In a season loaded with stretches of stellar goaltending from surprising fantasy assets, nobody will ever forget the inspirational play of Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding.
Not only has Harding earned 18 wins in just 29 games (18-7-3), but he also still holds the NHL's best goals-against average (1.65) and save percentage (.933). Unfortunately, he hasn't played since Dec. 31, 2013 due to complications with multiple sclerosis, a situation that opened the door for Darcy Kuemper to produce a breakout rookie season.
But now there is another pleasant surprise in the Wild goalie carousel: the recent play of Ilya Bryzgalov.
Since joining the Wild at the NHL Trade Deadline, Bryzgalov has gone 4-0-2 with a 2.16 GAA and .909 save percentage, including a 36-save shutout against the New York Islanders
on March 18. Those stats aren't startling, but the wins have helped Minnesota cling to a wild-card spot for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference.
After being bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers at the end of last season, Bryzgalov faced an uncertain NHL future. Instead of settling for a gig in the Kontinental Hockey League, the 33-year-old spent part of his summer training with elite Swedish goalie coach Erik Granqvist. That led to an opportunity with the ECHL's Las Vegas Wranglers in October, where he would continue to train, this time with Wranglers goalie coach Michael Lawrence.