Tag: Ilya Bryzgalov

Barret Jackman, Mikko Koivu

NHL on NBCSN: Streaking Wild look to finally beat Blues


NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Minnesota Wild host the St. Louis Blues at the Xcel Energy Center at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

The way things are shaping up, this could be a first round preview and if that’s the case, it might be good news for Minnesota.

St. Louis has the makeup of a serious Stanley Cup contender given its depth, great defense, and dominant goaltender in Ryan Miller. At the same time, the warning signs are there.

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The Blues have lost three straight games by a margin of 12-3 and that might be a case of problems catching up to them rather than just an ordinary slump. Since Jan. 10, the Blues have averaged just 2.25 games per contest, which puts them in the bottom five in the league over that span, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Listen to Blues coach Ken Hitchcock and it becomes clear that’s not the only concern.

“We’re giving up power play goals and we’re not doing the job on the special teams,” Hitchcock added to the Post-Dispatch. “That’s my concern now, our special teams aren’t helping us. … That game within the game is really concerning.”

The team has also been losing steam as games go on recently.

By comparison the Minnesota Wild have been great lately and a lot of that has to do with, oddly enough, Ilya Bryzgalov. He’s stepped up with a 1.78 GAA and .923 save percentage in 11 games with Minnesota, including three shutouts.

After his infamous stint with Philadelphia, the Wild feel confident with him between the pipes.

“(He was) very calm in the net, making a lot of very tough saves look easy, a lot of loose pucks that were either redirected or loose around the net that he was able to swallow up and control and give us a chance to settle things down,” Wild coach Mike Yeo told the Pioneer Press after Monday’s game against Winnipeg.

The Wild’s top players have also clicked lately, with Zach Parise (19 points in 21 games), Mikko Koivu (18 points in 19 games), and Jason Pominville (17 points in 21 games) leading the charge since the Olympic break. All three of them have more points since the Winter Games than any St. Louis Blues player over that span.

On top of that, the Wild have eight players with at least 10 points since the break while the Blues have just five.

None of this changes the fact that St. Louis has a commanding 52-20-7 record while Minnesota wasn’t able to do better than a Wild Card spot. It also can’t be ignored that St. Louis hasn’t lost to the Wild since Nov. 19, 2011.

So the Blues clearly enter this game as the favorites, but with these teams trending in different directions, they are also going into this as a squad that needs a morale-boosting performance.

West update: Avs creep on Blues, Stars add to wild card lead

Colorado Avalanche v Edmonton Oilers

For some time, it seemed like the Eastern Conference’s playoff races and seeding battles would be the most interesting as the 2013-14 regular season came to a close. As it turns out, this final week might be far juicier out West.

Let’s take a tour through an increasingly interesting situation in the competitive conference.

  • To begin, we’ll go with teams fighting for their playoff lives (rather than musical chairs for division/conference supremacy).
  • The Dallas Stars managed to take a shootout win against the Nashville Predators, eliminating the Preds from the postseason race in the process. The Stars slightly strengthened their hold on the West’s final wild card spot …
  •  … Because the Phoenix Coyotes could only manage a point against the Columbus Blue Jackets, ultimately surrendering in overtime on Tuesday. Phoenix isn’t totally collapsing as much as the Coyotes seem to be running out of gas; they’ve lost five games in a row but earned three points during that span.
  • Interestingly, the two teams will face the squads they rooted for tonight. Dallas takes on Columbus (and will trail the Blue Jackets 1-0 off the bat) in a game that was postponed to Wednesday. Meanwhile, Phoenix faces the Predators in Nashville on Thursday.
  • The Minnesota Wild went from clinching a spot in general to securing the top wild card spot by winning against the Boston Bruins in a shootout. Ilya Bryzgalov is on fire right now.
  • It’s not just the final West spots that are up for grabs in interesting ways thanks to the St. Louis Blues’ first three-game losing streak of the season.
  • The Colorado Avalanche’s win against the Edmonton Oilers leaves them only two points behind St. Louis for the Central Division crown (Blues 111, Colorado 109) and possibly the Western Conference’s top seed (idle Anaheim is at 110 points). All three teams have three games remaining this season, with Sunday’s season finale between the Ducks and the Avalanche suddenly holding even more interesting implications (at least potentially).
  • The idle San Jose Sharks aren’t out of the Pacific race, either. Ponder this: the runner-up in the Central race would face Chicago in the first round while the Pacific’s second-place team nets Los Angeles in an opening series. Yup, that’s plenty of motivation to finish strong.
  • (Especially if the top wild card team Minnesota stays as hot as they’ve been.)

That’s a lot of information to disseminate, so if you just want to do the math for yourself, here’s a look at the updated standings:



Goalie nods: Halak won’t face Blues, which raises eyebrows


News and notes from the blue paint…

Halak won’t face ex-mates

Jaroslav Halak won’t be in goal for Washington tonight when the Caps try to keep their playoff hopes alive against Halak’s ex-team, the St. Louis Blues.

The reason why Halak’s been passed over in favor of Braden Holtby, though, remains a mystery.

A piece on CSN Washington suggested Halak was keen to face his old club — “I played there four years, I know these guys,” he said. “Obviously, I’m looking forward to going back there,” — but in explaining his decision to start Holtby, Caps head coach Adam Oates suggested the Slovakian netminder actually asked out of the start:

Considering Halak’s been Washington’s goalie of record in 11 of the last 14 games, going with Holtby in tonight’s must-win situation is curious. That said, Holtby did snap the Caps’ five-game losing streak with a 4-3 shootout decision over the Islanders on Saturday.


Red Wings at Sabres: Jimmy Howard vs. Matthew Hackett

Sens at Isles: Craig Anderson vs. Anders Nilsson

‘Canes at Rangers: Cam Ward vs. Henrik Lundqvist

Coyotes at Blue Jackets: Thomas Greiss vs. Sergei Bobrovsky

Flyers at Panthers: Steve Mason vs. Roberto Luongo

Leafs at Lightning: James Reimer vs. Ben Bishop

Bruins at Wild: Tuukka Rask vs. Ilya Bryzgalov

Preds at Stars: Pekka Rinne vs. Kari Lehtonen

Avs at Oilers: J.S. Giguere vs. Ben Scrivens

Bryzgalov blanks Jets, brings Wild within point of clinching playoff spot

Minnesota Wild v Los Angeles Kings

The way things are going, a goaltending battle that could have been a tough call for the Minnesota Wild might be, well, a breeze.

The Wild are now just one point short of clinching a spot in the playoffs after beating the Winnipeg Jets 1-0 on Monday. The bigger story might just be the emergence of a guy serenaded by Jets fans: Ilya Bryzgalov.

(Don’t lie, you have to be at least half-excited to find out what kind of weird things he might say in the playoffs.)

Anyway, Bryzgalov continues to be a quick study in the Wild net, as he now has a two-game shutout streak going; the Russian-born netminder hasn’t allowed a goal in 142:15 of game time, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.

The 33-year-old is 6-0-3 with three shutouts, a .929 save percentage and 1.67 GAA with the Wild. (Not bad for a guy who went 5-8-5 with shaky numbers during his time in Edmonton.)

While the Wild may very well be finding answers in net, the Jets’ goaltending questions seem to go even deeper. Michael Hutchinson didn’t light the world on fire in a loss, yet he did stop 16 out of 17 shots against Minnesota.

As far as the Jets’ splashier bit of drama goes, Evander Kane seemed to get back into the groove, receiving more than 19 minutes of ice time after Sunday’s healthy scratch. Will that silence all questions going into an uncertain offseason? Probably not.

Bryzgalov likely knows where Kane is coming from when it comes to ups and downs along with media drama, even if each player may paint that picture differently.

Related: Could this be it for Bryzgalov?

Goalie nods: Ducks prospect Gibson to make NHL debut


News and notes from around the crease…

Gibson to debut

John Gibson, the Anaheim farmhand considered to be one of the NHL’s best young goaltending talents, will make his big-league debut tonight when the Ducks take on the Canucks in Vancouver.

Gibson, 20, will get the start after Jonas Hiller performed poorly in Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Edmonton (No. 2 Frederik Andersen is out with an upper-body injury). It promises to be an exciting time for both Gibson and the Ducks, as the club has high hopes for his future — the Pittsburgh native captured tournament MVP at the ’13 World Juniors, then performed equally well for the U.S. men’s team at the ’13 Worlds, backstopping the Americans to bronze while posting a 1.56 GAA and .951 save percentage.

Last May, Gibson’s goalie coach with OHL Kitchener said the then-19-year-old was “ready for the NHL right now.”

For the Canucks, Eddie Lack will start for the 19th straight time.


Flames at Devils: Karri Ramo vs. Cory Schneider

Wild at Jets: Ilya Bryzgalov vs. Michael Hutchinson (read more about Hutchinson and the Jets’ goaltending situation.)