How badly does Ilya Bryzgalov need a win for the Ducks tonight?

How badly does Ilya Bryzgalov need a win for the Ducks tonight?
Ducks goalie Ilya Bryzgalov makes a save as the New York Rangers' Derick Brassard moves in for a rebound at Honda Center on Jan. 7. (Harry How / Getty Images)

Ilya Bryzgalov has appeared in three games in net for the Ducks, and Anaheim -- the NHL’s co-leader in points -- has lost in all three cases.

So the importance of Bryzgalov’s start Friday night against a visiting New Jersey Devils team placed sixth in the Metropolitan Division would seem to be high.

“I’m not making any comments that if he doesn’t play good, [minor-leaguer John] Gibson is coming back,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said after Friday’s morning skate at Honda Center.

"We just want Bryz to play the way he's capable of playing. We know he's a really good goalie. I've seen him play for years, and he's been really good.


"It's tough when you come [nearly] halfway through the year and you're spotting every fourth or fifth game, but we've had good practices, where he never had a chance to have good practices before his last start.

"Now that we have, I think he's ready. I think he'll play great."

Bryzgalov, 34, was lured from his family home in New Jersey and signed as a free agent Dec. 9, then was rushed into a relief appearance, giving up two goals on seven shots Dec. 16 in a 6-2 loss at Toronto.

He was then barraged three days later -- six goals allowed at Ottawa in 31 shots -- in another 6-2 defeat.

He started again Jan. 7 at home against the New York Rangers and made some impressive saves, but surrendered three goals in a 4-1 defeat.

The Ducks have extended time off this month, but starting Jan. 29, they play 12 games in 24 days, with three sets of back-to-backs and eight of those games on the road.

They need a steady backup for Frederik Andersen (24-6-5), who's already endured a stretch of playing 20 consecutive games.

In Norfolk, Gibson, 21, has made six starts and is 2-2 with a 2.36 goals-against average.

BELESKEY DISCUSSES BENCHING: Matt Beleskey started Wednesday’s game as the Ducks’ leading goal scorer, but after a bout of ineffectiveness that was too long for Boudreau’s liking, the forward was benched -- a healthy scratch -- in a 4-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Beleskey on Friday said he "hopes" to play Friday night.

"There's only one way to take it: You've got to come back and play better," Beleskey said. "Obviously, what I was doing wasn't cutting it. Got to take it and move on.

"You never want to sit out, never want to be out of the lineup. Do I think I deserved it? I didn't play well in two games. He was sending a message. It was received. It was a combination. He wants me to play harder. We've talked about it."

Beleskey had played in all 43 of the Ducks' prior games, scoring 17 goals in what has been a career year in his contract year.

"I hate watching games, no worse feeling than being a healthy scratch. You never want to have that happen again."