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Helene Elliott's NHL plus/minus ratings

The Dallas Stars are in playoff contention in the West after wins over the Ducks, Kings, Sharks and Predators. Philadelphia's Ilya Bryzgalov seems to have trouble remaining alert.

April 14, 2013|By Helene Elliott
  • Dallas left wing Antoine Roussel and Nashville defenseman Victor Bartley battle for position in the third period of a game on Friday that the Stars won, 5-2.
Dallas left wing Antoine Roussel and Nashville defenseman Victor Bartley… (Mark Humphrey / Associated…)

Pluses

Dallas Coach Glen Gulutzan is keeping the Stars in playoff contention in the West — and might have saved his job — with wins over the Ducks, Kings, San Jose Sharks (twice) and Nashville Predators. They're younger and grittier since they traded Brenden Morrow, Derek Roy and Jaromir Jagr and they've banded together. Player to watch: right wing Alex Chiasson, who has six goals and seven points in six games since his post-trade deadline promotion.

The New York Islanders' impressive push has them in position to earn their first playoff berth since 2007. They had won three straight games and eight of 10 before losing a terrific game to the New York Rangers in overtime Saturday, and they have a better road record (12-5-2) than home record (9-11-3). Goalie Evgeni Nabokov provides stability and John Tavares (24 goals) leads a talented, young group of forwards.

The race for the Rocket Richard trophy (most goals) has tightened. Washington's Alexander Ovechkin took the lead Saturday at 27, passing Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos as each vies for a third goal-scoring title. Tavares and Kings forward Jeff Carter (24) aren't far behind. But Stamkos' Lightning won't make the playoffs, while Ovechkin's spree has helped launch the Capitals toward the postseason.

Minuses

Did Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov snooze through a team meeting? The Philadelphia Daily News cited multiple sources saying Bryzgalov dozed off and "definitely had his eyes closed" during a meeting. Bryzgalov — or should that be Bryzzzgalov? — denied it, but he also was seen on TV sitting on the bench during a game with his eyes closed. For $51 million over nine years he should be able to stay awake. The Flyers' many injuries have contributed heavily to their struggles, but their decades-long search for reliable goaltending defies comprehension.

After falling, 3-0, to Detroit on Sunday, the Predators have lost six straight games and nine of 10 and have scored only six goals in six games since the trading deadline. But that's still not as bad as the defending East champion New Jersey Devils, who are in a 0-5-4 slump and six points behind the eighth-place Rangers.

The Minnesota Wild, which was battling the Vancouver Canucks for the Northwest lead a few weeks ago, is now clinging to a top-eight spot in the West. The Wild, which hasn't made the playoffs since 2008, is 1-5-1 in April and has scored only eight goals in those games.

helene.elliott@latimes.com

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