B's score

Will ‘Hawks rue the one that got away?


If the Chicago Blackhawks would like any advice on how to move on from a bad loss, they need only look to the team that gave them a particularly bad one Saturday at the United Center.

On Thursday, the day after Chicago’s thrilling triple-overtime victory over the Bruins to open the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, Boston head coach Claude Julien spoke about his group’s knack for fighting back from postseason deficits.

“We’ve been through a lot,” said Julien. “When you go back to the year we won, we were down 2-0 to Montreal losing our first two games at home. We bounced back from that. We’re down 2-0 against Vancouver in the Final and we came back. I don’t think much is going to rattle our team.  We’re a pretty resilient group of guys. We live in the moment.”

In fact, after 20 minutes of Game 2, it appeared Julien would have to sing that same tune again. Instead, the Bruins turned things around mid-game, shaking off a first period that saw them outshot, 19-4, and outscored, 1-0, by the Blackhawks.

Chris Kelly potted his first of the postseason in the second; Dan Paille sniped home the winner in overtime. The Bruins ended up outshooting the ‘Hawks, 24-15, in the second, third, and overtime periods combined.

“If someone watched the first period, they would say ‘Give (Chicago) the Cup right now,”‘ said Bruins forward Jaromir Jagr, who was lambasted after the opening stanza by NBC analyst Mike Milbury.

“We definitely were in survival mode there for a bit,” said goalie Tuukka Rask, who continued his run of playoff brilliance tonight.

“It looked like they had more guys out there than we did. They were bouncing on every single puck in front of net, had a lot of chances. We definitely played pretty bad.

“But it was good that we were only down by one and regrouped after that.”

Julien concurred: “We were on our heels. They had total control of that period. Tuukka kept us in there.”

For the Blackhawks, this is the kind of loss that can come back to haunt a team. Granted, this series is far from over. But Monday and Wednesday the action shifts to TD Garden, a rink where the Bruins have won six straight, a streak that just happened to start with an astonishing comeback versus the Maple Leafs.

Perhaps the Blackhawks can take solace in the fact they had the Bruins on the run in Game 2, if only for a period.

“We had the perfect start to the game, then we stopped doing what made us successful,” said head coach Joel Quenneville. “We stood around. They countered.”

And it’s not like the ‘Hawks haven’t overcome adversity themselves. In the second round, they fought back from a 3-1 series deficit versus the Red Wings.

For now though, the momentum belongs to the B’s.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
Leave a comment

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.”