sticking with Ilya Bryzgalov in goal
CHICAGO As the last remaining Wild players filed out of the visiting locker room with their bags packed and a plane back to Minnesota to catch, Mikko Koivu, the team’s captain, walked over to Ilya Bryzgalov.
Koivu patted the goalie on the shoulders twice and looked him in the eyes. He didn’t say anything. Bryzgalov nodded his head in recognition.
After the sixth straight game in which Bryzgalov allowed three goals or more, Koivu’s actions spoke as loudly as any words: This is still the Wild’s starting goalie.
“We’re not going to sit around waiting for another option,” coach Mike Yeo said after the 4 1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. “This is the guy.”
That’s partly because of the success Bryzgalov had in March and early April after the Wild acquired him from Edmonton for a fourth round draft pick. But it’s also largely because the Wild don’t have many other options.
Darcy Kuemper is on super secret lockdown, and Yeo won’t even say where his injured starter is. Kuemper presumably is out with a concussion.
He sustained a concussion in late March and knocked his head against defenseman Ryan Suter’s knee on a play behind the net in Game 7 against the Colorado Avalanche.
Kuemper exited in the third period of that game and hasn’t been seen since. He didn’t join the team in Chicago for Games 1 or 2.
Opening night starter timberland boots Niklas Backstrom was shut down in March and Josh Harding is an, “extreme long shot,” to play this series, Yeo said, despite skating with the Wild in recent days. Their fifth goalie and backup in the first timberland boots two games of this series is John Curry, a 30 year old with six NH timberland boots L games under his belt.
So while the Wild continue to preach confidence in Bryzgalov, who did make a few nice saves Sunday, they don’t have many options behind him.
“So let’s quit even talking about it right now,” Yeo said. “We shouldn’t even be talking about who’s backing up. This is the guy for us right now.”
Bryzgalov started Games 1 and 2 in the Wild’s opening round series against Colorado and Games 1 and 2 against Chicago. The Wild have lost all four of those games.
He caught a tough bounce early Sunday, which led to Chicago’s first goal.
Midway through the first period, Nate Prosser failed to get a puck deep in the Chicago zone and Bryan Bickell made a stretch pass to Marian Hossa, who was behind Clayton Stoner in the neutral zone.
Bryzgalov made an impressive save on Hossa’s breakaway, but the puck bounced up, and just as it was landing in the crease, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who had beaten Wild captain Mikko Koivu at the doorstep, tapped in the goal.
“First off, that first goal was pretty tough,” Yeo said. “I feel bad about that one because he made an unbelievable save and it ended up in the back of the net.”
Bryzgalov made 18 saves on 21 shots in Game 2 after making 17 saves on 21 shots in Game 1.
“They have chances, we have some chances; they get some lucky bounces, we don’t,” Bryzgalov said of Game 2. “What can you do? They timberland boots found a bounce. Good for them.”
While Bryzgalov hasn’t stolen the Wild a win in weeks, he isn’t the reason they’re down 2 0.
Because of that and the lack of other options Bryzgalov is still the team’s starting goalie.
“We have to find a way as a team, not just one guy,” Yeo said. “It’s on him, for sure, but it’s on our group, too. It’s on our staff. It’s on everybody to find a way to get a win.”