Jamie Benn

Five quotes from Canada’s 1-0 win over the U.S.


“We capitalized on that one chance. I think both goalies were definitely the stars of the game.” — Rick Nash

Hands up if you predicted Jay Bouwmeester would start the key offensive play today. Just a perfect pass to Jamie Benn for the tip home. Jonathan Quick couldn’t be faulted on that one, and was otherwise brilliant in stopping 36 of the 37 Canadian shots. Meanwhile, Carey Price stopped all 31 shots he faced, earning a shutout in the biggest game he’s ever played.

VIDEO: Sidney Crosby on pressure entering Sunday

“I’m just trying to make my way to the dressing room here.” — Jamie Benn

In response to a question about what was going through his mind after scoring such a huge goal. Not surprisingly, there were one or two cameras and microphones in Benn’s face once he got off the ice and entered the media gauntlet. Only 24 years old, it’s fair to assume the Dallas Stars winger has never received so much attention. Remember when he wasn’t even selected to Team Canada’s summer orientation camp?

“It wasn’t that good a game. It was a sleeper, one nothing. Couldn’t really generate anything, they couldn’t generate anything.” — Ryan Kesler

Many will disagree, given the quality of the hockey we saw today. But, in fairness, Kesler was responding to the assertion that it was a “great” game. And let’s be honest, it wasn’t an all-timer. Besides, has anyone lost bigger games than Kesler since 2010? An Olympic gold-medal final. Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Now another disappointment. Imagine the frustration.

VIDEO: Highlights from Canada’s thrilling win

“I think it was a good game. Two good teams out there that were skating well. Didn’t give up a whole lot of chances on both sides. I think that’s a sign of well-coached teams, good skaters, smart hockey players.” — Patrick Sharp

The perspective from the winning side. Even though they didn’t fill the net (again), this was the kind of game the Canadians wanted to play. Tough defensively, fast, and with minimal mistakes. Yes, the Americans had their chances to beat Price, but you could probably count the number of those on one hand.

“It seems like we had a tough time sustaining any pressure in their end. They outnumbered us in their zone, came up with it quick and, as we expected, they were quick on transition.” — Ryan Callahan

In a related story, Canada’s blue line is the best in the tournament. The only team that comes close to matching it is Sweden, and — hey, wouldn’t you know it — the Swedes are in the gold-medal game, too. Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty don’t have Stanley Cup rings and gold medals by accident. These guys are unbelievable puck movers who set the pace and rarely make mistakes. When a team’s got those two playing over 20 minutes, and it’s also got Shea Weber and Alex Pietrangelo playing over 20 minutes, well, Callahan’s quote says it all.

Related: Suter upset with ‘terrible’ U.S. performance: ‘You can’t play scared’

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.”