PITTSBURGH -- Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma has seen more of Ilya Bryzgalov than most of his squad, having been in the Anaheim Ducks organization when Bryzgalov first arrived from Russia. When he first got into coaching as an assistant in Cincinnati, where the Ducks’ AHL affiliate was based, Bylsma and Bryzgalov crossed paths again.
Bylsma said he recalls meeting an 18-year-old Bryzgalov and being struck by how talented he was even then.
“He’s a good goaltender and he’s been a big part of the success of his teams,” the Penguins coach said.
“He’s a big guy. Challenges a little bit more than the other guy," he said, referring to Sergei Bobrovsky.
As for the up-and-down season Bryzgalov endured in his first season in Philadelphia, Bylsma wouldn’t comment other than to say he wasn’t surprised that the unorthodox netminder got on a roll in the second half of the season.
“I think Bryz’s talent is something we haven’t seen a lot of but it’s very high-end. He’s an extremely talented goalie, a big-body goalie,” Bylsma said.