The Oilers turned to Ilya Bryzgalov last month to stabilize their goaltending, but now that the Russian goalie is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion, they’ll have to continue their improved play with the same tandem (Devan Dubnyk and the newly-recalled Jason LaBarbera) who struggled out of the gate. And if that doesn’t happen, GM Craig MacTavish has got to pull the trigger on a trade so that the remainder of Edmonton’s season doesn’t turn out to be as ugly as its beginning.
Bryzgalov has performed well in four regular-season games with the Oilers, posting a .939 save percentage and 2.11 goals-against average. But the uncertainty of his head injury underscores how important it is for the rest of Edmonton’s players to positively assert themselves quickly in his absence. They have to show they played a role in their relative turnaround of late and that it wasn’t all about Bryzgalov.
If Bryzgalov is gone all year, the Oilers are essentially back to square one and can’t wait until season’s end to arrive at the conclusion square one is incapable of carrying the load. They need to make that judgment long before the mercy of mid-April arrives. There’s no more time for MacTavish to waste. He can’t keep turning to quick fixes, which I think we all can admit is what Bryzgalov’s signing was. There’s no more “sooner or later” about this group. There’s been way too much “later” and not enough “sooner”.
This may become moot if Bryzgalov returns quickly. But even then, even with him, they’re still the Western Conference’s worst team and the third-worst franchise in the NHL. Isn’t it time Oilers brass looked to a deal of consequence?