Tag: Ilya Bryzgalov

Wild Blackhawks Hockey

Bryzgalov remains ‘the guy’ in net for Wild heading into Game 3


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:

Blackhawks take 2-0 series lead against Wild after pulling away in third period

Jonathan Toews

Much like Game 1, the contest was quite a bit closer than the final score might indicate,* but the bottom line is that the Chicago Blackhawks now have a 2-0 series lead against the Minnesota Wild after winning Game 2 by a 4-1 mark on Sunday.

Closer than it appears?

It’s easy to see that the Blackhawks are hot right now. Stretching back to their first-round battle against the St. Louis Blues, they’ve now won six consecutive playoff games.

It’s also a special win for head coach Joel Quenneville, for those counting:

The good news for the Wild is that they’ve been here before. The Colorado Avalanche took a 2-0 series lead against them in round one only to see Minnesota advance after seven games (which included an overtime battle in that decisive game). While the first two games against Colorado were often out of control for Minnesota, these first two losses were tighter until the Blackhawks pulled away in the third period of each game.

The shot totals probably tell the story best: Minnesota limited Chicago to 22 shots on goal in both games.

Not easy for Breezy

For all the good that comes out of those observations, the bottom line is that the Wild have been outscored by a combined score of 9-3 through these first two games.

Fair or not, one must wonder if Minnesota can put much trust in Ilya Bryzgalov. The Russian-born goalie has lost four of five games in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs and his lone win came in just 13:15 of game time (from Game 7 after Darcy Kuemper left with an injury). His individual numbers haven’t been very strong, either, so it’s not just a matter of the team in front of him.

It’s probably true that Bryzgalov isn’t the only problem for Minnesota, yet they might just need him to carry them at times. (The goals often haven’t been Breezy’s fault, but his prospects as an unrestricted free agent seem to dip with each start.)

Bickell heats up

While Patrick Kane understandably grabbed the spotlight in Chicago’s Game 1 win, it’s worth noting that the Bryan Bickell – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa line is on fire for the ‘Hawks.

Toews scored the first goal for Chicago, Bickell collected two assists and added a goal in the third period (after clanging the iron on his previous shift) and Hossa had three helpers in Game 2. It’s little surprise that Toews and Hossa are looking strong, but Bickell seems to be on track for a playoff breakthrough for the second straight year. After only managing 15 points in 59 games in the regular season, Bickell has eight playoff points (all in a four-game streak).

If this trio can keep it going, it will be highly difficult for any team to slow Chicago down.

* – In the case of Game 1, it was 5-2.

Video: Hossa can’t finish breakaway, but Toews does

Toews goal

For the second straight game, the Blackhawks struck first against the Minnesota Wild.

Bryan Bickell won a battle for the puck in Chicago’s zone and pulled off a long pass to Marian Hossa, who hung back from the play to facilitate the breakaway. Hossa had a great opportunity to beat Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, but he wasn’t able to get the puck in the back of the net.

Instead, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews outskated Wild captain Mikko Koivu though to collect the rebound and score before Bryzgalov had a chance to recover from his efforts against Hossa.

You can watch Game 2’s opening goal below:

Chicago held Minnesota to just two shots on goal in the first period after the Wild outshot them 32-22 in the series opener.