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Coyotes keep climbing

Ilya Bryzgalov has six shutouts this season with a .919 save percentage and 2.54 goals-against average.

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Ilya Bryzgalov has six shutouts this season with a .919 save percentage and 2.54 goals-against average.

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.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
P10
THE SCOOP

1

Vancouver Canucks

1

47-17-9

8-2-0

Canucks still rolling, but the real pressure is about to set in

2

Washington Capitals

2

42-21-10

9-1-0

Alex Ovechkin has 10 game-winning goals for rejuvenated Caps; next best is Alex Semin, with four

3

Detroit Red Wings

3

43-21-8

5-3-2

Only three road games remaining in Wings’ final 10 games, leaving them time to rest and focus on post-season

4

Philadelphia Flyers

4

44-19-8

4-4-2

Flyers still have no definitive No. 1 goalie

5

San Jose Sharks

6

42-23-8

6-2-2

Soaring Sharks have scored at least one power play goal in 12 of their past 15 games

6

Chicago Blackhawks

5

39-25-8

6-2-2

Injury to Patrick Sharp threatens Hawks’ playoff chances

7

Pittsburgh Penguins

7

41-23-8

5-3-2

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

8

Montreal Canadiens

10

40-26-7

7-3-0

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

9

Phoenix Coyotes

12

39-24-11

6-3-1

In nine games in March, netminder Ilya Bryzgalov has allowed just 20 goals

10

Boston Bruins

9

39-22-10

4-3-3

Bruins are 7-3-3 since acquiring Tomas Kaberle Feb. 18

11

Los Angeles Kings

8

40-26-6

5-3-2

Kings haven’t lost more than two in a row since mid-January

12

Anaheim Ducks

19

40-27-5

8-2-0

Dan Ellis, Ray Emery giving hot Ducks Jonas Hiller-style goaltending

13

Nashville Predators

17

38-25-10

6-2-2

In his past two games Pekka Rinne is 2-0-0 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .949 save percentage

14

Tampa Bay Lightning

11

39-22-11

2-4-4

Bolts have scored three or more goals just four times in their past 15 games (5-5-5)

15

New York Rangers

16

39-30-4

6-4-0

Blueshirts host Panthers, Sens this week before make-or-break four-game road trip that features showdowns with Bruins, Sabres and Flyers

16

Dallas Stars

14

38-25-9

5-2-3

Stars haven’t won more than two straight games since five-game win streak in late January

17

Buffalo Sabres

15

35-28-9

5-3-2

Only two of Sabres’ five remaining games in March are against teams currently in playoff position

18

Calgary Flames

13

37-27-10

5-4-1

Second-half surge is starting to fizzle out at precisely the wrong time

19

New Jersey Devils

18

34-34-4

7-3-0

Loss to Sens a serious blow to Devils’ faint playoff hopes

20

Toronto Maple Leafs

23

32-31-10

5-4-1

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)

21

Carolina Hurricanes

22

33-29-10

4-5-1

At most crucial time of year, no sense of urgency to Canes’ game

22

New York Islanders

25

28-33-12

5-1-4

Grabner, Isles setting a good tone for next season

23

Minnesota Wild

20

35-30-8

2-6-2

Wild’s 8-1 humiliation at the hands of Montreal shows this team not ready for next level

24

Florida Panthers

26

29-33-10

3-4-3

Panthers haven’t quit on Peter DeBoer, but next season will be full of growing pains

25

St. Louis Blues

24

32-31-9

4-6-0

Blues’ awful road record (12-19-5) was their undoing this season

26

Atlanta Thrashers

21

30-30-12

5-4-1

Depressing end to season for once-promising Thrashers

27

Columbus Blue Jackets

27

33-29-10

2-5-3

Will serious changes be coming for underwhelming Blue Jackets core?

28

Ottawa Senators

28

37-36-9

6-4-0

Sens doing a solid job of playing spoiler – beat desperate Thrashers once, Devils twice in March

29

Edmonton Oilers

29

23-39-10

3-5-2

Oilers freefalling to end their abysmal season

30

Colorado Avalanche

30

27-36-8

1-8-1

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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