Brendan Shanahan

PHT Oddsmaker: Let’s gamble on the NHL


PHT Oddsmaker will be a regular feature where we set pretend odds and pretend to gamble on them. If you’d like to bet real money, meet us in the alley and we’ll talk.

Longest suspension to be handed out during the 2011-12 regular season (Over/under 8.5 games)

In other words, will any player do something worse in the eyes of the NHL than James Wisniewski did to Cal Clutterbuck in the preseason? There have been six suspensions doled out since the regular season started, none for more than five games. I also can’t help but wonder, if Wisniewski hit Clutterbuck now instead of then, would he still get eight games? Clearly Brendan Shanahan wanted to let everyone know there was a new sheriff in town when he took over, and he certainly got everyone’s attention. It’s different now. The players know he’s not messing around. I’ll take the under here, though I hate the thought of underestimating the potential for certain hockey players to do really stupid stuff. Is Trevor Gillies in the NHL anymore?

Which player will finish with more points? Teemu Selanne (-110) versus Jaromir Jagr (-110)

Selanne has 15 points in 17 games; Jagr’s got 17 in 17. This should be a close race, but I’ll take Selanne. The Ducks are desperate for scoring and even more desperate for wins. They can’t afford to rest anyone who can put the puck in the net, even if he’s 41. On the other hand, I can see the Flyers being extra careful with Jagr, 39, as the 82-game season progresses. Remember, the KHL only plays a 56-game schedule, plus the playoffs. The most games Jagr’s played in the last three years is 64. The Flyers will want him fresh for April, and since they already score lots of goals, dialing back his ice-time shouldn’t be a problem.

Odds the Minnesota Wild make the playoffs (+175)

Heading into tonight’s action, Minnesota (10-5-3) was four points clear of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. It’s just hard to believe it can stay that way. Let’s break it down. Here are the teams I’m fairly confident will make the playoffs in the West: Chicago, Detroit, San Jose and Vancouver. After those four, it’d be unfair to count out Nashville and Phoenix considering what they’ve done the past few seasons. Tough to picture Los Angeles failing to qualify. St. Louis is a talented team that’s starting to roll with Ken Hitchcock behind the bench. That’s eight teams right there, and I haven’t even mentioned Dallas, though the Stars haven’t looked very good lately. Even at those odds, I’ll have to pass on the Wild.

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.”