Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/18/13
Ilya Bryzgalov enjoyed spending five months with his family, away from the rigours of pro hockey, but he checked into Edmonton on Monday hoping to prove he belongs in the NHL. The 33-year-old Russian netminder was signed to a one-year, $2-million contract by Edmonton earlier this month, after the Philadelphia Flyers bought of the final seven years of his nine-year $51-million contract in June. After his first practice with the Oilers, the eight-year NHL veteran said he didn’t want to comment about whether he’s in shape. “I’ve only had my skates on one week and we’re in the process of working, but it’s going to be day-by-day decision,” he said. “It’s not just up to me, depends on coach, too.” He said it was a “good practice” but admitted it will take him some time to readjust to the speed of the NHL after five months away and playing just two games for the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons, where he gave up five goals on 25 shots his first game and one goal in 25 shots his second outing. “The first game I felt a little bit clumsy, was not comfortable with lots of players skating back and forth in front,” he said. “By second game I felt better. If you want to play you have to continue to prove you’re good enough. You have to prove every day.” Oilers coach Dallas Eakins hasn’t decided when Bryzgalov might play, saying it will depend on two key factors: Bryzgalov’s conditioning and the play of goaltender Devan Dubnyk. “I’m comfortable when he’s comfortable,” Eakins said of Bryzgalov. “A lot will have to do if Dubs can keep rolling like he is. Dubs is going lights out, Dubs gets the net.” Eakins said he will speak to Bryzgalov every day to gauge where he’s at in terms of conditioning and when he thinks he’s ready to play. “He’s a veteran guy, he knows his body and he’ll know when he’s ready,” said Eakins. “If he wants to play the next day then he will be a consideration.”
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