When the Edmonton Oilers signed veteran netminder Ilya Bryzgalov to a one-year contract, there’s no denying they were hoping to see the Bryzgalov who starred as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes and not the player who had a disastrous tenure as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s definitely been a case of so far so good for the 33-year old as he posted a shutout in his first start as a member of the Oilers. Bryzgalov turned aside all 33 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Nashville Predators.
Edmonton received second period goals less than a minute apart from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall to break open a tight-affair and rode Bryzgalov’s fine play between the pipes to just their eighth victory of the season. Bryzgalov made his Oiler debut in relief of Devan Dubnyk in a 5-1 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks.
When Bryzgalov was signed general manager Craig MacTavish said they were getting a motivated player. He cited the veteran as a goalie who had exhibited high-end play at times during his NHL career. The move was basically one that did no harm because the price tag was very reasonable and the team hadn’t been getting the type of goaltending they had been hoping for from the combination of Dubnyk and Jason LaBarbera. Dubnyk has actually raised his level of play recently, including having been named one of the NHL’s Stars of the Week, before having a tough outing against the Hawks.
Head coach Dallas Eakins has to be feeling pretty good about having both of his goaltenders posting shutouts in the last handful of games. It’s an area that had been a sore spot for a good bulk of this season. All Bryzgalov has asked for is to be judged by his performance in getting this fresh start and not to be grilled about the past. While it’s not a very large sampling, Bryzgalov’s early returns have been very positive.
Rick LaFitte is an NHL Writer for Rant Sports