Coming off a 33-save performance that included shutting out the Nashville Predators, Ilya Bryzgalov may have exceeded all expectations in his Edmonton Oilers debut last night. The question now becomes, should Dallas Eakins give Bryzgalov the start tonight in Columbus?
Of course this was said when Dubnyk was playing well, the Oilers had won three in a row and it was difficult to argue that Bryzgalov should see some playing time prior to the road trip.
Then the Chicago Blackhawks lit up Dubnyk for 4 goals on just 14 shots and suddenly Oilers fans got their first look at the new number 80. When Eakins decided to give the Russian netminder the start in Nashville, it made perfect sense given Dubnyk was shaky and the team has another game the very next night.
But now Eakins is faced with a decision that could contradict what he said last week. When the Oilers were winning and Dubnyk was on a roll, the head coach stated that he “has to go with the hot hand.” Interesting.
You could argue that Bryzgalov now has the hot hand, albeit a small sample size. There is the argument that his conditioning may not be ready for back-to-back games with his minutes played just over 200 minutes (including his two starts in the AHL) and that starting him could put pressure on the rest of the team to pick up the slack, if he does struggle.
But on a season that could be written off in the next few weeks, barring another losing streak, what do the Oilers have to lose? Truth be told, nothing.
So should Eakins live up to his statement last week when he declared he would ride the hot goalie and start Bryzgalov? That remains to be seen but if you were the coach, what would you do? Would you start Bryzgalov tonight in Columbus? Take part in our daily poll and let’s see how Oilers fans feel about this.