jakeallengetty

Hitchcock: Allen becoming a ‘prime-time player’ for Blues

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If Ken Hitchcock’s history is any indication, St. Louis goalie Jake Allen might be on the verge of something big.

Allen, the 22-year-old rookie netminder, has taken his opportunity to move ahead of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott in the Blues’ pecking order with aplomb, going 8-1-0 with a .920 save percentage and 2.19 GAA.

The development has impressed Hitchcock, but hasn’t come as a huge surprise.

“He’s becoming a prime-time player,” Hitchcock told the Belleville News-Democrat on Tuesday. “We expected this when we drafted him and we expected this when he matured.”

The Blues took Allen in the second round (34th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the fourth goalie taken behind Chet Pickard, Thomas McCollum and Jakob Markstrom.

Hitchcock says teams can’t afford to miss on goalies selected that high (“you can’t make a mistake on those,” he said. “Those have to be prime-time players,”) and added that Allen’s situation in St. Louis reminded him of similar scenarios in Columbus and Dallas.

More, from the News-Democrat:

“This is a very similar story,” Hitchcock said. “Pascal [Leclaire] had a heck of a year the year before, a lot of shutouts, played great and then got hurt. We were thinking of playing Steve [Mason] 15 to 20 games and probably in the minors.

“Then when Passer got hurt, [Mason] ended up playing all the games.”

An injury to Dallas veteran goalie Ed Belfour gave [Marty] Turco his first chance.

“Eddie got hurt and Marty came in and played great and Marty’s career took off from there, so I’ve gone through this twice to be honest with you,” Hitchcock said. “This is very familiar ground.”

The Mason comparison is interesting because Allen could replicate some of the Columbus netminder’s success.

Mason was nominated for the Vezina and won the Calder in 2009. While Allen’s a long shot for a Vezina nod, he currently leads all rookie goalies in every significant statistical category.

Should he stay hot and carry St. Louis into the playoffs, there’s no telling what hardware will come his way.

Watch the Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp tribute video

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Over the years, the Chicago Blackhawks have been forced to let some important players leave to keep their core together, which ultimately meant parting ways with Patrick Sharp.

The talented winger now wears a Dallas Stars jersey, so Blackhawks fans must face the reality of watching Sharp ply his trade for a formidable Central Division opponent.

Even if that might feel awkward, Blackhawks fans gave Sharp (and Johnny Oduya) a warm reception in Chicago on Thursday.

CSNChicago.com provides video of that ovation, which you can see in the clip above.

The Stars currently lead the Blackhawks 4-2, thanks in large part to Patrick … Eaves.

Wild must overcome Alex Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick

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Death, taxes and Alex Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy.

OK, the third thing on that list isn’t technically inevitable. It just feels that way lately in the NHL.

It’s unclear if the Washington Capitals can hold on against the Minnesota Wild, but we know for certain that Ovechkin already has a hat trick, the 14th of his high-scoring career.

This propels Ovechkin to the goals lead as of this writing, as he already has 34. As impressive as Patrick Kane has been, No. 8 is heating up, and may just edge No. 88 if Ovechkin can remain healthy.

One has to feel a little sympathy for the struggling Wild. They played well but lost against the Dallas Stars earlier this week and now must deal with Ovechkin and the just-as-hot Capitals.

Bylsma believes league will look at Gudas’ hit on Catenacci

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Rugged Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas may get in trouble with the league once again.

At least, it will be that way if Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has his way regarding Gudas’ five-minute charging major hit on Daniel Catenacci.

“I think there’s no question it’s head hit,” Bylsma said, according to the Buffalo News’ John Vogl. ” … I know the league will look at that hit and deal with it.”

As far as the injury portion of possible suspension considerations go:

Marcus Foligno‘s analysis of Gudas was … well just check it out.

The Flyers ended up winning 5-1. Gudas was a busy man overall, racking up 17 penalty minutes.

Fight video: Patrice Bergeron vs. Blake Wheeler (seriously)

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Regular Selke winner Patrice Bergeron can do it all on the ice, it seems. Apparently that means he’ll even drop the gloves.

That was the unlikely scene during Thursday’s Boston Bruins – Winnipeg Jets skirmish, as Bergeron fought fellow finesse forward Blake Wheeler.

Perhaps unusual feisty behavior was just in the air, as Tyler Myers squared off with Matt Beleskey.

(Not as unlikely, but still.)