The St. Louis Blues have fired head coach Davis Payne and hired Ken Hitchcock as his replacement.
The coaching change can’t be considered a huge surprise as the talented Blues (6-7-0) have underachieved early this season. Payne has been behind the bench in St. Louis since taking over from Andy Murray halfway through the 2009-10 campaign. Payne failed to lead the Blues to the playoffs in either season, though 2010-11 was his only full one in charge.
The hiring of Hitchcock is more of a surprise as he was reportedly close to replacing Scott Arniel in Columbus. The St. Louis job will surely give the veteran coach a better chance to make the playoffs come April. In fact, you have to wonder if he had a choice between the two jobs. You also have to wonder if this is the reason Arniel is still employed after last night’s embarrassing loss in Philadelphia. Feel free to speculate on that.
Hitchcock has coached three NHL teams – Dallas, Philadelphia and Columbus – winning the 1999 Stanley Cup with the Stars. He’s not exactly known as a players’ coach, which might suggest Blues GM Doug Armstrong believes his young team needs a taskmaster in charge.
Hitchcock and Armstrong have a history together; the latter was the assistant general manager with the Stars when they won the Cup.
Devan Dubnyk already showed signs of having a hot start to 2016-17, but Thursday made that point abundantly clear.
For the second straight game, Dubnyk generated a shutout, with the Minnesota Wild beating the Buffalo Sabres 4-0 in this instance.
It’s not as if Dubnyk is just leisurely turning aside the occasional chance, either; he made 38 saves to blank Buffalo and needed to stop 65 shots on goal considering the 27 he turned aside in a 5-0 win vs. Boston.
Ryan Suter said that Dubnyk bailed his teammates out during the second period, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo reports.
He’s now allowed just 10 goals in six games so far in 2016-17, with Taylor Hall‘s overtime-winner being the last shot to beat him. That came on Sunday:
More often than not, Dubnyk’s been making those saves so far in this young season.
There are plenty of differences between Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, including obvious things like one being from Russia and the other from Finland.
Still, there are moments when Laine inspires comparisons to his idol, even this early in his rookie season.
Thursday presented one of those moments. It wasn’t just that Laine fired a 3-0 goal home for the Winnipeg Jets against the Dallas Stars with such moxie; it was also that he showed some swagger with a celebration afterward.
This GIF captures the moment brilliantly, while you can also watch the goal in video form.
Sure, there will be some grumbles from the “act like you’ve been here before” crowd, but this is brilliant stuff for the rest of us.
Early this season, Dmitry Orlov delighted onlookers and angered Matt Duchene with a mind-blowing, throwback hip check. People really seemed to enjoy it.
While you’d struggle to top that hit, Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier must have sensed the void in checks that almost seem to flip opponents, doing so against Anthony Duclair during Thursday’s contest.
Rate this as you will:
Want another look at the Orlov one for comparison’s sake or to chuckle in disbelief? Why not:
As much as this Tampa Bay Lightning – Montreal Canadiens means right now, losing Nikita Kucherov would hang a dark cloud over any result for the Bolts.
There hasn’t been an update yet regarding whether Kucherov is actually injured – or if this is a minor vs. significant issue – but there are concerns after he fell into the boards during tonight’s game.
You can see the fall in video form above the headline and also in this GIF from Stephanie Hail: