Branson Prust #8 of the Montreal Canadiens scores a goal against Justin Peters #35 of the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period at PNC Arena on March 7, 2013 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
(March 6, 2013 - Source: Grant Halverson/Getty Images North America)

Does Carolina need a goalie before it’s too late?


Nothing has gone right for the Carolina Hurricanes lately. With goaltenders Cam Ward and Dan Ellis nursing injuries, the Hurricanes have been forced to start Justin Peters in back-to-back games.

Peters, who was playing in his 35th career NHL contests, allowed four goals on 34 shots in Carolina’s seventh straight loss on Thursday.

“The bottom line is this: we didn’t get the saves,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller told “We didn’t get the saves at the right time and it cost us.”

Ellis (leg) might be back in the not too distant future, but Cam Ward is likely still weeks away from returning from a sprained MCL. There’s no guarantee Ward will even return this season, but even if he does, it might be too late for the Hurricanes’ playoff chances.

At the moment, they’re three points shy of eighth place, so all hope isn’t lost. With that in mind, wouldn’t it make sense for the Hurricanes to add some short-term depth to their goaltending situation?

Trading for a veteran netminder on the final season of his contract could prove to be the difference between Carolina making and missing the postseason. One prime candidate is 40-year-old Nikolai Khabibulin.

Devan Dubnyk has firmly established himself as the Edmonton Oilers’ starting goaltender at this point, but Khabibulin has a 2.30 GAA and .930 save percentage in eight games this season. He could provide the Hurricanes with some much-needed relief.

When Ellis returns, the two netminders could split the starting duties and Khabibulin would serve as an insurance policy in the playoffs should Carolina get that far.

The Hurricanes might have some competition for Khabibulin though. The Toronto Maple Leafs, for example, are reportedly interested in adding a veteran goaltender, although they might ultimately decide on a more long-term option.

The Hurricanes only have a matter of days to decide before the April 3 deadline, and the way they’ve been playing lately, you could argue they need to act immediately.

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.”