It was not the type of debut that the Edmonton Oilers or Ilya Bryzgalov had envisioned but regardless, the veteran’s performance in the team’s 5-1 loss was a bright spot when there wasn’t a whole lot of anything to cheer about.
Coming in to relieve Devan Dubnyk who has been nothing short of brilliant lately, even Bryzgalov couldn’t have predicted that he’d play over 34 minutes in the Oilers’ first loss in four games. But he did and his first Oilers appearance was a good one.
Making 12 saves on 13 shots, the Russian netminder could have put up a goose egg in the stats column if it weren’t for a deflection that slipped past him late in the third period.
The Oilers faithful were also pleased to see Bryzgalov take over in goal, greeting him with a standing ovation that surely no one saw coming. But when reflecting on the type of year it’s been to date with the inconsistent play from Dubnyk, having a potential stabilizing force in Bryzgalov to come in and stop the bleeding is a site every Oilers’ fan will welcome.
The former Flyer admitted he was nervous when he was called upon, proving that not even he was expecting to make his debut in this fashion. It’s now over and for Bryzgalov and the Oilers they can focus on the next game, when it’s possible the ten-year veteran will make his first start of the season against either the Nashville Predators or Columbus Blue Jackets.
So on a night when the rest of the team decided not to show up, Bryzgalov gave fans an opportunity to cheer, both at the beginning of his debut and at the end. Let’s hope that this is a sign of things to come.