It is a measure of how tough the Western Conference playoff race is when the Phoenix Coyotes - who have won six of their past 10 games - can be three points behind Pacific Division-leading San Jose, yet be just four points ahead of ninth-place Dallas. But that’s the reality the Yotes face and luckily for them goalie Ilya Bryzgalov appears to be up to the challenge.
With a 32-18-8 record, 2.54 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and six shutouts, Bryzgalov is helping Phoenix keep pace in the standings and also making a good case for a Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder. In his past two games, the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent, clearly is the franchise’s most valuable player, has a sparkling 1.51 GAA and .953 save percentage.
The Coyotes will need Bryzgalov to be just as sharp the rest of the regular season, but they’ll also need to reverse a trend that, if followed, could knock them out of the playoff picture: the franchise has a 22-12-5 road record and a less-impressive 17-12-6 mark at Jobing.com Arena, but only has two remaining road games and six at home. Three of those final eight games are against non-playoff teams (St. Louis, Columbus and Colorado), but three games against the fearsome San Jose Sharks could mean the difference between an early golf season and a shot at the Stanley Cup.
Canucks still rolling, but the real pressure is about to set in
Alex Ovechkin has 10 game-winning goals for rejuvenated Caps; next best is Alex Semin, with four
Only three road games remaining in Wings’ final 10 games, leaving them time to rest and focus on post-season
Flyers still have no definitive No. 1 goalie
Soaring Sharks have scored at least one power play goal in 12 of their past 15 games
Injury to Patrick Sharp threatens Hawks’ playoff chances
Without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Pens have had to take a defensive approach – and with league’s best penalty kill (86.4 percent), that approach is working
P.K. Subban’s hat trick against Wild was first by a Habs rookie and first for a blueliner since Sheldon Souray in December. 2003
In nine games in March, netminder Ilya Bryzgalov has allowed just 20 goals
Bruins are 7-3-3 since acquiring Tomas Kaberle Feb. 18
Kings haven’t lost more than two in a row since mid-January
Dan Ellis, Ray Emery giving hot Ducks Jonas Hiller-style goaltending
In his past two games Pekka Rinne is 2-0-0 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .949 save percentage
Bolts have scored three or more goals just four times in their past 15 games (5-5-5)
Blueshirts host Panthers, Sens this week before make-or-break four-game road trip that features showdowns with Bruins, Sabres and Flyers
Stars haven’t won more than two straight games since five-game win streak in late January
Only two of Sabres’ five remaining games in March are against teams currently in playoff position
Second-half surge is starting to fizzle out at precisely the wrong time
Loss to Sens a serious blow to Devils’ faint playoff hopes
Once again, Leafs look to be just bad enough to miss post-season and just good enough to stay out of lottery (not that it would behoove them to do so this season)
At most crucial time of year, no sense of urgency to Canes’ game
Grabner, Isles setting a good tone for next season
Wild’s 8-1 humiliation at the hands of Montreal shows this team not ready for next level
Panthers haven’t quit on Peter DeBoer, but next season will be full of growing pains
Blues’ awful road record (12-19-5) was their undoing this season
Depressing end to season for once-promising Thrashers
Will serious changes be coming for underwhelming Blue Jackets core?
Sens doing a solid job of playing spoiler – beat desperate Thrashers once, Devils twice in March
Oilers freefalling to end their abysmal season
Will GM Greg Sherman and/or coach Joe Sacco pay for Avs’ collapse with their jobs?
The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.
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