NHL Notes: Bryzgalov 'close' to returning

NHL Notes: Bryzgalov 'close' to returning
December 13, 2013, 8:15 pm
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Ilya Bryzgalov has 2.12 goals against average and a .939 save percentage with the Oilers. (USA Today Images)

When the Oilers signed Ilya Bryzgalov on Nov. 8, they had hoped he would solidify the team's goaltending position.

Then, after appearing in four games with the Oilers, Bryzgalov suffered a concussion in a 2-1 win over the Stars in Dallas on Dec. 1 and hasn't played since.

The good news for Edmonton? He's inching closer to returning to game action.

According to ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun (via ProHockeyTalk), Edmonton head coach Dallas Eakins said the former Flyers goalie is "close" to returning and has one more hurdle to jump.

The 33-year-old has a .939 save percentage and a 2.12 goals against average in four games (three starts) with the Oilers.

Edmonton (11-19-3) has struggled this season and find itself near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. For a team with so much promise, so many high first-round picks, and a future that appeared to be on the rise, this season has been a huge step backward.

Devan Dubynk, who posted a 2.57 GAA and a .920 save percentage last season, has struggled this year. The 27-year-old has a 3.36 GAA and a .890 save percentage this year.

But it's not entirely his fault. The Oilers lead the league in giveaways -- 134 -- entering Friday night. There's not much any goalie can do when the defense has been as bad as Edmonton's has this season.

Jets: Kane's return still in question
Trouble brewing in Winnipeg.

Jets winger Evander Kane has been cleared for contact, and practiced with the team on Friday, but his return is still in question, at least according to him.

"We're not going down that road again," Kane told the Winnipeg Sun (via ProHockeyTalk).

That road is guessing when he'll return to the ice. Back in the November, the 22-year-old had a lower-body injury which he predicted his return only for head coach Claude Noel to hold him out longer than Kane's prediction, leading Kane to believe he was a healthy scratch.

Will Kane play in the Jets' game Saturday afternoon against Dallas? Noel wasn't ready to answer that question.

"Normally we go a little longer for that,” Noel said. “Nothing’s changed. You want to try set a player up to succeed. And I’m not sure I feel comfortable with that right now."

If Kane sits out Saturday's game it will be his sixth straight game out of action. In 26 games this season, Kane has seven goals and seven assists for Winnipeg. He has been subject of trade rumors throughout the season, as tension reportedly has grown between him and the club.

Red Wings: Howard out 2-4 weeks
The next month will serve as a huge test for the Detroit Red Wings.

No. 1 goalie Jimmy Howard will miss the next two to four weeks with a Grade 1 MCL sprain, according to Wings GM Ken Holland (via ProHockeyTalk).

Howard has a 6-8-7 record in 21 games this season, with a 2.66 GAA and .910 save percentage. The 29-year-old has posted two shutouts, and will be considered for the U.S. team for the Sochi Olympics in February.

The Red Wings (15-9-9) entered Friday in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and trail the Bruins -- who have 46 points -- for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Backup Jonas Gustavsson will take over as the Wings' starter while Howard sits out. Gustavsson, 29, has been strong for Detroit this season. He has a 8-1-2 record with a 1.93 GAA and a .933 save percentage.