The Edmonton Oilers don’t play until Thursday when they travel to the music city to take on the Nashville Predators. While the game may not bring immediate excitement for most hockey fans, for those faithful to the Oilers it means the team’s first game with Ilya Bryzgalov starting in goal.
It was confirmed by head coach Dallas Eakins on Tuesday that Bryzgalov would get the nod on Thursday against the Preds after speculation arose that the Russian netminder would get one of the two games this week. Given it’s a back-to-back slate with stops in Nashville and then Columbus, it makes sense to break up the work load for current front man Devan Dubnyk.
Bryzgalov gave the home town fans something to cheer about in last night’s 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks when he came in roughly half way through the game and managed to keep the game from being a runaway. Making 12 saves on 13 shots, Bryzgalov admitted he was nervous when he was called upon to replace Dubnyk and he was welcomed with a standing ovation from the fans of Oil Country.
With his first start coming on the road, away from Rexall Place, it should help calm the nerves, if there will be any for Bryzgalov on Thursday as he looks to get his NHL career back on track in Edmonton.
Coming off a disappointing season with the Philadelphia Flyers last year, Bryzgalov was bought out by the club this summer essentially making him a free-agent. It wasn’t until Dubnyk and company struggled to the point that GM Craig MacTavish was forced to call Bryzgalov and sign him to a one-year deal in an attempt to salvage any ounce of respectability the Oilers may still have.
Upon the signing, Dubnyk turned his own game around over a five start span before succumbing to the pressure that the Chicago Blackhawks applied last night, scoring four goals on just fourteen shots before being lifted.
As noted on the Score mobile report, the Predators are ranked 24th in the league in the goals scored category, thus making it a good game for Bryzgalov to get his first start in.