Ilya Bryzgalov

Eakins wants Bryzgalov to watch his body language


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:

Bryzgalov grabs Oilers a point, but Flyers win in shootout


Ilya Bryzgalov kept the Edmonton Oilers in the game on Saturday, but he couldn’t beat his old team, as the Philadelphia Flyers managed a 4-3 shootout win.

(The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi points out that shootouts haven’t been a strong point for Bryzgalov, so some might find this fitting.)

The Oilers didn’t play coy about Bryzgalov salvaging a point from the game.

“We were basically hanging on by a thread in the second period,” Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins said. “I thought Bryz held us in the game.”

“He got us a point tonight,” Jordan Eberle said of Bryzgalov, according to Carchidi.

The 33-year-old stopped 35 out of 38 shots while Steve Mason got the win despite only making 13 out of 16 saves. Edmonton saw a two-game winning streak end while Philly is now on a two-game winning streak of its own.

Rather than blaming a netminder under the microscope, the Oilers can blame being out-played, giving up a 2-0 lead and failing on the penalty kill.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall gave Edmonton that 2-0 cushion, but two Wayne Simmonds power-play goals tied it up in the second period. The two teams then traded another power-play tally each to send it into overtime.

Ultimately, the game got to the shootout, with the Flyers scoring twice and Edmonton beating Mason once. Barring a wildly unlikely Stanley Cup Final or a trade, Breezy won’t face Philly again this season.

At least he made it count, though, even if he didn’t win.

Bryzgalov tapped for Philadelphia reunion

EDMONTON, AB - DECEMBER 23: Ilya Bryzgalov #80 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Winnipeg Jets during an NHL game at Rexall Place on December 23, 2013 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

He hasn’t exactly stunned the hockey world with his recent play, but Ilya Bryzgalov has managed to re-establish himself in Edmonton after two roller coaster years with Philadelphia. That’s been overshadowed by the Oilers’ overall struggles, but he’ll be the center of attention on Saturday as Edmonton has confirmed that he’ll start against the Flyers for the first time since he was bought out.

Bryzgalov has tried to put his chapter in Philadelphia behind him and when the subject came up today, he couldn’t have done much more to dodge questions about the match up:

At the same time, this can’t be just another game. There was no shortage of strife between him and the Flyers organization. Plus, even by the standards of a buyout, his ended up being particularly messy with his agent, Ritch Winter blasted the Flyers’ defensive system after his client was called a “costly mistake.”

“It’s terrible for goaltenders in Philadelphia,” Winter insisted.

Well, now Bryzgalov will try his luck at the other end of the ice in a Flyers’ game.

“It’s going to be weird,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

It’s going to be interesting at the very least.


PHT’s top 13 of ’13: Flyers buy out Bryzgalov

PHT’s top 13 of ’13: Flyers buy out Bryzgalov

Ilya Bryzgalov

After falling just shy of winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, the Philadelphia Flyers were swept in the second round of the 2011 playoffs.

At that point, the Flyers thought they were one good goaltender short of a parade. Sergei Bobrovsky had been solid in his rookie campaign, but the inexperienced netminder struggled in his first playoff run and the organization wasn’t prepared to take a chance with him leading the charge again.

Instead, they dealt forwards Jeff Carter and Mike Richards in separate trades to free up the cap space necessary to sign Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million contract in June 2011.

“He does give us stability,” Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said at the time, per

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

Instead, what the Flyers got was one of the most remarkable blunders in recent history. Bryzgalov wasn’t always bad, but never justified his paycheck. Despite that, it was stunning to see the plug being pulled on the experiment after just two seasons as Holmgren called Bryzgalov a “costly mistake” after buying him out.

Part of Holmgren’s motivation might have come from Bryzgalov’s interviews as much as his struggles on the ice. After just one campaign, the Flyers GM had already complained that his goaltender shouldn’t act like he was on Comedy Central.

In that vein of not taking things seriously, Bryzgalov also reportedly fell asleep during a team meeting, took issue with the Philadelphia media during an interview and had some problems with the Russian media as well.

When he was bought out, Bryzgalov did thank the Flyers, but his agent Ritch Winter blasted the team’s defensive system and claimed it was “terrible for goaltenders in Philadelphia.”

Goaltender Steve Mason might disagree with that. He’s just one of the many players that has been positively impacted, some more bizarrely than others, by Bryzgalov’s move to Philadelphia. In the end, perhaps that’s the weirdest part of this story.

Carter and Richards obviously won the Stanley Cup within a year of getting traded, but they weren’t the only ones that could be called winners in all of this.

Bobrovsky was dealt eventually too because of Bryzgalov’s presence and he went on to win the Vezina Trophy. His rise combined with Bryzgalov’s ongoing struggles in Philadelphia, led to Mason finally getting a change of scenery that has, for the most part, been a plus for him.

You could even say it helped Mike Smith as he got a golden opportunity with the Coyotes after Bryzgalov snubbed them in favor of Philadelphia. Smith took full advantage of that opportunity and that led to him getting a six-year, $34 million contract.

In the end, it’s hard to even call Bryzgalov a loser in all of this because, while he obviously had different expectations in mind when he left the small market Phoenix Coyotes in pursuit of the Stanley Cup, he’s still going to make roughly $1.6 million annually through 2026-27.

So the only obvious losers in all of this were the Flyers, for two reasons: 1) they’ll be writing checks for over a decade to a goaltender they barely got any use out of and no longer want anything to do with, and 2) he completely failed provide the stability that Holmgren sought.

As such, Philadelphia’s quest for its first Cup since 1975 goes on.