DENVER – Jean-Sebastien Giguere won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007, but the Colorado Avalanche backup goalie said the best stretch of his career as a goaltender came during the 2003 Western Conference finals against the Wild.
Giguere recorded three consecutive shutouts to open the series and had a shutout streak of 212 minutes, 43 seconds before Andrew Brunette scored the Wild’s only goal in Game 4 as the Ducks swept the series.
“You kind of feel unbeatable at that point,” said Giguere, who stopped 122 of 123 shots in the series. “You’re so in the zone and everything seems to hit you and you get lucky a lot of the times, too. It was probably the most fun I’ve had playing.”
Giguere went on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP despite losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. In fact, the Wild’s Mike Rupp scored the Cup-clinching goal for the New Jersey Devils.
“Personally, three shutouts in a row is not a bad thing in that series, but at the end of the day, winning is what matters and is what’s fun and we didn’t do it that year,” Giguere said.
Giguere would, however, in 2007 with Wild goalie Ilya Bryz- galov as his Anaheim backup. Eleven years later, Bryzgalov is trying to lead the Wild to its first playoff-series victory in 11 years.
“He keeps everything light and fun, and you never have a boring day with Bryz around,” said the 36-year-old Giguere, who might be considering retirement after this season. “He was a good kid. He was trying to make his place as a No. 1 goalie in the league and he gave me a run for my money, that’s for sure. He made me better because I had to play good if I wanted to keep playing.
“It’s been a tough year for the goalies in Minnesota. What did they have, five? It’s tough to hear what [Josh Harding] went through with [multiple sclerosis], especially with how great he was playing. But this gives Bryz a chance to show everybody again that he can be a No. 1 goalie.”
Johnson a fan of Suter
Colorado’s Erik Johnson, a Bloomington native and former Gopher, finally emerged as a top defenseman this season after being drafted No. 1 overall by St. Louis back in 2006.
For his money, Johnson said nobody in the league plays that position better than the Wild’s Ryan Suter right now.
“I love his game,” Johnson said. “In my opinion, I think he’s the best D-man in the league. Not only can he play half the game or more for you, he’s just kind of a cool, calm, collected guy back there. It seems like when he’s on the ice, their team plays with a lot more poise. He’s definitely my pick for the Norris Trophy and he was last year, too. I just think he’s a terrific player.”
Suter led the NHL in minutes played for a season consecutive season. His average time on ice of 29 minutes, 24 seconds was the highest by any NHL player since the 2001-02 season (the Blues’ Chris Pronger, 29:28).
“The thing that impresses me is, most guys have to pace themselves to play that much,” Johnson said. “He seems like he’s just doing it effortless. That might be farm boy strong from him working on the farm all summer in Wisconsin, which I know he does.”
• Defenseman Christian Folin, who had an assist and was plus-3 in his NHL debut in the second-to-last regular-season game against St. Louis, has returned to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell to finish some classes and pack up his life.
Folin, who is not eligible to play in the playoffs, is expected to return to the Wild next week for practices. As is custom when an AHL affiliate’s season has ended during the NHL playoffs, the Wild also is expected to call up a handful of Iowa Wild players Tuesday to begin practicing separately from Wild sessions.
• Forward Justin Fontaine and defenseman Jon Blum were scratched for the Wild.
• John Curry backed up Bryzgalov, but Wild coach Mike Yeo said Darcy Kuemper is getting closer to returning from injury.
• Avs coach Patrick Roy admitted that Colorado had been pre-scouting Chicago, which seemed its destined first-round opponent, until the Avalanche surged (and the Blues plummeted) to win the Central Division.
“We thought we would play Chicago just like everybody else, and probably the 6,000 people who bought tickets here as well,” Roy joked.
Staff writer Chip Scoggins contributed to this report.