Minnesota Wild v New York Islanders

Bryzgalov gets second straight start for Wild

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Ilya Bryzgalov will be back in Minnesota’s net tonight in New Jersey, two days after shutting out the Islanders, 6-0.

“When a goalie has a shutout we like to come back with him,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said, per NHL.com. “I just thought he was very good in that game, especially early in the game. All game long he had a very calming presence in the net and he looked big. We want to give him a chance to get back at it and see if he can continue that.”

Bryzgalov stopped all 36 shots he faced in New York, upping his save percentage to a respectable .913. If he continues to play well, it’s possible he sees action in the playoffs, though rookie Darcy Kuemper probably remains the current favorite to start.

Bryzgalov was traded to Minnesota from Edmonton prior to the deadline. In two appearances for the Wild, he’s allowed just two goals on 58 shots.

Bryzgalov will indeed debut for Wild on Sunday

Phoenix Coyotes v Edmonton Oilers
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Ilya Bryzgalov already made an impact in Minnesota, but he hasn’t played for the Wild yet. That will change on Sunday, as he’ll debut for his new team against the red-hot St. Louis Blues.

The Blues take their 17-0-1 record against Central Division teams into Sunday’s game, but they’ll give Ryan Miller a breather after their new No.1 rattled off four straight wins. Brian Elliott gets a chance to prove that he can at least spell Miller here and there if he can get this win.

Bryzgalov, 33, experienced ups and downs in his 20 games with the Edmonton Oilers, going 5-8-5 with a .908 save percentage and 3.01 GAA. Much like Tim Thomas in Dallas, those highs and lows with a team failing to contend don’t mean nearly as much as what he may do for a team battling for positioning.

It’s a crowded situation in the Wild net, so Bryzgalov has a lot to prove beginning tonight.

Bryzgalov didn’t make good first impression with one Minnesota columnist

Ilya Bryzgalov - Epic - 24-7
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Here’s a rather curious piece from Jim Souhan of the Minnesota Star-Tribune, in response to Ilya Bryzgalov’s first practice and media session as a member of the Wild:

Trading a fourth-round pick for a veteran backup goalie isn’t a problem, especially when the economy of that move enabled the addition of a quality player such as [Matt] Moulson. The problem is that this particular veteran backup goalie doesn’t appear to be someone you would entrust with your season.

[Wild GM Chuck] Fletcher knew Bryzgalov when they were together in Anaheim. That was a decade ago, before Bryzgalov’s career was defined by his massive contract, goofy quotes and horrid play in Philadelphia.

Bryzgalov whined a lot in Philly, when he wasn’t musing on the insignificance of human life in the cosmos. Thursday, he participated in his first practice with the Wild, then stood in front of the Wild-logo background for one of those obligatory and awkward introductory sessions with the local media.

We wanted him to be funny, or at least passionate about joining a likely playoff team. Bryzgalov, perhaps feeling burned for being more famous for deep thoughts than deep playoff runs, refused to turn on the charm.

Souhan didn’t like Bryzgalov’s response to a question asking what the last 24 hours had been like — to which Bryzgalov sort-of flippantly replied “you want minute by minute?’’

For further context, watch this video (Bryz segment starts at :45)

Having seen a few Bryzgalov scrums in the post-Philly era, this doesn’t strike me as anything out of the ordinary — it’s pretty much how Bryzgalov responded in every scrum as an Oiler. His days as a quote machine seem long gone, but he still answers questions like any run-of-the-mill NHLer would.

Souhan’s bigger issue, it seems, is that the Wild may be forced to rely on Bryzgalov as more than a backup goalie. With Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding essentially done for the year, the No. 1 gig is Darcy Kuemper’s to lose… and, given he’s only 23 years old with 24 games of NHL experience, it’s possible he’s not ready to shoulder the load.

Especially come playoff time.

Bryzgalov trade leaves Oilers with university back-up goalie

Goldnen Bears
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The Oilers traded Ilya Bryzgalov today, and the goalie they acquired from Anaheim, Viktor Fasth, can’t make it to Edmonton in time for tonight’s game versus the Senators. So Ben Scrivens will have a new back-up tonight.

From the club:

The Edmonton Oilers announced that University of Alberta Golden Bears netminder Kurtis Mucha will dress as the back-up goaltender for the Oilers tonight, as they take on the Ottawa Senators at Rexall Place.

The Sherwood Park, Alberta native is doing his second tour of duty with an NHL team, after he filled in for the Boston Bruins during their practice in Edmonton earlier this season.

The 2013 CIS Goaltender of the Year has had another strong season between the pipes for the No.1 ranked team in the nation. He was named a Canada West Second Team All-Star on Tuesday after a regular season in which he recorded a 14-1-1 record, as well as the second-best goals against average (1.87) in the country. He also recorded three shutouts and a .909 save percentage this season.

Oilers shuffle goalies (again): Bryzgalov traded to Minny, Fasth to Edmonton

Ilya Bryzgalov
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The Edmonton Oilers have traded goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to Minnesota for a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft.

Bryzgalov is a pending unrestricted free agent with a .908 save percentage in 20 appearances this season. The 33-year-old was signed as a free agent in November, in what was seen at the time as a desperation move by the Oilers.

Meanwhile, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register was the first to report that the Oilers have acquired goalie Viktor Fasth from the Ducks, apparently for a fifth-rounder in 2014 and a third in 2015.

Fasth was a revelation early last season, but has struggled in limited appearances for Anaheim this season. The 31-year-old is signed through next season for a cap hit of $2.9 million, after which he can become an unrestricted free agent.

The Oilers also signed goalie Ben Scrivens to a two-year contract extension yesterday.

For Anaheim, the Fasth trade makes sense if they intend to re-sign their pending UFA netminder Jonas Hiller. And even if they don’t, they have young goalies Frederik Andersen and John Gibson in the system.

For Minnesota, Bryzgalov gives them insurance, and possibly even a starter, for the playoffs. Darcy Kuemper has played well of late, but is still inexperienced. Niklas Backstrom has struggled with inconsistency and injuries, and Josh Harding has been forced to deal with complications from MS.