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Inside the NHL | DUCK REPORT

Bryzgalov to Get a Shot at Limelight

March 16, 2004|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

In some ways, Mighty Duck training camp begins tonight, when 23-year-old goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov makes his first NHL start against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Bryzgalov and disappointing forward Stanislav Chistov were recalled from minor league Cincinnati Monday.

For Bryzgalov, it's a chance to show Duck hierarchy that he is ready. His play could partly affect how General Manager Bryan Murray operates this summer.

The Ducks already have Jean-Sebastien Giguere, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner in last season's playoffs, and Martin Gerber, considered one of the top backup goalies in the NHL. Bryzgalov has been considered one of the organization's top prospects since he was taken in the second round of the 2000 draft.

"The idea is to find out if he can play here and that could lead to other decisions," Murray said. "We can then maybe do something to help the team."

That probably means that Gerber or Bryzgalov could be traded.

Bryzgalov, who has spent three seasons with Cincinnati, has rebounded from a poor season in 2002-03. He has a 2.27 goals-against and .921 save percentage in 52 games. He made his NHL debut with a 32-minute relief appearance against Toronto Oct. 8, 2001, allowing one goal.

"He has played well [in Cincinnati] and deserves a chance at this level," Murray said.

Bryzgalov, though, will be returned to Cincinnati, which is in the race for an American Hockey League playoff spot.

For Chistov, the chore is a little more difficult. He must show Duck officials that he has learned. He had an exceptional rookie season a year ago with 12 goals and 30 points. He slipped this season, with one goal and 17 points in 46 games before being demoted.

Chistov frustrated team officials with his reluctance to shoot.

"We want to see him skate north and south and put the puck on the net," Coach Mike Babcock said.

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The Ducks raised more than $9,000 during a recent autographed-puck sale. The proceeds will go the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation.

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