St. Louis Blues v Minnesota Wild

Blues finish night on top of NHL standings after shootout win

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The St. Louis Blues rested Ryan Miller, but they didn’t fall back from their frantic pace, as a 3-2 shootout win against the Minnesota Wild leaves them atop the Central Division, Western Conference and overall NHL standings as of Sunday night.

Miller, Brian Elliott, the Blues are rattling off some impressive streaks in the process, as NHL.com’s Lou Korac and others note:

  • Ken Hitchcock is now alone at seventh place all-time in coaching wins with 649, breaking a tie with Ron Wilson.
  • Elliott is now 6-0-0 against the Wild while the Blues have beaten Minnesota eight times in a row.
  • This one you might already know: St. Louis is an incredible 18-0-1 against very good Central Division opponents.

Beyond Elliott, T.J. Oshie had a nice night. He scored this goal:

… And also helped the Blues end Ilya Bryzgalov’s Wild debut in defeat via (you guessed it) the shootout.

(Yup, “Mr. Shootout” seems pretty fair.)

Here’s an updated look at the Western Conference playoff picture after wins for the Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings:

source:

In case you’re wondering, the Boston Bruins’ Sunday win leaves them atop the East side with 89 points.

All eyes on Schwartz ahead of return to sputtering Blues lineup

Jaden Schwartz
Getty
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The St. Louis Blues have not played particularly well since around Christmas.

It’s a story that hasn’t received much attention league-wide, because the Blues’ goaltending has been good enough to cover up a lot of their problems. Brian Elliott had a .937 save percentage in January. He’s up to .958 in February.

But there’s a reason the return of Jaden Schwartz, likely Friday in Florida, has the Blues players so excited.

“He’s a guy that brings a lot of energy to our lineup,” captain David Backes told the Post-Dispatch. “He’s a relentless forechecker who hounds the puck and that’s exactly what we could use right now.”

Backes has clearly been listening to head coach Ken Hitchcock, who’s been growing increasingly frustrated at his team’s inability to play in the opposition’s end. In their past five games, the Blues have managed shot totals of 25, 23, 27, 24, and 22, which isn’t very many at all.

“We’ve needed the power play the last two games, thank God, but we just don’t, we don’t compete when we get checked in the scoring areas near as hard as we have to,” Hitchcock told reporters.

Once Schwartz gets back up to speed, he should help. Last year, he finished second on the team in goals (28) and fourth in shots (184).

But he won’t solve everything, particularly with Alex Pietrangelo sidelined now.

In their 20 games since Christmas, the Blues are in the bottom 10 in score-adjusted Corsi (a measure of puck possession), and that isn’t like them at all.

Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made

San Jose’s Sommer becomes winningest coach in AHL history

RoySommer
San Jose Sharks
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Roy Sommer etched his name into the record books on Wednesday night.

Sommer, who’s been the coach of San Jose’s minor-league affiliate for the last 18 seasons, recorded his 637th win at the American League level to surpass Hockey Hall of Famer Fred “Bun” Cook as the winningest coach in league history.

More, from the Sharks:

Sommer ranks 1st in the AHL in games coached (1,388) and now victories (637) with the 4-2 victory over the Ontario Reign (AHL affiliate of the LA Kings). In the AHL, he has coached 120 players who have gone on to play in the NHL, including 95 who have spent a portion of their careers with the San Jose Sharks.

In all, 20 players who have dressed for the San Jose Sharks this season played for Sommer in the AHL at one point in their career.

Sommer, 58, was a former Maple Leafs draftee that appeared in three career NHL contests, all with Edmonton during the 1980-81 campaign. He transitioned to coaching immediately upon the end of his playing career and, prior to taking San Jose’s minor-league gig, spent two years as an assistant with the Sharks from ’96-98.

Report: 2017 NHL Draft will be held in Chicago

The NHL hockey draft board is complete at the end of the first round at Prudential Center, Sunday, June 30, 2013, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Associated Press
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It looks like the city of Chicago will be hosting the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

The team and the league are expected to confirm the news during an official press conference later today.

The draft has never been held in the Windy City.

It may be a little early to project which team will pick first in 2017, but it certainly doesn’t look like it’ll be the ‘Hawks.

The last time they drafted first overall, they took this guy:

This also marks the first time since 2011 (Minnesota) that a Western Conference team will play host to the draft.

Last year’s draft was held in Sunrise, Florida while this year’s edition will be held in Buffalo.

Hockey reporters everywhere will be thrilled about an additional work assignment in Chicago.

Here’s what some of them are saying:

 

PHT Morning Skate: Jagr doesn’t understand why Peyton Manning would retire after winning the Super Bowl

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Jaromir Jagr doesn’t believe Peyton Manning should retire. (ESPN)

Victor Hedman wrote about “How We Play Hockey in Sweden” for The Players’ Tribune.

–Did the Senators make a smart move by acquiring Dion Phaneuf? (Sportsnet)

–And if you have a Maple Leafs jersey with Phaneuf’s name on the back, the Sens want to dispose of it:

–Watch the highlights from yesterday’s game between the Rangers and Penguins. (Top of the page)

–A Zoolander tribute to Coyotes center Martin Hanzal. (Puck Daddy)

Steven Stamkos had a run-in with the paparazzi in Montreal. (Bardown)

Sidney Crosby‘s confidence could be dangerous for the rest of the league: