When attempting to build a bottom feeder into a contender, being in the right place at the right time can go a long way. For Phoenix, being near the bottom of the NHL’s standings turned out to be a huge advantage Saturday.
The Coyotes’ lowly standing enabled them to claim Ilya Bryzgalov after the goaltender had been placed on waivers by the Anaheim Ducks.
“Sometimes,” Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney admitted, “you have to be lucky.”
Timing and geography also played a role in hastening Bryzgalov’s impact on the Coyotes, who happened to be in Los Angeles for a Saturday matinee with the Kings at the time of the waiver deal.
Bryzgalov was home in Orange County when he got word he’d been claimed by Phoenix, and after a short commute, he was not only in uniform, but managed to post a shutout in his Coyotes debut. Bryzgalov made 28 saves as Phoenix beat the Kings, 1-0.
If you’re shocked that a player of Bryzgalov’s quality – he went 3-1 in last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs – was waived, you’re not alone.
Bryzgalov’s name made its way to the waiver wire because Anaheim GM Brian Burke was unable to find a market for the 27-year-old goalie. The Ducks gained $250,000 in salary cap room, while Burke fulfilled his promise of moving Bryzgalov out from behind the enormous shadow of Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
“It’s amazing that a player of his caliber and some of the things that he’s accomplished and this is the only way to find a place for the player to play,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle told Eric Stephens of the Los Angeles Times.
“When we can get something for nothing,” Maloney said, “in my mind, that’s significant for us.”
Bryzgalov is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Giguere’s new backup in Anaheim will be 25-year-old Jonas Hiller. The Swiss import began the season with the Ducks while Giguere was recovering from surgery for a sports hernia. In two games, Hiller went 1-1 with a 3.02 goals-against average and .885 save percentage.
The Ducks, meanwhile, appear to be shaking off their Stanley Cup hangover, winning four consecutive games to improve their record to 10-8-3. Anaheim began the week just two points behind Pacific Division leading San Jose.
Sweeping changes -- The Dallas Stars responded to a disappointing 7-7-3 start by cleaning house. Out are GM Doug Armstrong and team president Jim Lites.
The Stars’ new president is Jeff Cogen who had been running Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers. Brett Hull and Les Jackson will tag-team the GM job on an interim basis.
“We’ll do this for the rest of the season and see how we do,” Stars owner Tom Hicks told the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.
“The first thing is you have to build an atmosphere from everyone in the offices right down to the trainers that is conducive to working together,” Hull said. “The cliché is family, but it really is that way.”
Around the Pacific -- Dallas placed Todd Fedoruk on waivers Sunday. … Early in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Phoenix, Kings coach Marc Crawford experimented with breaking up his top line of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Mike Cammalleri. Ladislav Nagy took Cammalleri’s place before the line was reunited in the third period. ... Anaheim has won three straight shootouts.
Who’s hot -- Jussi Jokinen of the Stars had four goals in his team’s 6-1 win over Colorado last Friday. ... Anaheim’s Chris Kunitz has four points (one goal, three assists) in his last two games; teammate Chris Pronger has eight assists in seven games. ... San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has a 0.48 GAA and .977 save percentage in his last two starts. ... It’s easy to see why the Ducks were able to part with Ilya Bryzgalov: No. 1 goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere is 2-0 with a 1.92 GAA and .931 save percentage in his last two appearances. Giguere has stopped the last 10 shootout attempts he has faced.
Not hot -- Mike Zigomanis of Phoenix is scoreless in his last eight games. ... Dallas goalie Marty Turco is 0-1-2 with a 4.48 GAA while stopping just 84.4 percent of the shots he’s faced in three games prior to Monday’s meeting with the Kings.
The week ahead -- The week’s most interesting Pacific Division game will take place Friday in Anaheim when Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov faces his old teammates for the first time.
After hosting Los Angeles Monday and Anaheim Wednesday, Dallas will wrap up a five-game home stand Friday against Toronto. The Stars then embark on a six-game roadie that opens in New York with games against both the Rangers and Islanders, and concludes with stops in New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Columbus.
The Kings took a three-game losing streak with them as they played the first of five consecutive games away from home Monday in Dallas. L.A. also visits Phoenix, San Jose, Anaheim and San Jose for a second time before returning to Staples Center Dec. 1 vs. Colorado.