Doug Armstrong AP

Blues GM Armstrong on playoff matchups: ‘I don’t want to play Chicago’


On Tuesday, the St. Louis Blues punched their ticket to a second straight playoff appearance with a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

That led to GM Doug Armstrong being asked about possible first-round opponents — to which he offered up a rather interesting response.

“I don’t want to play Chicago right now,” he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Other than that, we’re going to be ready to take on whoever has to come.

“Chicago is the one team that from start to finish has put a three-month distance between itself and the rest of the pack. Anything else in the conference is nothing more than a mild upset.”

Based on how this season has gone, it’s not surprising Armstrong wants to avoid the ‘Hawks.

The Blues are just 1-3-0 against Chicago, with their lone victory coming via the shootout (the two teams will play each other once more in the season finale on Saturday.)

The ‘Hawks have also outscored the Blues 11-5 and shut them out twice.

Despite this, it’s kind of strange to hear a GM say (publicly) that he wants to avoid a particular team.

But it’s also been a strange year for St. Louis.

The team has battled inconsistency, resulting in an inability to follow up on last year’s stellar campaign — Ken Hitchcock said 2013 has been “as challenging as any season I’ve ever coached in,” — and it appears these inconsistencies may have left some questions of the group.

That said, this could simply be Armstrong’s subtle way of challenging his team, something he alluded to in speaking with the Post-Dispatch.

“[Playoff] games are for the self-motivated,” he said. “But right now, that’s playoff hockey. The playoffs always clarify things. They show your strengths and magnify your weaknesses.

“We’re now at the stage where it’s what we do. We’re in the playoffs. We’re going to find out what we are.”

Scary moment: Carlo Colaiacovo hospitalized with ‘dented trachea’

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Buffalo Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has experienced plenty of bad injury luck in his winding career, but Saturday presented one of his worst scares.

As you can see from the video above, Colaiacovo received a scary cross-check from Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators, who received a major penalty and game misconduct.

Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said that Colaiacovo was hospitalized with a “dented trachea” yet is OK, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.

Frightening stuff from an eventual 4-1 Sabres win.

PHT will keep an eye out for additional updates regarding Colaiacovo’s health (and a possible suspension for Arvidsson).

Comeback Kings: Gaborik pulls L.A. past Kane, Blackhawks

Jake Muzzin, Scott Darling

Patrick Kane set an American scoring record, and added another assist to make it more impressive, but the Los Angeles Kings just wouldn’t be denied.

In the end, Marian Gaborik‘s big night meant more than Kane’s; he scored the tying and then overtime game-winner, both assisted by Anze Kopitar, for a rousing 4-3 overtime Kings win.

Gaborik’s first goal:

And here’s video of the OT-GWG:

Noticing a theme tonight? Yeah, it’s been an evening in which it’s dangerous to assume a lead would stand.

With that, the Kings stick to the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division, but Chicago shouldn’t feel all bad. The Blackhawks were able to piece together a decent run during their dreaded “circus trip.”

Patrick Kane’s streak hits 19 games, setting a new American record


When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.

With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).

As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.

Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.

So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?


You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.