Russian NHL players may be a tight-knit group, but they don't exactly know everything there is to know about each other.
For example, when asked what he knew about Capitals superstar and fellow Russian Alex Ovechkin, Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov told reporters, "He's Russian. He wears No. 8. He signed a contract with Gillette."
Commercial endorsements aside, Bryzgalov said he hasn't studied much of Ovechkin's tendencies.
"I never had much experience to play against him," Bryzgalov said. "Only, I guess, two games (when Bryzgalov was with Phoenix)."
In their first meeting, Jan. 23, 2010, Ovechkin had a goal and an assist in a 4-2 Capitals win against the Coyotes. In last season's lone encounter, Feb. 14, 2011, Ovechkin was held to six shots on goal, while Bryzgalov turned aside 29 of 31 shots in a 3-2 Coyotes win.
Ovechkin said he didn't know much about Bryzgalov, either.
"I think everybody knows I have a Gillette contract," he said. "That's nothing new. … We played a couple times against him when he was in Phoenix. He's a big, huge goalie who reads the game well. We have to find a way to score some goals against him."
The pair was teammates on Russia's 2010 Olympic team, and Bryzgalov did say away from the ice, he and Ovechkin are friendly, and even had a barbecue together once.
"Not hamburgers," Bryzgalov said of the fixings. "Borscht, and kabobs."
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Obviously there's a lot of expectations around me but it's something I try not to focus on. I'm just trying to go out there, be myself on the ice every day, try to get better, be myself around the guys in the locker room. I think that's what's made me successful and the person that I am.
— Sabres forward Jack Eichel on transitioning from college hockey to the NHL