of Philadelphia netminder Ilya Bryzgalov.

Roenick, as you may have seen on HBO 24/7, sought out Bryzgalov at the Winter Classic and offered words of encouragement, something the Russian netminder probably appreciated. Bryzgalov has struggled throughout his first season in Philly (3.07 GAA, .891 save percentage) and was benched for the marquee event in favor of backup Sergei Bobrovsky.

Making matters worse, Bobrovsky will make his second consecutive start tonight against the Islanders.

So, what does JR make of the Bryzgalov situation?

“It’s a very tough position,” Roenick said. “And when you get a contract like he got in a city like Philadelphia, where the expectations are immense, it’s very easy to feel the pressure.”

Some say Bryzgalov’s antics only increase that pressure. Deemed quirky at the best of times and flaky at the worst, Bryzgalov’s bizarre quotes and unique outlook on the universe are becoming less endearing (to Flyers fans especially) with every poor performance.

Notorious oddballs like Ed Belfour and Dominik Hasek — both former Roenick teammates — were given a green light for their goofiness because they were arguably the finest netminders in the game.

Bryzgalov currently ranks 59th in goals-against and 66th in save percentage.

“I definitely think that Bryz is an odd bird,” Roenick said. “Lots of goaltenders I’ve played with are odd birds. It doesn’t make him different.

“I don’t know if Bryz goes into his own little world and just hangs out there, but sometimes goaltenders need to just do that. Belfour would do that on game days. He’d go into his own little world, a world in which he just got angry. So that competitive edge would just come out in him.

“When Dominik first came over from the Czech Republic, he would just drop the stick in practice and tell you to shoot harder and faster. He’d tell you to shoot at his head so he could practice making saves with his head.

“He was just nuts.”

Another difference between Bryzgalov and Belfour/Hasek is Bryz routinely owns up to his shortcomings, even joking about them. He said he was “lost in the woods” after a 9-8 loss to Winnipeg earlier this season and joked the Flyers had “a chance to win” the Winter Classic because Bobrovsky was playing, not him.

Not that Roenick sees a problem with such honesty.

“Actually my hat’s off to him for calling himself out,” said Roenick. “I respect him for calling himself out. For telling the media that he’s not been good. He’s not hiding behind anything.

“He might be a little too honest. But hopefully people can appreciate that.”

  1. jpelle82 - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    thanks captain obvious…

  2. drewsylvania - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    The best part is that we all called it.

  3. paulsdamnblog - Jan 12, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    Where would good sports journalism be without JR, and his keen insights?

  4. nhlbruins90 - Jan 12, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    He probably needs to quiet down a bit until he gets his game back. Funny and quirky can turn to irritating and weird quickly when things ain’t going so well.

    I haven’t actually heard his comments about the universe, but we could really be in a continuous cycle of big bangs and black holes. Maybe there are many universes out there, cycling between big bangs and then swallowed up by huge black holes, only to explode again in another big bang. What happens to all that matter in the black hole, right? And how did that all start … by magic? And where does it end? It doesn’t.

    Makes hockey seem sort of trivial in the long sweep of things. Until the playoffs start.

  5. farvefromover - Jan 12, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    Roenick smells like my bulldogs ass. Sort of sounds the same too

  6. anonymouslyanonymouscommentor - Jan 12, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    The impression I got from 24/7 is that his teammates genuinely dislike him or are intolerant of him…can’t be good for his confidence

    • danphipps01 - Jan 12, 2012 at 9:48 PM

      Look at it from their perspective – the team’s had some trouble winning lately, lost some major blowouts through the first half of the season and been forced to score ALL THE TIME to net the wins they DO get. The workload required for their wins is on the forwards and defensemen and Bryz doesn’t seem to be pulling his weight. Instead, his brutal performance is only laying more at everyone else’s feet. To top it all off, he spends his time rambling insanely and trying to be the funny guy – and though the average fan or HBO viewer probably views him as such, how would his teammates look at it? I wouldn’t be surprised if they took it as him not taking his role seriously, and when he plays as badly as he does on a team with such high expectations, that’d piss them off real quick. Nobody cared if Belfour or Hasek were crazy. They were amazing. Bryzgalov is literally one of the worst goalies this season. The Flyers can’t be happy that he seems so carefree when he sucks out loud.

      • anonymouslyanonymouscommentor - Jan 13, 2012 at 9:20 AM

        What came first, the bad performances of the ostracizing? The evidence points to the ostracizing. Here are the numbers:

        Before the Universe episode: 15 W – 6 L, 2.52 GAA

        After the Universe episode: 2 W – 5 L, 3.86 GAA

        After starting off the season winning three straight, Bryz did have a 4 game skid, but was 12-2 after that leading up to the “Universe” episode. After the Universe episode, Bryz has looked atrocious, including the very first game following it in which Bryz allowed 5 goals and the team lost 6-0.

  7. ikillchicken - Jan 13, 2012 at 1:37 AM

    I love hearing this guy’s bizarre and honest thoughts on everything. I can see where this may begin to get a little annoying for Flyers fans though.

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