Alex Pietrangelo, Tyson Strachan make the cut for the St. Louis Blues

alexpmakestheblues.jpgThe St. Louis Blues decided to keep top prospect Alex Pietrangelo and Tyson Strachan on their NHL roster, according to Jeremy Rutherford. Defenseman Ian Cole and forward Nicholas Drazenovic were sent down to the AHL to make space for the two players.

Rutherford captured the reactions of both Pietrangelo and Strachan. First, Pietrangelo discusses the situation with Rutherford.

Here is Pietrangelo’s reaction to making the team: “It’s a relief. It’s exciting. It’ll probably hit me more on Saturday during the home opener, if I’m playing. But it’s exciting. I’ve enjoyed the process here … it’s been a pretty good competition. We’ve been pushing each other pretty good, the guys that have been sticking around. It’s a relief, that’s probably the best way to put it. But at the same time it’s only a start right? There’s guys breathing down your neck, trying to get the same spot. You’ve just got to keep playing, keep pushing forward. They said the same thing I’m saying right now . . . it’s just a start and you’ve got to just keep pushing forward.”

On losing some of the pressure and advancing his game: “I’m feeling a lot more confident these past couple of days. I’ve got to go out there Thursday and Friday and have a good practice and Saturday is a big start to the season.”

Useless NHL ’11 note: if you’re doing a fantasy draft in Be a GM Mode, draft Pietrangelo. He turns into a star in about three or four years. Surely, there is some real-life relevance to Pietrangelo too, but for me he’s still one of those “awesome prospects who lives larger in video games at this point” type guys. (Jay Bouwmeester used to be that guy. Now he’s the fast defenseman who gets paid a ton of money.)

Next, Rutherford catches up with Strachan.

Here is Strachan’s reaction to making the team: “They let me know that I’m starting the season and I made the top seven and I’ll be competing for playing time. It’s stressful to get the call when they say ‘Meet with Davis (Payne)” because over the last two years, I’ve had those meetings and afterwards I was making the three-hour drive (to Peoria). It’s hard to explain. I just worked really hard and I’m excited to have the opportunity.”

So, there you go. The Blues seem like they could be a sneaky-good team next season, but it will require solid play from many young skaters. If Pietrangelo and/or Strachan work out, that would increase the odds of St. Louis succeeding substantially.

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    Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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    The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

    “Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

    “That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

    More on the statue from the Devils:

    The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

    Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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    The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

    Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

    The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

    Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

    “It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

    “You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

    “We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

    The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

    Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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    In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

    After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

    The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

    — He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

    — From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

    — Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

    He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

    Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

    The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

    The Islanders also have a game in hand.

    Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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    The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

    As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

    Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

    In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.