Sunday, March 30, 2014

Time To Roll With Bryzgalov

Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images
Darcy Kuemper, you have done an outstanding job getting the Wild this far. At the age of 23. you showed great skill and poise as the number one goaltender for the Minnesota Wild since early January. You basically carrying the Wild on your back through January and February will not be long forgotten when we come to the end of the regular season.

But as we move to the final seven games, the best place for you, is serving as backup to Ilya Bryzgalov.

Since the Wild acquired Bryzgalov on March 4th, the veteran netminder has gone 3-0-3 with a 2.19 GAA and a .910 save percentage. If you take a closer look at the numbers, and you find Bryz to have been a victim of a bad Wild penalty kill, as he boasts an impressive .943 five on five save percentage in the six games he has played. Its a small sample size, but still rather impressive considering how Bryz has played in the past couple of years.

Take last night's game for example. Had it not been for a bad bounce off of Matt Cooke, Bryz notches a shutout for the Wild in a must win game against a team breathing down their neck in the Wild Card race. He made some rather remarkable saves along the way, to keep the Wild down 1-0 in the first two frames, giving them a chance to comeback in the third period (which they did, thanks to three third period goals to ice the Coyotes).

Before the game against Phoenix, Bryz got the win for the Wild against Detroit, shutout the Islanders, and took the Blues to a shootout. He has brought his best to Minnesota since being acquired from Edmonton four weeks ago, and he now should be rewarded for it.

His playoff past does not overly favor his case here (his last three postseason years, his save percentage are .906, .879, and .887), but given the Wild's goaltending situation, you really have nowhere else to turn (Manny Fernandez and Dwayne Roloson are available).

At this time of year, you need to have good goaltending to win crucial games. Bryz has given the Wild just that, and there should be no reason the team should not go to him again in Los Angeles tomorrow.

Its a frightening thought, but the Wild need to roll with Bryzgalov. He gives them the best chance to win. And this is a team that badly needs wins.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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