Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Egor Zamula hasn’t had the best time in the NHL, so far. His place on the blue line felt a little forced — especially after a prospect with a higher ceiling in Cam York was sent down to the AHL before the Russian defenseman — but he has made his time in Philadelphia worth it.
Despite leading Flyers defensemen in giveaways per hour — has six giveaways and has played in just nine games — Zamula is trying to keep his chin up and take this time as a learning opportunity to have short-term memory when it comes to making mistakes on the ice.
“I work on that in my head first,” Zamula said when asked about recovering those mistakes, “because if you have a bad shift in the first period, you need to be ready to play the second shift as hard as you can. Because if you start thinking about your first shift, you’re going to be shit on your second shift and your game is going to be not great.”
The 22-year-old blueliner isn’t doing it just by himself though. He has found some compatriots in fellow Russian players that have enough experience in the NHL (good and bad) to tell him how to get through some troubling times.
“I talk to older guys like Anisimov and Provy — he tries to help me a lot,” Zamula said. “If I have a bad game, he tells me ‘Go home, go sleep, don’t worry about this game. Wake up tomorrow with a good mood, just forget about last game and get ready to play in the next game.’”
Zamula will make his return to NHL ice on Tuesday night as the Flyers host the New York Islanders, something he has not done since Nov. 5. And after going down to Lehigh Valley for two AHL games, he believes he has a good idea what the primary difference between the leagues are.
“I think it’s here,” Zamula said, point to his head. “It’s like, pass. Like, how guys workout — it’s everywhere. I think here, it’s a good speed. ... Here there are a lot of skilled players, a lot of smart players. You look at every team and they have their big stars. When you play against Crosby your first shift, it’s a dream.”
Zamula is playing for the Flyers more out of necessity than performance, since a whole heap of players still remain out with injuries and some prospects must be considered too fragile or risky to just get limited minutes in the top league. Despite all that, at least the young Russian defenseman is taking this opportunity with a purpose and will use it to better himself and attempt to learn.
Because when you play a depth role on a bad team, but are still young, what else is there to do? Just soak it all up from the older guys and hope that you can carve out a path to being on this roster when the team is good again.