St. Louis Blues v Florida Panthers

New leader in St. Louis? Blues finally set to announce captain

After months of speculation amongst the St. Louis faithful, the Blues are finally set to announce their captain(s) for the 2011-12 season. As previously reported, the Blues organization has been contemplating either a traditional captain with two alternates or a “captain by committee” set-up that would rotate the “C” throughout the season. With the announcement only hours away, it seems like everyone is in agreement that David Backes is the man to lead the next era of Blues hockey.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has been polling Blues fans for their choice for the “C.” Given the choice between newly acquried veterans, youngsters with potential, and familiar faces, fans chose to go with the names that have been in St. Louis for a while.  Backes leads the way and it’s not even close:

“Backes was the overwhelming favorite to be the Blues’ next captain among the fans in a recent poll on There were 1,780 responses to the poll and Backes earned 76 percent of the support, followed by Jackman (8%), Pietrangelo (6%), Steen (5%), McDonald (4%) and other (2%).”

Andy Strickland shares the majority opinion that Backes would be the perfect fit:

“Having a Captain gives the Blues an identity and I can’t think of a better player to represent the franchise than Backes. He’s entering the prime years of his career as well as the first season of a brand new five-year extension. When you look around the division, Jonathan Toews, Rick Nash, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Shea Weber all do an outstanding job of representing their individual franchises. Backes would do the same in St. Louis.”

To Strickland’s point, Backes brings much more to the table than just goal scoring and ice vision. Some may remember in the weeks leading up to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver when Backes took it upon himself to fight the entire Canadian National team one game at a time. That’s just a sampling of the type of leadership he brings to any team. If the team is sluggish he’ll take the ice and deliver a few body checks to get his team going. If a teammate is taken out, he’ll drop the gloves to defend anyone on his team. Of course, if the Blues desperately need a goal, he’s pretty good in that department as well.

There’s an old adage that a team will take on the identity of its captain. If that’s the case, then Backes would be the ideal man for the job.

Becoming a first time captain is never an easy transition. Time and time again, anointed captains have explained afterwards that they had no idea how difficult the job could be. There’s added pressure deal with in the locker room, on the ice, and even in front of the media. Those are the little things that people don’t always see when a first-year captain slumps while they adjust to the added responsibility. But with former captains Jaime Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott added to the team this offseason, the veterans should be able to aid in the transition.

The only question left: the Blues are going to make Backes the captain, right?

Goalie nods: Bernier has a ‘huge’ opportunity to prove himself vs. Caps

Jonathan Bernier
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Jonathan Bernier hasn’t been very good in ’15-16, but he’ll have a great opportunity to right the ship on Saturday night.

Facing the Washington Capitals is never an easy task if you’re a goaltender, of course, but Bernier can’t afford to be picky with his chances.

The 27-year-old is still looking for his first win of the season, as he has an overall record of 0-7-1. His 3.17 goals-against-average and a .895 save percentage are just as bad as his record.

Starter James Reimer is out tonight after suffering an injury in practice and although Bernier probably can’t win the starting job with just one good game, a solid performance would go a long way.

He’ll go head-to-head with Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.


Cory Schneider will face the Habs for the second time in two nights. The Canadiens are expected to go with Dustin Tokarski, but that hasn’t been confirmed. Montreal beat New Jersey, 3-2, in a shootout on Friday.

-The Islanders have yet to confirm a starter, but they’ll likely go up against Ben Bishop on Saturday night.

-Expect Linus Ullmark to go up against Pekka Rinne when the Sabres and Predators clash in Nashville. Rinne is on a season-high four-game losing streak.

-The Oilers may turn to Anders Nilsson against the Penguins. Pittsburgh will decide between giving Marc-Andre Fleury two starts in two nights or going with Jeff Zatkoff.

-The Stars, like Pittsburgh, will have to decide if they want to give Antti Niemi a second game in two nights. They will be going up against Devan Dubnyk and the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.

Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start in Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Blues. He was solid in a 2-1 OT win over the Penguins on Friday night. The Blues will counter with starter Jake Allen.

-The Jets have yet to confirm a starter in Denver. They’ll be going up against Semyon Varlamov, who was pulled in Wednesday’s game against Ottawa after he allowed three goals on 15 shots.

Craig Anderson will look to win his fifth straight game when the Senators take on Arizona. The ‘Yotes still haven’t named a starter.

Jonas Hiller is likely to get the start against San Jose, while the Sharks will definitely be countering with starter Martin Jones. The Sharks goaltender is coming off a loss to the ‘Hawks, but previously won five in a row.

Scott Darling will put his 2-2-1 record on the line against the Kings. Jonathan Quick will probably be between the pipes for the Kings. Quick has a 7-15-1 record against the ‘Hawks in his career.

The verdict is in: Dubinsky gets one game for cross-checking Crosby


Brandon Dubinsky has been suspended one game for his cross-check to the back of Sidney Crosby‘s neck.

The incident took place during the second period of Friday’s game.

Crosby did head to the locker room after the play, but he was able to return.

When deciding on the number of games to give Dubinsky, here’s what the NHL took into account:

  1. Dubinsky delivered a clear cross-check.
  2. Dubinsky has been fined before, but never suspended.
  3. Crosby wasn’t seriously injured on the play.

“In this case, while Dubinsky’s cross-check isn’t overly violent or forceful, it is an intentional strike to an opponent’s head using his stick,” the NHL said in their explanation of the play. “This is not a case where the head contact was caused by a sudden movement by Crosby or by a stick riding up a player’s back or shoulders and making subsequent contact with the head.”

Click on the video at the top of the page to watch the NHL’s full explanation.

The Blue Jackets take on the Blues in St. Louis tonight.

Ready to Roll: Oilers activate Schultz from IR, send down Reinhart

Justin Schultz
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The Edmonton Oilers activated defenseman Justin Schultz off injured reserve and assigned Griffin Reinhart to the minors.

Schultz has missed the last 14 games because of a back injury, but he’ll suit up in Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The 25-year-old has one assist and a minus-6 rating in nine games in ’15-16.

Here’s his interview with Oilers TV from earlier today:

Reinhart was acquired in an off-season trade with the New York Islanders this summer.

The former fourth overall pick has no points and a minus-1 rating in 12 games with the Oilers.

The Leafs will be without Reimer on Saturday

James Reimer
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James Reimer (lower body) won’t be available to play in Saturday’s game against Washington.

Reimer was injured during a team practice earlier this week and although the injury didn’t appear to be serious, it will prevent him from suiting up in at least one game.

The Leafs originally thought that the 27-year-old would be good to go for this tilt, but head coach Mike Babcock said Reimer didn’t feel good enough to play.

Reimer’s emerged as the go-to-guy for the Maple Leafs this season and for good reason.

He has 7-3-4 record with a 2.07 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage in 15 games.

Another reason the Leafs have been counting on him so much is because Jonathan Bernier‘s been awful.

Bernier will get another opportunity to prove himself on Saturday night, but he faces a stiff test against Alex Ovechkin and company.

The 27-year-old has an 0-7-1 record with a 3.17 goals-against-average and a .895 save percentage in ’15-16.

In a corresponding move, the Leafs sent defenseman Scott Harrington to the minors and recalled goalie Garret Sparks.

Sparks was Toronto’s seventh round pick in 2011.

The 22-year-old has an 8-2-1 record with the Toronto Marlies this season.