Chris Kelly

Riding the Zamboni – Sunday, December 5th

Chicago 4 – Calgary 2

The news dominating this game is the injury to Patrick Kane, and rightfully so. That said, without Kane and Marian Hossa the Hawks still pull off the win. Dave Bolland scored twice and Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist while Brent Seabrook had three assists. Corey Crawford was solid again in goal for Chicago winning his sixth straight game. Crawford saved 24 shots. Jarome Iginla and Anton Babchuk each had a goal for Calgary. Odd fact: Every goal scored in the game was a power play goal. Stay out of the box next time, eh guys?

Ottawa 3 – NY Rangers 1

The Rangers seemed like they were on a roll for a while there, didn’t they? Sure enough, leave it to the Senators to put the kibosh on that. Sens grinder Chris Kelly potted a hat trick to lead the way for Ottawa and got outstanding work from Pascal Leclaire in goal stopping 25 shots in the victory. For New York, it was a letdown after winning four of their last five. They’ll get a chance at redemption on Thursday in Ottawa.

Philadelphia 3 – NY Islanders 2

When things are going bad, it always seems like you can’t catch a break. For the Isles they played a gutty game against Philly and lead 2-1 in the third period for a bit only to get the proverbial stomach punch in the end thanks to late goals by Andreas Nodl and Daniel Briere. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 28 shots in the win while Dwayne Roloson stopped 24 shots in the hard-luck loss. Putting things in perspective, the Isles have lost 17 of their last 18 games. Misery lives on Long Island.

St. Louis 3 – Vancouver 2

It may not have been exciting to watch, but the Blues got their act together in a big win over Vancouver and they’ve got Alex Steen to thank for it. Steen’s two goals, including the game-winner in the third helped lead the way for the Blues. Steen added an assist on Matt D’Agostini’s goal to finish the night with three points. That’s about as close to being first star of the night as you can be. Jaroslav Halak stopped just 21 shots to get the win while Roberto Luongo stopped 25 in the loss. Jannik Hansen and Kevin Bieksa scored for Vancouver.

Phoenix 3 – Anaheim 0

Ilya Bryzgalov was flat out the man tonight. Bryzgalov stopped 26 shots in getting his second shutout of the year. The Ducks, meanwhile, looked disorganized and lethargic throughout the game. Not exactly the kind of game you’d like to see when they get an important player like Joffrey Lupul back in the lineup after being off the ice for nearly a year. Taylor Pyatt, Shane Doan, and Lee Stempniak each had a goal a piece for the Coyotes to get the win. Jonas Hiller made 36 saves in the loss.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”