Daniel Winnik

Here are 10 stats you may find interesting


Not a whole lot of news to pass along, so here are some stats to chew on…

1. Anaheim’s Daniel Winnik has five goals in the Ducks’ first four games. Even more impressively, all five have been scored even strength. Winnik had five goals for Colorado last season…in 63 games.

2. Andrei Markov has scored the game-winning goal in each of Montreal’s three victories. Sometimes people forget how good Markov, 34, was before all his injury problems. In 2008-09, he had 64 points in 78 games. If he can stay healthy, the Habs have a shot at the playoffs.

3. Ottawa’s Craig Anderson leads all NHL goalies with a .975 save percentage. The 31-year-old has stopped all but three of the 119 shots he’s faced in four games.

4. Alex Ovechkin has spent a league-high 33:29 on the power play…and he only has one goal. In 2007-08, Ovechkin led the NHL with 22 power-play goals.

5. Drew Doughty has yet to register his first point of the season, despite playing almost 30 minutes per game in the Kings’ first five contests. Offense was an issue for the 23-year-old last year as well, when he tallied just 36 points, significantly fewer than the 59 he registered in 2008-09. Granted, he turned it around during the playoffs, racking up 16 points in 20 games on the way to winning the Stanley Cup. And to be fair to Doughty, much of a defenseman’s point total is related to the effectiveness of the forwards when they get the puck. The Kings have just 10 goals so far.

6. The Florida Panthers (1-4-0) have a minus-11 goal differential, the worst in the NHL. After beating Carolina, 5-1, in their first game of the season, the Panthers have lost four in a row by a combined score of 18-3. It’s worth noting Florida’s goal differential last season was minus-24, by far the worst of the 16 playoff teams.

7. The Canucks have blown a pair of 2-0 leads in their first six games. Last Sunday, they took a 2-0 lead on Edmonton and lost 3-2 in a shootout. Last night, the exact same thing happened in Los Angeles. Oh, and both times Roberto Luongo was in goal. (Update: This isn’t a criticism of Luongo, who was outstanding against the Kings. Just thought I’d point it out, given the guy’s made two starts this year and the Canucks have blown 2-0 leads in both.)

8. Only one team has yet to surrender a power-play goal, and that’s the Boston Bruins, who are a perfect 23-for-23 on the penalty kill. In a partially related story, the B’s haven’t lost in regulation yet.

9. Toronto’s Phil Kessel has 24 shots and zero goals. That’s the most shots of any player without scoring. Next in that category is Jarome Iginla, who’s taken 19 shots without any going in.

10. The Blues’ Kevin Shattenkirk leads all NHL defensemen with eight points, all of them assists. Avalanche GM Greg Sherman must be so happy for him.

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.”