Alex Steen

Get your game notes: Flyers at Blues


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

• St. Louis is 10 points away from its second division title in the last three seasons (2011-12) after not having won one since 1999-2000. The Blues need eight points in their final eight games for a franchise-record 115, surpassing their mark of 114 in ’99-00. They currently sit three points behind Boston for the Presidents’ Trophy, an award the franchise only won once, in that 1999-2000 season. That season, the Blues were upset in the Western Conference Quarterfinals by San Jose in seven games.

• Tonight’s game pits nine 20-goal scorers (plus another on injured reserve – Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko) from this season, five on each team. The Flyers and Blues are two of the three NHL teams with five or more 20-goal scorers. (Colorado is the other, also with five.)


The Blues’ balanced attack also includes five players with 50+ points: Steen, Oshie – 60, Backes – 56, Schwartz – 53, Alex Pietrangelo – 50. Chicago, Colorado and Pittsburgh are the only other teams with that many (all with five).

• In the last three games, the Blues top line of LW Steen (three goals, three assists) – C Backes (three goals, three assists) – RW Oshie (four goals, two assists) has combined for 18 points. Steen, with a career-high 33 goals this season, is tied for second in the league in game-winning goals (nine), behind Montreal’s Max Pacioretty (10). Backes (27 goals, 259 hits) and Boston’s Milan Lucic (21 goals, 232 hits) are the only players in the league with 20+ goals and 230+ hits this season. In his sixth NHL season, Oshie has set career highs in goals (21), assists (39) and points (60).

• Giroux led the NHL in scoring in March with 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in 13 games, tied for the most points by a Flyers player in any month over the last 12 seasons (Jeff Carter in Dec. 2008; Jakub Voracek in Feb. 2013). The Flyers are 19-2-1 this season when Giroux scores a goal. Elias Sports Bureau

• Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, who ranks seventh all-time with 655 wins, needs one win to tie his career single-season high for wins, 51 (set with the eventual Stanley Cup champion 1998-99 Dallas Stars). Hitchcock coached the Flyers for three full seasons (2002-04, 2005-06), helping them to three 100+ point seasons and an Eastern Conference Final berth in 2004, before getting fired eight games into the 2006-07 season.

• On Sunday, Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier scored his 400th and 401st career NHL goals in a 4-3 shootout loss to Boston. Tonight, he suits up in career NHL game number 1,099. In six career games at Scottrade Arena (all with Tampa Bay), he has no goals and four assists. His team went 2-3-1.

• The Blues are 26-6-4 (.778%) at home this season, second only to Boston (29-7-3, .782%) in home win percentage this season. The Blues are 8-1-2 in their last 11 home games, outscoring their opponents 38-25. The Flyers are 4-1-1 in their last 6 road games, outscoring their opponents 20-16.

• The Blues are 40-2-5 when scoring first and 28-1-3 when leading after the first period, thanks to 67 first-period goals this season (T-5th in the NHL) and a +7 goal differential (67-60). It only gets better for the Blues. They are +30 (79-49) in the second period and +31 (83-52) in the third this season.

The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

Todd McLellan

Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

Some of the more choice quotes:

“I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

“When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

“It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

“We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

Not good.

Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.