Chris Stewart

Riding the Zamboni – Saturday, February 19th

St Louis 9, Anaheim 3

The game actually started out pretty well for the Ducks as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Unfortunately for Randy Carlyle’s crew, they were blasted 9-1 over the rest of the game. In their two visits to the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, the Ducks have now been outscored 14-4. One positive the Ducks could take from the game is that they only gave up 25 shots on goal. Of course, the negative is that they couldn’t find a goalie to stop any of them.

The Blues must have been happy about their newly reconstructed team’s ability to fill up the net. Their current 3-game winning streak finds them only 5 points out of the final playoff spot with games-in-hand on every single team they’re chasing. Newcomers Chris Stewart (2 goals) and Kevin Shattenkirk (1 assist) are supposed to help the team improve on their 26th ranked offense. Scoring 9 goals in a game is a good start.

Phoenix 3, Nashville 2

The Coyotes walked into Bridgestone Arena, scored a couple of quick goals in the 2nd period, and held on to earn their 7th win in a row. The close nature of the game shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise as this is their 6th one-goal victory during their recent run. But if you ask Dave Tippett, his Coyotes are playing exactly the type of style they need to if they want to be successful.

The Predators bench was also happy with the effort, if not with the result. But more important than the scoreboard is the status of their Olympic defenseman Ryan Suter. He left the ice at the end of the 2nd period with an undisclosed “upper body injury” and did not return to the ice. That’s a loss that could hurt much more than a simple L in the standings.

San Jose 4, Colorado 0

If the St. Louis Blues showed us how well the immediate returns of a blockbuster deal can be, the Colorado Avalanche showed us that things don’t always turn around so quickly. Fresh off making headlines by trading their best power forward and best young defenseman, the Avs fell flat on their faces on the ice.

It was also the first game for a new Sharks acquisition, as well: Ian White. But while fans might have been watching to see how White would fit in, it was Devin Setoguchi and his hat trick that stole the show.

Vancouver 5, Dallas 2

There were brief technical difficulties during the Stars’ broadcast. Clearly, they had nothing to do with the Canucks offense. The league’s #1 team continued to steamroll everyone in their path even though they’re playing with a Manitoba Moose defensive corps. At this rate, the NHL might want to think about having the Canucks play with 4 players at a time.

The game wasn’t as ugly as the final score would suggest. The Canucks held a slim 3-2 lead with 5 minutes to go, but scored two quick goals to blow it open at the end. The loss dropped the Stars to 1-7-1 since the All-Star break.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.