Ilya Bryzgalov A Surprise Key To Ducks Success

History Not On Ducks’ Side

(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

The Anaheim Ducks sit at the top of the National Hockey League. Starting goaltender Frederik Andersen has been key to that success, coming up big in a historical amount of one-goal games. On the surface, goaltending isn’t one of Anaheim’s concerns. History tells us though that it should be every bit their concern.

On average, starting goaltenders on Stanley Cup Final-qualifying teams since the 2005 lockout have played roughly 47 games per season. The highest number of starts for any Final starter was Jonathan Quick this past spring with 69, 7 more than the next highest.

To boot, only four starters in that group played 60 or more games. The past ten years demonstrate a clear trend: teams that make the Final give their starters proper rest. Andersen is on pace to start 74 games. Are the Ducks ignoring history?

The Bryzgalov Factor

(Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)
(Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)

Bruce Boudreau can only take so much blame for giving Andersen a mammoth workload. He hasn’t had a reliable backup to work with at all so far, and John Gibson is down in the minors to develop his game. Jason Labarbera has shown blips, but nothing more.

General manager Bob Murray tried addressing the situation by going out and over-paying a declining, yet familiar player in Ilya Bryzgalov. Even with the veteran’s arrival, Boudreau has remained intent on starting Andersen nearly every game. As a result, Bryzgalov hasn’t been able to get into any sort of rhythm. He didn’t look terrible against the Rangers, but it won’t be a game that he’ll tell his grand-kids about.

There are two paths that Anaheim can embark on here. Either Boudreau lets Andersen continue on his current pace and see if he can defy a ten-year trend in the playoffs, or he can entrust Bryzgalov with more games to rest his starter.

Neither route is especially tantalizing: the odds are Andersen won’t deliver in the playoffs given his current pace, and Bryzgalov hasn’t shown that he’s anywhere close to even his Flyers form, let alone his Coyotes tenure.

The decision really shouldn’t be that hard though. Barring an utter meltdown, the Ducks will make the playoffs this year. For all the hype that home ice gets in the media, it hasn’t been a tangible advantage in recent years.

Thus, the goal for Bruce Boudreau and his men should then be to make the playoffs with a healthy and rested squad. History says that rest is paramount to winning championships, and if the Ducks are serious about winning a Stanley Cup this season, they’ll have to trust Bryzgalov with more games, whether they like it or not.



2 thoughts on “Ilya Bryzgalov A Surprise Key To Ducks Success”

  1. I think you have some awesome points about games played by goalies on Stanley Cup Final qualifying teams rarely starting more than 60 games in a season, but Frederik Andersen certainly is not on pace to start 74 games. My guess is that you went to where their projected games played calculation assumes that you are starting every remaining game which is why it shows him at 74, but if you look at his percentage of starts (35 starts out of the Ducks 43 games) he’s playing a little over 81% of their games which would project him to start 66.7 games. That still puts him on the higher end of starts that you’d like to see your goalie make based upon the recent history since 2005, but it isn’t unprecedented. Also, Cory Schneider (38/44 – 86%), Pekka Rinne (36/41 – 88%), Braden Holtby (35/41 – 85%), Kari Lehtonin (35/41 – 85%), Jonathan Quick (35/42 – 83%), and Carey Price (34/41 – 83%) have all started a greater percentage of their teams’ games to date. I assume the Ducks will scale back his starts slightly over the last 39 games, just as these other teams will likely do the same with their goalies, but they would probably rather have a firmer grasp on the playoffs before letting the space cadet with a 4.93 GAA start playing more games.

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more. Unfortunately Boudreau will continue to ride Andersen, right to an early first round exit from the playoffs. Just look at the early part of the season. I emailed Boudreau, almost begging, for him to give Andersen a break, especially on the back to back game nights, and more importantly, give Bobkov his first NHL start. All the games Bobkov dressed to sit on the beach as a back up, and the organization couldn’t even reward him with a start? Disappointed in the organization. I’m writing this from Norfolk, VA. so I might be a little on the jaded side, especially since getting the news that the Ducks are taking our Admirals away. I’ll give credit where it is due. It was smart to bring in Bryzgalov. Gibby wasn’t ready to move up to the bigs full time. Especially if he was just going to ride the bench watching Andersen.

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