Completing one of the most remarkable single-season turnarounds in recent memory, Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has been named the NHL’s first star for the month of March.
To give you an idea of just how remarkable his turnaround has been…
Bryzgalov in December: 6-3-1, 3.20 GAA, .878 save percentage, zero shutouts.
Bryzgalov in March: 10-2-1, 1.43 GAA, .947 save percentage, four shutouts.
March also saw Bryzgalov set a franchise record 249:43 shutout streak, helping the Flyers move to within one point of Pittsburgh for fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Second star of the month went to Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin. He notched 23 points in 15 games (11G-12A), recording points in 12 of 15 games while putting up seven multi-point efforts. This is Malkin’s eighth “star” award this season — he received five stars of the week (two firsts, two thirds and a second) and was named first star in December and second in January.
So yeah, just give him the Hart Trophy already.
March’s third star went to Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller. He compiled a 10-3-2 record with a 2.17 GAA and .930 save percentage (with two shutouts) as the Sabres rallied to pull within two points of eighth in the Eastern Conference. Miller’s biggest accomplishment was going 10 straight games without suffering a regulation defeat, a big reason why Buffalo climbed from the Eastern basement to battle for a playoff spot.
After moving up the league’s scoring leaderboard and keeping the Sidney Crosby-less Penguins among the Eastern Conference’s elite, Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin was named the NHL’s first star for December.
It was a month to remember for the 25-year-old Russian. He finished with 20 points in 13 games and was on a tear during Pittsburgh’s four-game winning streak late in the month, posting three goals and eight assists. With Crosby out, Malkin assumed a bigger on-ice role and logged some huge ice time — last time out against New Jersey, he played just a shade under 24 minutes.
Second star went to Tampa Bay sniper Steve Stamkos (who’s tied for fifth in league scorng with Malkin.) Stamkos scored 10 goals in December to move atop the NHL leaderboard — during Tampa’s current three-game winning streak, Stamkos has scored six times and posted the game-winning tallies against the Flyers and Hurricanes.
Third star went to Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin, who currently leads the NHL with 46 points. Sedin was the catalyst for Vancouver’s 10-4-1 December record — while he didn’t score a ton of goals (two) he did register an eye-popping 20 assists. Perhaps most impressively, Sedin registered an assist in all but two of Vancouver’s 15 games this month — that includes six multi-assist outings and a trio of three-assist efforts.
Millions of men woke up this morning, looked at themselves in the mirror, whipped out the razor and bid adieu to their dusters, signifying that — yes indeed — Movember is now over.
To celebrate, the National Hockey League announced that Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas was named Player of the Month.
(Appropriate, given the mask Thomas rocked throughout Movember.)
Thomas won all nine of his starts, which included three shutouts — one against Toronto, then two back-to-back against the Isles and Habs. His save percentage for the month was .941, topping his seemingly untoppable .938 from a season ago (an NHL record.) Most impressive, though, was the role he played in Boston’s amazing turnaround. The Bruins started November dead last in the Northeast Division at 4-7-0.
Today, they’re in first place at 15-7-1.
Second star of the month went to Chicago’s Jonathan Toews. Captain Serious pushed the Blackhawks to a first-place tie with Detroit in the Central Division with a huge effort — nine goals and 18 points, including a late-month evisceration of California. He had 2G3A-5PTS in a win over the Ducks on Nov. 25, then followed that up with the game-winning goal 24 hours later against Los Angeles.
Third star went to Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul. He registered at least a point in 12 of the Leafs’ 14 November games and saved his best performance for one of the biggest games — three assists in a 7-1 drubbing of the Washington Capitals. Lupul now has 30 points on the year, second-most in the NHL and just two back of the leader — teammate Phil Kessel.
Of note, Kessel was the NHL’s Player of the Month for October.