PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 01: Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers instructs teammates Jakub Voracek #93 and Scott Hartnell #19 during a stoppage in play against the Washington Capitals on November 1, 2013 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Capitals went on to defeat the Flyers 7-0. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Flyers change lines again in search of elusive spark


If only the Philadelphia Flyers had acquired goaltender Steve Mason in January, they might have made the playoffs in the shortened campaign. If only they would provide him with some offensive support now, they’d have a far better record than 4-9-1.

The Flyers rank dead last in the NHL with an average of 1.57 goals per game. Obviously, they’ve already frequently mixed up their lines with limited success, but Flyers coach Craig Berube now seems to be trying to spark his team by putting them in familiar situations.

With that in mind Jakub Voracek has been reunited with Claude Giroux on the top line. Scott Hartnell is rounding out the unit, according to CSN Philly.

Voracek and Giroux had plenty of success last season, but Voracek has had a fair number of different linemates already this season. At the same time, this will be far from the first time the duo has played together in 2013-14 and nothing has broken Giroux out of his goal scoring drought.

In fact, Giroux’s inability to score in any situation is a microcosm of the Flyers’ problems. Ultimately, there’s only so much Berube can do to fix this.

“At some point, they need to start producing,” Berube said simply, although he’s still hopeful that the familiarity will help them this time around.

Speaking of familiar, Vincent Lecavalier will shift from the right wing back to center.

“I just wanted to get Vinny back in the middle,” Berube explained. “It gets him some freedom to skate a little bit more and get moving and just trying to create some offense five-on-five here.”

Lecavalier will play alongside Brayden Schenn and Matt Read.

The Flyers will try out these combinations against the New Jersey Devils tonight. The Devils have been shutout of back-to-back games, including their recent contest against Philadelphia, so this has the makings of a low-scoring game. While the Flyers will gladly take two points any way they can get them, at some point, their offense needs to show signs of thawing.

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.”