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Bryzgalov showing impressive form for Flyers

Sunday, 03.11.2012 / 10:28 AM / The Hot List

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

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Bryzgalov showing impressive form for Flyers
After a rough first half of the season, Ilya Bryzgalov is finally playing the way the Flyers expected him to when he signed a massive contract this offseason.
Ilya Bryzgalov was a hit on "24/7" earlier this season for his views on life. These days, he's earning plaudits for providing the kind of goaltending the Philadelphia Flyers were looking for when they signed him last summer.

Ilya Bryzgalov
Goalie - PHI
RECORD: 27-13-6
GAA: 2.59 | SVP: 0.907
Bryzgalov's bon mots on the HBO series were more notable than his play between the pipes for the first two-thirds of the season -- he struggled to keep his goals-against average under 3 and his save percentage over .900. Now it's opponents who are struggling -- to get the puck past him.

The Russian goaltender completed his third shutout in seven days by stopping 29 Toronto shots through 65 minutes, then denied all three shootout attempts to give the Flyers a 1-0 victory on Saturday night. He's started and won the Flyers' first five games this month, allowing just five goals in the process -- including back-to-back shutouts against Florida and Toronto.

Five up -- Five other players who had a good week:

Max Pacioretty -- One year after a big hit by Zdeno Chara nearly ended his career, Pacioretty tore through Western Canada, leading Montreal to two wins in three games by piling up seven points. His two goals in Edmonton made him the first U.S.-born player to score 30 goals with the Canadiens.

Ilya Kovalchuk
-- He may never pile up goals in New Jersey the way he did in Atlanta, but Kovalchuk has become the driving force behind the Devils' offense. He had his second hat trick of the season on Thursday, and with six points in his last three games, he's now seventh in the points race with 68.

Curtis Glencross -- Glencross has been on fire since returning from a knee injury. He has goals in six straight games, matching the longest streak in the NHL this season, to help Calgary climb within two points of the last playoff berth in the West.

Semyon Varlamov -- He's not a big fan of the shootout, but that doesn't mean Varlamov can't win them. He led Colorado to a 3-2 shootout win against Edmonton on Saturday, capping a seven-day stretch in which he went 3-1-0 and allowed just six goals.

Kari Lehtonen -- The Dallas Stars have won five in a row and are on a 9-0-1 roll, largely because of Lehtonen's play between the pipes. He blanked Anaheim 2-0 on Saturday and has won his last four decisions while surrendering just six goals.

Five down -- Five players who are struggling:

Henrik Sedin -- The NHL's top scorer in 2010-11 is in perhaps the biggest slump of his career. Vancouver's captain has gone eight games without a point, a big reason the Canucks are struggling to score. Another is that twin brother Daniel has gone pointless in six straight games.

Cody Hodgson -- Buffalo thought Hodgson would give them an offensive boost when they acquired him from Vancouver in perhaps the biggest deal at the trade deadline. It hasn't happened yet -- the 22-year-old center has gone without a point in seven games since the trade.

Henrik Sedin
Center - VAN
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 53 | PTS: 66
SOG: 95 | +/-: 19
Saku Koivu -- Anaheim's lack of secondary scoring has been a problem all season, and Koivu's lack of production has been a big reason for the slump that has dropped the Ducks out of the playoff race. Koivu has gone nine games without a point despite averaging more than 19 minutes a game during that span.

Daymond Langkow -- Phoenix is scrounging for offense as it tries to hold on to a playoff berth in the West. One reason is a lack of production from Langkow, who has gone nine games without a point.

Tim Thomas -- The 2011 Vezina Trophy winner's numbers are down across the board from last season, and he's just 2-4-0 while allowing 18 goals in six games -- including three in the first period before being hooked in Sunday's loss at Pittsburgh. A better indication that his play has been down from last season: He's gone without a shutout since Dec. 17.

Injuries, news and notes: Sidney Crosby won't be on the ice today when Pittsburgh hosts Boston (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, TSN). But the Penguins' captain hopes to be in uniform this week -- perhaps as soon as his team's next game Thursday in New York.

Out -- Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky missed New York's games Thursday and Friday with a sinus problem. … Colorado center Matt Duchene is expected to miss at least three weeks after injuring his ankle on Tuesday. … Anaheim's top scorer, Corey Perry, left in the third period on Saturday with a shoulder injury; X-rays were negative. … Dallas defenseman Sheldon Souray left Thursday's game with a lower-body injury and didn't play Saturday. … Toronto forward Joffrey Lupul will miss at least a couple of weeks with an upper-body injury sustained on Tuesday. Another forward, Mike Brown, left Wednesday's game with a bruised thigh injury and hasn't played since. He could miss this week as well. … Montreal's David Desharnais left Thursday's game due to a lower-body injury. … Phoenix center Martin Hanzal left Thursday's game with what appeared to be a wrist injury and sat out Saturday. … Columbus goaltender Steve Mason is out after his hand was cut by a skate during Thursday's game. Forward Derek MacKenzie is out indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms after being injured on Thursday. Defenseman Fedor Tyutin could miss the rest of the season with a broken hand sustained on Tuesday. … Tampa Bay goaltender Mathieu Garon left Tuesday's game with a lower-body injury that is expected to keep him out for at least another 2-3 weeks. … Chicago defenseman Sami Lepisto is out indefinitely with a leg injury sustained on Tuesday. … Detroit forward Todd Bertuzzi has missed the Wings' last two games with a groin injury. …Buffalo's Thomas Vanek left Thursday's game with an upper-body injury, didn't play Saturday and is likely to miss Monday's game. Forward Matt Ellis (upper-body) left Saturday with an upper-body injury. … Carolina forward Jiri Tlusty left Saturday's game with an upper-body injury. … Flyers forward Jakub Voracek hasn't played since absorbing a thunderous hit on Tuesday.

Returning -- Dallas activated captain Brenden Morrow off IR on Friday, and he scored the winning goal on Saturday after missing 18 games with an upper-body injury. … Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov made his season debut on Saturday after rehabbing following knee surgery that kept him out for more than a year. Forwards Scott Gomez and Aaron Palushaj returned Thursday after missing two games each with eye injuries. …  Chicago defenseman Niclas Hjalmarsson was back in the lineup Friday; he had been sidelined since Feb. 23 due to a concussion. … Forward Alexei Ponikarovsky was back in New Jersey's lineup on Thursday after missing three games with a leg injury. … Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman was back on Tuesday after missing four games with an upper-body injury. … Carolina forward Tuomo Ruutu returned Saturday after missing 10 games with an upper-body injury. … Phoenix got defenseman Rostislav Klesla back on Saturday after he sat for nine games due to an upper-body injury.

Still out -- Florida is hanging on in the Southeast Division despite a raft of injuries.  Top-four defenseman Dmitry Kulikov is skating but is likely a couple of weeks away from returning from a knee injury. Top scorer Kris Versteeg has missed two weeks with a lower-body injury. Scottie Upshall has begun to skate again after being out with a sports hernia injury. He has played just 17 games this season. Matt Bradley is still nowhere close to returning to action from a concussion. … Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom (ankle) and center Pavel Datsyuk (knee surgery) both returned to practice last week. They hope to be back within a week. … Ottawa forward Jesse Winchester is skating but not yet ready to return from a concussion that has kept him out since Dec. 20. … Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang, still dealing with concussion-line symptoms, was able to skate at Friday's practice. … Buffalo forward Jochen Hecht, who has missed most of the season with a concussion, may not play again during the regular season. … Chicago forward Ben Smith will undergo season-ending surgery this week to fix a right hip labral tear and a hernia.

The week ahead --

Games to watch:

Detroit at Los Angeles (March 13) -- The Wings begin the California portion of their road trip with their second game against the Kings in a span of four days.

Pittsburgh at New York Rangers (March 15; NHLN-US) -- The Penguins have been creeping up on the Rangers in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference races. A win at Madison Square Garden would boost their chances of passing New York.

Washington at Winnipeg (March 16) -- The Caps, who spend the week away from home, head for Winnipeg in a game between two teams battling for the final playoff berth in the West -- and with hopes of overtaking Florida for first place in the Southeast Division.

Philadelphia at Boston (March 17; NHLN-US) -- The Flyers come to Boston for the first time since winning 2-1 on opening night.

Pittsburgh at Philadelphia (March 18; NBC, NHLN-Canada) -- The Penguins pay their third and final visit of the season to Wells Fargo Arena on NBC's game of the week; the Flyers still have two trips remaining to Pittsburgh.

Tough week ahead:

Nashville Predators -- The Preds have the toughest week of any team -- they play four games on a western trip, including three games in four nights against the three California teams.

Phoenix Coyotes -- It's a grueling week for the Desert Dogs, who start with a tough home game against Nashville before heading to Western Canada for three games.

Pittsburgh Penguins -- The Penguins don't face lengthy travel problems this week, but they're playing three times in four days on the road in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia.

Easy week ahead:

Minnesota Wild -- The Wild, who've been riddled with injuries, get a chance to take a breath this week. They play only two games, neither against a member of the NHL's elite, as Dallas and Carolina come to the Xcel Energy Center.

New York Rangers ­­-- The Rangers kick off a seven-game homestand on Sunday and will be home for three more games in the next seven days -- including an Atlantic Division showdown against Pittsburgh.

Vancouver Canucks -- Vancouver will spend a second straight week enjoying the comforts of home. The schedule isn't demanding, with only playoff hopeful Phoenix and last-place Columbus coming to town.

Quote of the Day

My focus is always just to play as well as I can and do my job, no matter where the faceoff is.

— New York Rangers forward Carl Hagelin on using his speed to his advantage
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