Minnesota Wild fans might have been serenading Corey Crawford with a goalie chant during Game 6 on Tuesday, but it’s hard to imagine that he was rattled at that point. Both Crawford and Ilya Bryzgalov kept their teams in tonight’s game (at least as of this writing) with some big saves.
Sometimes those big saves came in the same sequence. Watch as Bryzgalov turns aside a breakaway chance for Patrick Sharp and then Crawford does the same against Justin Fontaine:
Earlier in the evening, we brought you video of Patrick Sharp beating Ilya Bryzgalov five-hole with a wrist shot – certainly not a good goal for the Minnesota Wild goalie to give up.
Well, we now bring you this Bryzgalov save on a Sharp breakaway in the second period, as the Wild’s puck stopper threw out the right pad to deny the Blackhawks’ forward, maintaining Minnesota’s 3-2 lead at the time.
The Minnesota Wild appeared in good shape late in the first period, up by a goal on the Chicago Blackhawks.
That was until Patrick Sharp beat Ilya Bryzgalov through the legs with a wrist shot from near the bottom of the faceoff circle, tying Game 4 at a goal apiece with only 39 seconds remaining in the first period. It was only one of four Chicago shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes.
The Wild trail 2-1 in the series. Bryzgalov earned the shutout in Game 3. It was his first since 2006.
Now, in the interest of fairness, here is a video of the Wild’s second goal, courtesy of Jason Pominville, who, from behind the net, fired the puck off the skates of Corey Crawford and in. Minnesota took a 2-1 lead as a result.
Ilya Bryzgalov isn’t the man the Minnesota Wild had planned on using as their starting goaltender in the playoffs. They’ve gone with him in the second round against Chicago because netminders Darcy Kuemper, Niklas Backstrom, and Josh Harding have all been hurt.
He’s had some rough outings in the playoffs too, but Wild coach Mike Yeo has stood by him.
“After Game 2 (three goals on 21 shots), there were a lot of questions, (but) we believed in Bryz,” Yeo said, per the Calgary Sun. “We knew what he was capable of, but the questions start to grow in numbers and the attention towards that continues to grow.”
He rewarded Minnesota with a 19-save shutout on Tuesday. It’s something for him to build off of and the Wild to rally around.
“He didn’t get tested a lot last game, but when he did, he made some really big saves,” Wild forward Zach Parise said. “I know he made a big one on (Jonathan) Toews in the third period that could have changed the game around. You need those saves right now.”
Minnesota just has to hope that Bryzgalov’s got another solid performance ahead of him because unless something changes, he’s all they’ve got.
While Ilya Bryzgalov’s individual stats continue to look paltry on paper, many believe that he wasn’t at fault for many (if any) of the goals he’s allowed through two losses against the Chicago Blackhawks. Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo shares that sentiment … or at least he realizes that he doesn’t have much of a choice but to support Bryzgalov.
Following Sunday’s 4-1 Game 2 loss, Yeo emphatically named Bryzgalov as Minnesota’s Game 3 starter. In fact, he said that discussing it is basically a waste of time in general, as NHL.com reports.
“He’s in the net,” Yeo said. “We got to find a way to get a win and that’s all of us. That’s him, but our team too and I’m not going to sit around and wait for another option, for someone else to come in. This is the guy, so let’s quit even talking about it. We shouldn’t even be talking about who is backing up. [Bryzgalov] is the guy right now and so we have to find a way as a team and as a staff to get a win.”
As this post indicates, one way to get back into the series would be to find away for the big trio of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter to break free.
Whatever the case may be, it’s up to Yeo to find the answers and Bryzgalov & Co. to rise to the occasion to avoid a swift exit against the Blackhawks.
At least Yeo is doing whatever he can to avoid the distraction of a goalie controversy. Then again, the Wild are probably accustomed to unrest considering their luck with netminders this season.
Here’s video of Yeo’s press conference: