Ilya Bryzgalov’s conditioning stint in the AHL featured one terrible, rusty game and a second game in which he saved 25 of 26 shots. On Sunday, the Edmonton Oilers called up the cosmonaut to join Devan Dubnyk as the team’s netminders.
In two games, Bryzgalov stopped 44 of 50 shots with a 1-1-0 record, 3.03 goals-against average and .880 save percentage as the Barons played the Abbotsford Heat.
“He looked a lot more calm in net. More composed,” said coach Todd Nelson after the second game. “He made some big saves. Made it look easy. I think he’s on the right path.”
This recall sets up a rather intriguing scenario: The Oilers host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, which means a Bryzgalov start vs. his former Philadelphia Flyers understudy Sergei Bobrovsky, who was traded away to make Bryzgalov the undisputed starter in 2012.
Bobrovsky went on to receive the Vezina Trophy; Bryzgalov went on to receive a buy out that will pay him $23 million not to play for the Flyers.
It’ll be interesting to see what Bryz gives the Oil. His best years were spent in a defensive system in Phoenix (with Sean Burke as his goaltending coach), or on a defense anchored by Scott Niedermayer in Anaheim.
BREAKING NEWS: The Oilers have neither of those things.
Edmonton gives up 31 shots per game, which ranks among the highest in the league. Their penalty kill is at 81.7 percent, for No. 19 in the NHL.
What difference can Bryz make on a team that, inherently, can’t seen to defend well enough to win? Is he an upgrade over Dubnyk? When we eventually get into that part of the season when Bryz is a better quote than he is a goalie, then what?
It’s a worthy gamble for the Oilers. And we’ll begin to see if it pays off this week.