St. Louis Blues v Philadelphia Flyers

Update: Turns out Brian Elliott is the starting goalie in St. Louis

Earlier today, we posted about St. Louis’ up-in-the-air goaltending situation heading into tonight’s game versus Calgary.

Turns out it’s no longer up in the air.

Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that Brian Elliott will get his fourth consecutive start, putting Jaroslav Halak — he of the four-year, $15 million deal (signed just last season!) — on the bench once again.

Halak hasn’t appeared in a game for St. Louis since Oct. 18.

“We know Jaro is a guy that we’re going to continue to lean on, he’s a good goaltender, and he’s going to get that chance to go back in. But right now, we’re making decisions based on what gives our team success tonight,” Payne said.

When asked of the decision to go with Elliot again was a no-brainer, Payne responded: “You want to get into my mind and talk about no-brainers? No, it’s just a decision based on performance and how the team is playing and what we feel he can give us tonight.”

Payne also added he’s not worried about Halak becoming upset over the situation because “he’s a pro.”

Look, this all might be much ado about nothing. A similar situation arose in Pittsburgh last year when Marc-Andre Fleury got off to a horrible start and Brent Johnson ended up carrying the mail into November. (There was one point last season where Johnson was 5-0 with a 1.16 GAA while Fleury was 1-5 with a 3.35.)

The biggest difference there? Fleury was clearly established as Pittsburgh’s No.1 goalie. He’d been a 60 games-plus starter for three years and backstopped the Pens to a Stanley Cup.

Halak doesn’t have that resume.

You also get the feeling Payne doesn’t have as much faith in Halak as Dan Bylsma had in Fleury. Bylsma was faced with an almost identical situation last season — in mid-October, Johnson had rattled off three straight wins against the Islanders, Flyers and Senators. But rather than ride his backup for a fourth straight contest, Bylsma came back with Fleury and the Pens won in overtime, 4-3 over Nashville.

To be fair, the Penguins had a little more leeway than the Blues. Whereas the Pens were a consistent playoff team, the Blues haven’t been there in two years. That makes it a little tougher to sit back and watch your goalie cost you points while he figures out his game.

Video: Beagle gets stick stuck in visor

Beagle
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Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.

Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below:

Stamkos close to game shape, but return might be weeks or months away

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) competes in the hardest shot competition at the NHL hockey All-Star game skills competition Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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Steve Stamkos began to practice again on Tuesday and he was back out there on Wednesday and Thursday, which some might interpret as him being close to returning. It seems premature to say that definitively.

“It could be weeks. It could be months,” Stamkos said of his timetable, per ESPN. “That’s the tough part.”

The problem isn’t getting back into game shape after undergoing vascular surgery in early April. He feels he’s already close to reaching that objective. The issue is that Stamkos is on blood thinners, which prevents him from taking any contact. It remains to be seen how long he’ll be on blood thinners.

For what it’s worth, Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy underwent the same surgery and was out for two months and the original timetable provided on April 4 for Stamkos was one-to-three months. So based on that, it sounds like it would be surprising if he returned anytime soon.

Bergeron, Kesler, Kopitar named Selke finalists

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron celebrates after scoring against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Will Patrice Bergeron join Bob Gainey as the only players to have ever won the Selke Trophy four times?

That’s a distinct possibility after the Bruins center was named as a finalist along with Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler and Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar.

The Selke Trophy honors the league’s top defensive forward and for three of the last four years, that distinction has gone to Bergeron. However, Kesler and Kopitar have been popular with the voters of this award as well.

Kopitar has finished second in the voting in each of the previous two campaigns while Kesler won back in 2011, though he finished outside of the top-five in each of the last three years prior to the 2015-16 campaign.

Among the trio, Kesler excelled this season on the draw with a 58.5% success rate, which was good for second in the league among forwards who took at least 200 faceoffs. Bergeron was up there too, winning 57.1% of his draws while Kopitar posted a 53.5%. Meanwhile, Bergeron ranked seventh in the NHL with 67 takeaways compared to Kesler’s 39 and Kopitar’s 43. Where Kopitar stood out was in plus/minus as he finished second in the league at plus-34. Kesler was plus-five and Bergeron was plus-12.

Kopitar similarly led the trio with a 57.4% Corsi For versus Bergeron’s 55.9% and Kesler’s 52.9%.

Capitals get Orpik back for series opener

Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik (44) celebrates his goal with teammates on the bench during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Washington. The Capitals won 4-3. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
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Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik missed half of Washington’s first round series, but he’s back in time for the opener against his former team.

Orpik last played on April 18 and was regarded as questionable going into tonight’s contest against Pittsburgh. He’s expected to be paired with John Carlson throughout the contest.

Washington’s other projected pairings are Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen as well as Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt.

Orpik was limited to 41 games during the 2015-16 regular season, but when he did play he averaged 19:48 minutes per contest. He also recorded 125 hits and 102 blocked shots despite missing half the season. The 35-year-old blueliner got his start with Pittsburgh and played in 703 regular season contests with them and an additional 92 postseason contests. This is his second season with Washington.