GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 10: Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov #30 of the Phoenix Coyotes is congratulated by Brett MacLean #39 and teammates after defeating the Calgary Flames in the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on March 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Flames 3-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Coyotes broadcaster Todd Walsh caught up with a few members of the club today, asking them about facing off against their former goaltender. The quotes were... well, just see them for yourself.
Q: What is this team's collective mindset as you take on your former goaltender?
First of all we have to throw a lot of pucks at Bryz. He's known for letting in bad goals, you know, so I think our mindset is going to be get the puck down behind the net and hopefully he comes out and plays a few because he doesn't like to do that.
We have to put some pressure on Bryz. We've gotta make it a tough night, we gotta have guys in front, we've gotta be banging away at rebounds. He gets frustrated that way.
Q: I'm sure there will be some chirping involved, right?
That's expected in every game. But it might go to the extreme today.
Q: There is a mental strength that is missing there, right?
We're actually glad -- first of all, I'm glad he's gone because the guy we brought in has done a great job and fitted in real well, made our team even closer. There was some animosity there with Bryz sometimes. We don't have that with [Mike Smith] so we have a good group and we're winning games because of it.
Q: On using this game as motivation:
It's gonna be great. You know Bryz will be just as prepared. Bryz is one of the best goalies in the game and when he wants to play, one of the best goalies you can have out there. We have a good goalie and a good system and we're going to do what we can to get pucks to the net. I think it's going to be an ugly goal from the side that'll go in on Bryz.
Wow, yikes. Even in praising Bryzgalov, Morris is pretty harsh with it. "Known for letting in bad goals?" "I'm glad he's gone." "When he wants to play." Adrian Aucoin shared the same type of sentiments.
Q: I actually used a quote of yours you gave to NHL.com about Mr. Bryzgalov -- it was more about Mike Smith, though, where you said he's more approachable. He's here everyday and I can get to know him as a teammate. Can you take that a little further? What did you mean specifically?
We don't always try to win for the right reasons, but anybody who is a professional wants to win no matter what the situation is, who your teammates are, coaches are, how many fans you have there, anything. But it adds to your motivation when you have a good guy back there who you always want to do well for.
Q: Derek Morris just described the relationship between the room and Ilya last year as one with animosity. Is he right?
Absolutely. I honestly haven't met almost any hockey player that's a bad person. I think he was different as a player -- obviously he was a great player -- more as a person. Sometimes he just did things that weren't very typical of hockey players or teammates but he's a good goalie.
Q: Is he misunderstood? Sometimes you look at a guy who's speaking a second language and go wait a minute. My take on it is that's an excuse, so I'm gonna say no, but I'm not his teammate. I was just watching.
No, he's a pretty smart guy. He knew what he was saying.
None of this really has any implication on the Flyers this season, but it is pretty eye-opening stuff. I had no idea Bryzgalov was the kind of guy that would have this impact on his teammates, and ultimately, if the results are there on the ice, it doesn't really matter. But it's certainly fascinating to hear, isn't it?
Thanks to Carl Putnam at Five For Howling for the heads up on these.