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


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

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

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.

Eakins wants Bryzgalov to watch his body language

Ilya Bryzgalov

Ilya Bryzgalov has a long history of giving unusual quotes, to the point where it rubbed Flyers GM Paul Holmgren the wrong way long before he was bought out. That issue hasn’t come up since he moved to Edmonton, but lately his reactions to conceded goals is drawing some unwanted attention.

The first incident occurred during Saturday’s game when his former Flyers scored the game-tying goal late in the third period and tossed his stick in frustration:

He started again on Tuesday and this time surrendered the game-tying goal to Phoenix’s Mikkel Boedker with just 1:10 minutes left in the third period. That led to him throwing his arms up in frustration and glared at one of his defensemen:

“If you’re doing it at one of your teammates, that’s not a very good thing to do, because sooner or later you’re going to make a mistake and I’m fairly certain you’re not going to want your teammates doing that to you,” Eakins told the Edmonton Sun, although he added that he doesn’t want to assume that Bryzgalov was attempting to call anyone out.

Eakins talked to Bryzgalov after he tossed his stick in the Flyers’ game and told him that he’s good with a goaltender venting frustration like that a couple times a season, but he still needs to “watch (his) body language on the ice.”

Of course, we’re only talking about this because the Oilers allowed late, game-tying goals in back-to-back contests. If that didn’t happen, we wouldn’t be able to develop a pattern based on how Bryzgalov reacts in those situations.

Edmonton is last in the Western Conference with a 13-24-5 record.

Video: Bryzgalov downplays personal importance of Flyers’ rematch

Philadelphia Flyers' Sean Couturier (14) is stopped by Edmonton Oilers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov (80) during second period NHL hockey action in Edmonton, Alberta, on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jason Franson)

Ilya Bryzgalov’s first match against the Philadelphia Flyers since he was bought out didn’t end with a victory, but he was credited with keeping his Edmonton Oilers in the game long enough to earn a point.

Naturally, when it came time for the postgame interview, the reporters gathered were eager to ask him about how he felt about facing his old team.

“Thank you for the question,” Bryzgalov said before dismissing what the game meant to him by pointing out that he had previously played against former teams.

When it was pointed out that his situation with the Flyers was made unique by the fact that his nine-year contract was jettisoned after just two seasons, Bryzgalov just shrugged and said, “So?”

That reaction isn’t unique for him. While he’s known for some of his more colorful quotes, he has downplayed the importance of this issue to him in the past. Even before he was bought out, he was shrugging off the possibility.

“To be honest, I don’t care,” he said back in April. “Really, I don’t care. I have no control on this, so why should I care?”

You can view his complete postgame comments below: