Pack Attack: Ilya Bryzgalov

Since Ilya Kovalchuk has been dominating the hockey talk for most of the summer so far I felt it was time to take a look at Coyotes starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. 

Before being drafted by the then Mighty Ducks of Anaheim Bryzgalov played in his native Russia for both the Russian Supreme League and the Russian Superleague. At the 2000 NHL Draft he was selected by Anaheim 44th overall; and moved to North America to play the 2000-01 season for the AHL affiliate Cincinnati Mighty Ducks. His first North American season saw 45 games played with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks going 20-16-4 with a .916 save percentage; and one with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim with a .917 save percentage and a 1.88 goals against average.

Over the next few seasons Bryzgalov continued to play in the American Hockey League due to the Mighty Ducks goaltending depth of having Jean-Sebastien Giguere as their starting goaltender. After the lockout Gerber did not return to Anaheim giving Bryzgalov the chance to take a roster spot for the 2005-06 season playing in 31 games. His rookie campaign saw a 13 wins 12 losses and 1 over time loss while maintaining a .910 save percentage and only allowing 66 goals though out the regular season. That post season Giguere was injured in the first game of the first round play off series with the Calgary Flames. Bryzgalov relieved him but ultimately lost the game in overtime. Giguere came back to play for the Mighty Ducks until game five when once again Bryzgalov relieved Giguere in game 5 of the series making him the starter in games 6 and 7, winning both games (including an impressive shutout in game 7 that started a three game shutout streak) the Mighty Ducks moved on to the second round of the 2006 playoffs against the Colorado Avalanche. It was not until the third round that Bryzgalov began to struggle, at which point Giguere took over in net, the Mighty Ducks eventually lost to the Edmonton Oilers in five games.

After an impressive showing for a rookie net minder he continued to play as a back up to Giguere in the newly renamed Ducks; however, he and Head Coach Randy Carlyle didn’t seem to see eye-to-eye as Bryzgalov admitted to feeling as though the coach had no confidence in him. Playing in few games that regular season he started the first four games of the playoffs but was not seen again until the Western Conference finals against the Detroit Red Wings, then remained on the bench for the Stanley Cup Finals series against the Ottawa Senators. Bryzgalov and the Ducks went on to win the 2007 Stanley Cup, a first for not only Bryzgalov but also for the Ducks franchise.

The championship was bitter sweet for Bryzgalov as the Ducks re-signed starting goaltender Giguere and then acquired a young Jonas Hiller from Switzerland, leaving Bryzgalov without a spot on the team. After playing in only 9 games for the Ducks in the 2007-08 season the Ducks placed him on waiver where he was claimed by the Phoenix Coyotes.

In his first appearance for the Coyotes he posted his third regular season shutout as the Coyotes beat the Los Angeles Kings earning him a three year contract extension to remain in Phoenix until the end of the 2010-11 season worth over 12 million dollars, making him a $4,250,000 cap hit for each of the three season.

Playing in an NHL career high 55 games with the Coyotes after being claimed off of waiver he cemented himself as the starting goaltender for the franchise. Each year he has played in more games than the last. In the 2009-10 season he was saw ice time in 69 regular season games earning a 42-20-6 record with a .920 save percentage and a 2.29 goals against average leading the Coyotes to their first play off appearance since the NHL lockout. Starting in all 7 games in the first round he maintained a .906 save percentage though they were eventually defeated by the Detroit Red Wings. 

2010 Winter Olympics (all images from Yardbarker)

Along with this professional career Ilya Bryzgalov has been active with the Russian National Team making his first appearance with the team in the 2000 World Junior Championship he played in 4 games and earned a silver medal. Later that same year he found himself on the Russian World Championship team which had a completely different outcome as the Russian Team left the tournament in 11th place. In 2002 he landed a backup spot for the Russian Olympic Team and took home a bronze medal. His only gold international medal came in the 2009 World Championship where he played in all seven games. Most recently he was a member of the Russian Team at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics where the highly regarded Russian Team was comprised of players: Alex Ovechkin, Sergei Fedorov, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin along with other high quality players washed out of the tournament with a sixth place finish

Topics: 2000 NHL Entry Draft, 2010 Winter Olympics, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Goalie, Goaltending, Ilya Bryzgalov, Ilya Kovalchuk, Mighty Ducks Of Anaheim, Ottawa Senators, Phoenix Coyotes, Russia, Team Russia

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