Tag: Ilya Bryzgalov


Harding resumes skating, ‘in a much better place right now’


Good sight on the Xcel Energy Center ice today as Wild goalie Josh Harding skated for the first time since January.

“I had heard how much better he was doing and when I got a chance to talk to him this morning, you could see it,” Wild head coach Mike Yeo said, per the Star Tribune. “You could see it in his face, you could see the relief. You could just see he’s in a much better place right now.

“I think it’s great. It’s great to have him around. The next step is getting him on the ice and talk more about what the plan is. We haven’t discussed that.”

Harding hasn’t played since Dec. 31 after undergoing a change in treatment protocol for multiple sclerosis — he practiced briefly in January but left the team soon after because he wasn’t feeling well. All told, Harding has missed the last 22 games and with him and Niklas Backstrom out of action, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher went out and acquired Ilya Bryzgalov from Edmonton at the deadline.

Unofficially, Minnesota has all but ruled out a Harding return this season. The 29-year-old had been the club’s MVP through the first half of the season, posting an 18-7-3 record with a 1.65 GAA and .933 save percentage.

Rookie Darcy Kuemper is now handling the Wild’s starting duties.

Blues finish night on top of NHL standings after shootout win

St. Louis Blues v Minnesota Wild

The St. Louis Blues rested Ryan Miller, but they didn’t fall back from their frantic pace, as a 3-2 shootout win against the Minnesota Wild leaves them atop the Central Division, Western Conference and overall NHL standings as of Sunday night.

Miller, Brian Elliott, the Blues are rattling off some impressive streaks in the process, as NHL.com’s Lou Korac and others note:

  • Ken Hitchcock is now alone at seventh place all-time in coaching wins with 649, breaking a tie with Ron Wilson.
  • Elliott is now 6-0-0 against the Wild while the Blues have beaten Minnesota eight times in a row.
  • This one you might already know: St. Louis is an incredible 18-0-1 against very good Central Division opponents.

Beyond Elliott, T.J. Oshie had a nice night. He scored this goal:

… And also helped the Blues end Ilya Bryzgalov’s Wild debut in defeat via (you guessed it) the shootout.

(Yup, “Mr. Shootout” seems pretty fair.)

Here’s an updated look at the Western Conference playoff picture after wins for the Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings:


In case you’re wondering, the Boston Bruins’ Sunday win leaves them atop the East side with 89 points.

Bryzgalov will indeed debut for Wild on Sunday

Phoenix Coyotes v Edmonton Oilers

Ilya Bryzgalov already made an impact in Minnesota, but he hasn’t played for the Wild yet. That will change on Sunday, as he’ll debut for his new team against the red-hot St. Louis Blues.

The Blues take their 17-0-1 record against Central Division teams into Sunday’s game, but they’ll give Ryan Miller a breather after their new No.1 rattled off four straight wins. Brian Elliott gets a chance to prove that he can at least spell Miller here and there if he can get this win.

Bryzgalov, 33, experienced ups and downs in his 20 games with the Edmonton Oilers, going 5-8-5 with a .908 save percentage and 3.01 GAA. Much like Tim Thomas in Dallas, those highs and lows with a team failing to contend don’t mean nearly as much as what he may do for a team battling for positioning.

It’s a crowded situation in the Wild net, so Bryzgalov has a lot to prove beginning tonight.

Gold medal goalie Shannon Szabados signs with men’s pro team

Canadian Olympic women's team goalie Shannon Szabados practices with the Edmonton Oilers NHL hockey team in Edmonton, Alberta, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jason Franson)

After leading Team Canada to a gold medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics, goalie Shannon Szabados is looking to continue her hockey career with the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League.

Szabados, who will become the first woman to play in the league, had a 0.96 GAA and .954 save percentage for Canada in the Olympics and played in the gold medal game against the United States.

“I am very excited to get a world-class athlete that has competed and has faced high-pressured situations,” Columbus coach Jerome Bechard said, per the NHL.com. “Shannon has won at every level she has played, in women’s hockey or men’s hockey.”

Szabados, 27, has excelled in other men’s leagues and actually played with three members of the Cottonmouths last season when she led the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology to a championship. She was also the first woman to play in the Western Hockey League when she appeared in a game with the Tri-City Americans in 2002-03.

When the Edmonton Oilers were recently short a goaltender because they had traded away Ilya Bryzgalov and Viktor Fasth hadn’t arrived, they asked Szabados to practice with them.

“Maybe (we took it easy) the first couple of shots, then you find out that she’s good enough to handle it,” Oilers forward Taylor Hall told the Edmonton Sun. “She was good. She’s obviously not as big as some of the NHL goalies are now, but she can move around the net really well.

“She surprised me with a few of the saves she made. She easily held her own, it was fun to watch.”

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

Ilya Bryzgalov - Epic - 24-7

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.