Ilya Bryzgalov Shows Shades of 'Himself' in Oilers Win Over Sabres

By evanleblanc
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The always interesting Ilya Bryzgalov was excellent in goal for the Edmonton Oilers tonight, making 42 saves and helping them to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

Bryzgalov, who many thought may never return to this league again, is starting to improve his play. Though he is not the beneficiary of good defense around him, he is still responsible for some head-scratching goals so far this season. I hope that he can begin to turn things around and improve upon his 3.15 GAA and .907 save percentage, both of which are noticably below the league average.

He brought back some memories with his steady play tonight, turning aside shots and playing confidently outside his crease. At this point in his career, he is looking to prove that his time with the Phoenix Coyotes was not a fluke, and that his days with the Philadelphia Flyers were due to the unseen curse that seems to plague almost every goalie that plays there (although Steve Mason looks better than they have seen in a while…).

Bryzgalov seems determined to get his career back on track, and the Oilers are giving him the opportunity to do so. Unfortunately for him, his best has not made him better than the league average, and he needs to be more convincing in goal to be able to stay in the conversation as a No. 1 goalie.

Ben Scrivens has been very good in his first three starts. However, most of his experience is as a backup, and though he is improving, I still think that Bryzgalov is the more talented goalie. I think that he might need to get back to whatever he was doing earlier in his career in Phoenix, and he will be able to beat out Scrivens for the job.

He would surprise a great number of people if he were able to do so. There are many who have come to believe that he is no longer an NHL-caliber goalie.

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