Ryan Getzlaf , Corey Perry

NHL on NBCSN: Ducks finish road trip against Rangers

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NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the New York Rangers host the Anaheim Ducks at Madison Square Garden at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

The long road home for the Anaheim Ducks is nearly at an end. Their 15-day, 8-game road trip has been a largely successful one (they’re 4-2-1 heading into Monday night’s game) and they’re coming off a 6-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

Leading the way for the Ducks have been the usual cast of characters. Corey Perry has a team-high eight goals and Ryan Getzlaf leads the team in points with 16. The surprising leader for them? Mathieu Perreault.

Since coming over in a trade with the Washington Capitals and being reunited with coach Bruce Boudreau, Perreault has five goals and 13 points, good for third on the team. With injuries to Teemu Selanne and Jakob Silfverberg up front, his offensive takeoff has given the Ducks a big lift.

If they plan on closing things out on a high note, they’ll have to do something they haven’t done since 2008: Win at Madison Square Garden. They’re 0-3-0 since then, a span of five years and 270 days.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,500 Fantasy Hockey league that includes Monday and Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $400. Starts Monday at 7:30pm ET. Here’s the link.

Winning on the road is hard enough, but the Ducks face a New  York Rangers team that seems to have gotten their act together.

The Rangers have won three in row, including their last two games at home in which their offense has awoken scoring seven goals in those games. Leading that charge are a pair of players you didn’t think would be doing just that together.

source: Getty ImagesForwards Derek Stepan and Brad Richards each have 10 points and it’s Richards’ five goals that lead the team in that department. Yes, the offense has had its struggles, but Stepan’s breakout of late (he had a hat trick against Carolina) to go along with Richards’ inspired play early on has to make coach Alain Vigneault happy.

One player who’s loved returning home from the team’s month-long nine-game road trip is Henrik Lundqvist. In the Rangers’ three games at MSG this season, he’s 2-1-0 with a 1.02 goals-against average and .964 save percentage. After his brutal start to the season, Lundqvist’s home numbers should inspire the Rangers to really want home-ice advantage in the playoffs.


New York: Rick Nash (IR-concussion), Ryan Callahan (IR-broken thumb), Dominic Moore (strained oblique)

Anaheim: Teemu Selanne (IR-jaw), Jakob Silfverberg (IR-broken hand), Luca Sbisa (IR-sprained ankle, may return), Viktor Fasth (IR-lower-body), Matt Beleskey (IR-upper-body), Saku Koivu (IR-head), Sami Vatanen (upper-body, may play), Sheldon Souray (IR-wrist)

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.”