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.

Goalie nods: Bryzgalov back in, Luongo looks to ‘exorcise that demon’

Ilya Bryzgalov

News and notes from around the crease…

Bryzgalov goes again

Ilya Bryzgalov will get his second start coming off an injury when he takes on the Kings in Los Angeles tonight.

Bryzgalov, 33, returned to action on Sunday against Anaheim and stopped 31 of 34 shots in a 3-2 loss. The Russian netminder had been sidelined after getting bowled over against Dallas on Dec. 1.

Bryzgalov has very good numbers on the year — a 2.35 GAA and .932 save percentage — but is still looking for a few more wins, as has he has just one (a 3-0 victory over Nashville) thus far.

Martin Jones, the NHL’s reigning third star of the week, will get the nod for L.A.

Luongo starts at Xcel

History to be damned, says Canucks head coach John Tortorella. Roberto Luongo is starting tonight in Minnesota.

For more, here’s Mike Russo of the Star-Tribune:

Luongo gets the start for the Canuckleheads. He is 3-9-2 with a 3.56 goals-against average and .873 save percentage at the X, and that includes a 0-0 tie in his first-ever start at the X with Florida in 2000. Luongo has been pulled in his past three starts here and has just had such struggles here that former Van. coach Alain Vigneault didn’t play him in Minnesota since Oct. 19, 2010. Luongo joked yesterday to ask AV if he was playing.

“He’s going to exorcise that demon, I guess, if that’s what everybody thinks this is,” Canucks coach John Tortorella said. “He’s a pro. He needs to play.”

Josh Harding will start for the Wild.


Flames at Bruins: Reto Berra vs. Tuukka Rask

Jets at Sabres: Ondrej Pavelec vs. Ryan Miller

Panthers at Leafs: Scott Clemmensen vs. Jonathan Bernier (likely)

Lightning at Islanders: Ben Bishop vs. Evgeni Nabokov

Capitals at Flyers: Braden Holtby vs. Steve Mason

Ducks at Red Wings: Jonas Hiller vs. Jonas Gustavsson

Coyotes at Canadiens: Carey Price in for Habs. No word yet on who Phoenix will start.

Sharks at Blues: Antti Niemi vs. Jaroslav Halak

Blackhawks at Preds: Antti Raanta vs. Carter Hutton

Avs at Stars: Jean-Sebastien Giguere will go for Colorado. No word on a Dallas starter yet.

Ducks spoil Bryzgalov’s return, win fifth in a row


Ilya Bryzgalov returned to action on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to get the Edmonton Oilers back on a winning track or end the Anaheim Ducks’ surge. The Ducks won their fifth in a row by beating the Oilers 3-2 tonight.

Even so, it wasn’t all bad for Bryzgalov or his team.

“There were lots of positives for us tonight,” Bryzgalov said. “It’s unfortunate we weren’t able to get a win.”

Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins agrees.

“I can’t find a lot wrong with our game tonight. I thought our guys played excellent right to the end,” Eakins said. “It’s one of those nights where you feel like you deserved a point, if not both.”

They didn’t get a point for their third consecutive game, however.

The contest wasn’t without incident, as defenseman Corey Potter received a match penalty for checking Nick Bonino from behind. Here’s a GIF of the hit, via Prime Ticket by way of The Score:


The Ducks are keeping within a stride of first place, as they’re just one win shy of tying the Chicago Blackhawks.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Oilers remain the third worst team in the NHL and the worst in the West.