ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Ilya Bryzgalov, like many other goalies, marches to a different drummer, Mighty Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said.
Does he ever.
After stopping 21 Calgary shots earlier this week in a 2-1 Game 6 victory that kept Anaheim alive in the opening playoffs, Bryzgalov explained how he handled the pressure.
“I wasn’t nervous. Definitely not. It’s hockey,” said the 25-year-old rookie from Togliatti, Russia. “Why am I supposed to be nervous? It’s a game.”
A game he certainly puts in an unusual perspective, mentioning among other things famine in Africa and Greek philosophers as influencing his views.
“If we lose, it’s not a reason to be grumpy because I know, for example, so many people in Africa who don’t have any food and die from disease,” Bryzgalov said Saturday. “So if you lose a game, it’s nothing compared to other people.
“I like history. I’ve been reading philosophy books for maybe five years. I like philosophy. It helps me in life. I find a couple of answers to my questions. I like ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates and Plato.”
Carlyle said Bryzgalov’s “emotions seem to be more along the lines of joy,” than nervousness.
The Ducks’ Teemu Selanne, who had a goal and two assists against his former Colorado teammates in the opener, said Bryzgalov is “very loose and obviously enjoying all this.”
He added with a grin, “We just have to make sure he knows what time to show up for games and practices.”
Bryzgalov’s philosophy on goaltending certainly seems to be paying off during the postseason. After blanking the Flames in the Ducks’ 3-0 win in Game 7 at Calgary on Wednesday night, he came back with a 5-0 shutout in Friday night’s Western Conference semifinals opener against Colorado.
So he will be going for his third consecutive shutout Sunday afternoon in Anaheim when the Ducks face the Avalanche in Game 2. He’s the first rookie with back-to-back shutouts in the postseason since Toronto’s Frank McCool had three straight in 1945.
The 6-foot-3, 208-pound Bryzgalov, who has supplanted 2003 playoffs MVP Jean-Sebastien Giguere as Anaheim’s No. 1 goalie, has allowed only three goals on 122 shots in the postseason, including his four games against Calgary.
That’s a league-best 0.63 goals-against average and .975 save percentage in this postseason. He 3-1 in the playoffs, his lone defeat a 2-1 overtime loss in Calgary in Game 1 when he played because Giguere was sidelined by a lower body injury.
Giguere returned, but was inconsistent and Carlyle eventually turned to Bryzgalov.
The Avalanche will try to solve Bryzgalov—and a lot of other issues— after being dominated in the first game.
“We need to play with more emotion. They went seven games (against Calgary) but they still had more energy than us,” said Colorado’s Ian Laperriere, alluding to the fact the Avalanche had eliminated Dallas on Sunday.
“We don’t have any excuses.”
Andrew Brunette, who left Friday night’s game in the second period after being leveled by Anaheim’s Francois Beauchemin and did not return, practiced with the Avalanche on Saturday and said he was fine.
“I was a little shaken up, but I feel good,” said Brunette, tied for his team’s playoff goal-scoring lead with three. “It was tough to watch (after he left the ice.) I think we’re all a little frustrated.”
Colorado coach Joel Quenneville obviously wants to see some fire in his team, summing up the opening loss: “It’s real simple hockey. They outmanned us in every area. We stood around.”