Alexander Steen, Zach Parise

Get your game notes: Wild at Blues


Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the St. Louis Blues hosting the Minnesota Wild starting at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

— The Blues are 7-0-1 vs. the other six teams in the Central Division, outscoring them by a combined 34-16 (not including shootout goals). The only other NHL teams that are unbeaten in regulation vs. divisional foes are Ottawa (6-0-1 vs. Atlantic teams) and Anaheim (5-0-0 vs. Pacific teams).

— Since the beginning of the 2008-09 season, the Blues are 7-0-2 vs. the Wild on home ice. Four of the past five meetings at Scottrade Center have gone past 60 minutes, with the Blues taking one game each in regulation, overtime and the shootout, while the Wild’s only two wins have come in the shootout.

— Since riding a 13-game point streak (the NHL’s longest this season) from Oct. 17-Nov. 16, the Blues’ Alexander Steen has only one assist in his last four games; after scoring at least one goal in 12 of his first 14 games from Oct. 3-Nov. 7, the Swedish sniper has gone without a goal in six of his last eight.

— Wild goaltender Josh Harding, who is questionable after suffering a leg injury in warmups on Saturday, is 6-3-1 lifetime vs. St. Louis, with a 1.92 GAA. The only other NHL team that he has beaten six times is Chicago (6-3-0, 2.53 GAA). Against the Blues, Niklas Backstrom is only 6-8-1, with a 2.86 GAA.

— Harding, who has eight wins in November (T-most in NHL, with Corey Crawford), has gone 22 games without allowing more than three goals. Only the Flyers’ Steve Mason (23) has a longer active streak.

— Since Mar. 24, 2011, the Blues are 44-0-1 at Scottrade Center when scoring three or more goals. (Their lone defeat came in a 6-5 shootout loss to Anaheim on Feb. 9, 2013.) Their 45-game point streak is exactly two-and-a-half times longer than the second-longest active home point streak (18), held by Washington (18-0-0), Minnesota (16-0-2) and Detroit (15-0-3). (Elias Sports Bureau)

— Of the 12 defensemen in the NHL who have at least 15 points this season, three play for the Blues: Alex Pietrangelo (18 points), Jay Bouwmeester (17) and Kevin Shattenkirk (16). Ryan Suter, the Wild’s points leader among blueliners, is also on that list (15 points, all assists).

— Suter leads the NHL in time on ice/game (29:33), almost two minutes more per game than the Senators’ Erik Karlsson (27:46, 2nd in the NHL). The last time a player averaged more than 29 minutes TOI/G over an entire season was 2002-03, when Nicklas Lidstrom (29:20) and Adrian Aucoin (29:00) did so.

— The Wild have allowed an NHL-low 25.3 shots per game. In the first three games of their current four-game road trip, however, they have allowed 104 shots (34.7 per game), including a season-high 39 vs. Winnipeg on Saturday.

— The Blues’ power play (20/78, 25.6%) tops the NHL. Their power-play efficiency at home is even better (13/44, 29.6%), although that statistic ranks only second in the league (Toronto, 32.4%).

— The Blues are coming off a 6-1 home win over Dallas (Nov. 23), in which six different players scored a goal. (13 different players registered at least one point.) Only eight times in 2013-14 has a team scored 6+ goals without a multi-goal scorer. (All of the teams that accomplished this feat reside in the Western Conference.) The Blues and Blackhawks are the only teams to do it twice. (Elias Sports Bureau)

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.”