Video: Ilya Bryzgalov’s “save of the playoffs” entry


Zombies are pretty played out, but it’s hard not to see a little bit of the plot devices in decaying flesh when you watch the Philadelphia Flyers right now. The Pittsburgh Penguins seemingly keep beating the Flyers down, yet like a reanimated corpse or a pesky horror movie villain, Philly keeps getting up. That spirit might be best embodied by Ilya Bryzgalov; his numbers are likely to end up hideous by the end of this series despite making breathtaking saves like these:

The Flyers just ended the second period with a 4-4 goal, so perhaps Bryzgalov is becoming the equivalent of a wacky-but-lovable closing pitcher. It seems like every outing is a heart attack waiting to happen, yet he occasionally wins a duel that reminds us why he received the big contract.

Of course, Peter Laviolette could easily start the third with Sergei Bobrovsky in net, so that bigger point might be a moot one. Either way, it’s a pretty amazing save.

From the look of things, he’ll need to make a few more for Philly to pull off another impressive comeback win.

Patrick Kane, Pavel Datsyuk engage in shootout art contest


The shootout is a sporting occurrence that, to many, divides hardcore hockey fans from casual ones.* Yet let’s make this much clear: only the crankiest purists sat with their arms folded when Pavel Datsyuk and Patrick Kane provided a round of “Anything you can do, I can do better” in what would eventually be a 3-2 win for the Chicago Blackhawks.

(Of course, the Detroit Red Wings got the last laugh/be-careful-what-you-wish-for draw of the Nashville Predators by squeaking into OT.)

First, check out video of Datsyuk’s “failed” attempt – seriously, it’s hard for me to call that a failure – which set the stage for Kane’s response:

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If you were watching the game live, you were probably thinking the same thing: what will Kane have up his sleeve after that brilliant bit of stick work? Delightfully enough, Kane was up to the task, as you can see from his successful and spellbinding response below:

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It’s kind of hard to totally despise the “skills competition” when it puts that kind of skill on display, isn’t it?

* – I don’t think it’s that simple, but you could make the argument.

Video: Kari Lehtonen’s brilliant (but futile) save

Some might say that the Dallas Stars will go as far as Kari Lehtonen takes them. I’d upgrade the drama of that statement to how far he can drag them.

The fantastic Finnish netminder made an outstanding overtime save on Thomas Vanek to give the Stars a shot at a shootout win but the Buffalo Sabres ultimately prevailed 3-2 (SO). Bask in his glory, even if it ultimately only delayed the inevitable:

That win keeps Buffalo’s flimsy playoff hopes alive while the Stars are alone in ninth place at 59 points with a game in hand on the eighth-place Phoenix Coyotes (who have 60).

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner for the video.)

Mike Smith’s jaw-dropping save on Marian Gaborik


Considering the vast jump in Mike Smith’s performance in Phoenix after flailing away in Tampa Bay – not to mention similar contrasts for Ilya Bryzgalov now that he’s outside the Coyotes cocoon – many probably attribute it all to Dave Tippett’s defensive system. Big picture-wise, that might be partially true (I’ll allow brainy stats bloggers tackle that one), but “Smitty” has his flashes of brilliance. He faced the unenviable task of stopping Marian Gaborik on a penalty shot and only produced one of the best saves of the season:

Sure, the New York Rangers topped the Coyotes in the shootout minutes later to wrap up their fifth consecutive win, but that’s still a beauty.

Here are the full highlights:

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Brodeur shuts down Ovechkin in shootout showdown


The Washington Capitals played poorly enough to get called out by goalie Michal Neuvirth tonight, but despite falling behind 3-0 and looking listless, the Caps got to a shootout against the New Jersey Devils. The Devils are devilishly efficient in the skills competition, though, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they took the 4-3 win.

The eye-brow raising moment came when Martin Brodeur stoned Alex Ovechkin during that shootout, though. Peter DeBoer made a “showdown at the OK Corral” reference regarding that memorable scene – and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t making a stealth dig about how both stars have been producing such mediocre work so far this season.