CHICAGO – Look back at the goals Ilya Bryzgalov has allowed his postseason, and you’d have to nitpick to decree total blame on the veteran goaltender.
But numbers are numbers, and Bryzgalov’s numbers have been horrible lately.
With Darcy Kuemper injured, the net belongs to Bryzgalov again just like it did in Games 1 and 2 in the first round. When Bryzgalov allowed four goals on 21 shots in Friday’s Game 1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, it put his record at 1-4 in his past five starts dating to the regular season with a ghastly 4.96 goals-against average and .819 save percentage. He has been pulled twice despite the Wild allowing 24 or fewer shots in four of those starts.
Asked how he’s feeling, Bryzgalov, who went 7-0-3 in his first 10 starts with the Wild, said Saturday, “On the one side good, on the other one not very good. I’m not happy with the results, what we got when I played. Obviously I want to change it.”
Wild coach Mike Yeo talked with Bryzgalov recently. The goalie said the conversation isn’t for “public record,” but Yeo said Saturday that he feels “pretty good that he’s going to play well” in Game 2.
“He’s excited for the game [Sunday], and he’s putting pressure on himself, but the bottom line is I want everyone to remember [Friday’s 5-2 loss], to feel that game but to come back with a little bit more.”
Bryzgalov has been criticized in some circles for Patrick Kane’s sensational game-winning goal, a goal where he tiptoed the blue line, cut across the slot on his backhand and pitchforked a backhander under the crossbar from a tight angle. There’s no other place Kane could have scored.
“It’s a great shot, but I probably should have been in a different position,” Bryzgalov said. “Get a little bit taller and he’ll hit me in the shoulder. I thought he might cut in the middle. That’s why I kind of put my stick down.”
Yeo said there’s no status change with Kuemper, who was injured in Game 7 against Colorado and is not in Chicago.
Putting on the hits
For the most part this postseason, the Wild’s third defense pair of Clayton Stoner and Nate Prosser has played well. Stoner, especially, has been incredibly physical and executed several mammoth checks in Game 1 against Joakim Nordstrom and Andrew Shaw.
Shaw left the game because of a lower-body injury.
“It doesn’t matter who he’s hitting, he’s a truck,” Prosser said. ‘‘It gets our bench going.”
Yeo points to changes
Yeo tinkered with his third and fourth lines in Saturday’s practice.
Justin Fontaine, scratched in Game 7 of the first round and Friday’s Game 1 of this round, looked to be back in Sunday’s lineup and reunited on the checking line with Nino Niederreiter and Erik Haula. Kyle Brodziak will center Dany Heatley and Cody McCormick.
Yeo also talked with struggling forwards Jason Pominville and Matt Moulson, who each have one goal this postseason.
“[Game 1], that for me was maybe Pommer’s best game that he’s played in the playoffs,” Yeo said. “I had him involved in seven scoring chances himself. There’s a couple one-timers, a couple shots that are a little bit off, and quite often you see that with players that are pressing. I would like to see him build off that game
“Mouls is another guy with getting traded here and the idea that we’re counting on him for offense, similarly I think when you start to press and you start to feel that, you have to make sure that you’re able to push that aside and focus on the things that you need to do in order to make it happen. I felt like he got away from that. Just having the chance to talk to him today and hearing some of the things that he said, I think he’ll be ready to go [Game 2].”
• Defenseman Brent Seabrook is tied with Kane and Jonathan Toews for the Blackhawks’ lead with eight points. He has two points in each of his four playoff games.
“I got an assist on Kaner’s [highlight-reel] goal, so those don’t hurt. I didn’t really do much on that,” Seabrook said. “Like I’ve been doing all year, just trying to contribute and get pucks on the net. Power play’s been clicking a little bit. It was clicking [Friday] a little bit. Some pucks have found some holes, and some pucks have gone in. That’s it.”
• Shaw (lower body) is questionable to play Game 2. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said it’s not a long-term injury.
• Quenneville said forward Kris Versteeg was pulled from Friday’s lineup after warmups because he was under the weather.
• Stephane Veilleux looks as if he’ll be scratched for the Wild on Sunday.