The St. Louis Blues defeated the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, achieving a new franchise record for wins in a regular season with 52.
That beats the club’s old record, set by the 1999-2000 team that won the Presidents’ Trophy. This season’s edition of the Blues is also in the running to be the league’s top regular season team. At 111 points, they are tied with the Boston Bruins for the top team in the NHL.
“(The record) is a special thing, but tomorrow it really means nothing,” goaltender Brian Elliott told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Thursday night’s game – a 2-1 victory for the Blues – was the first meeting the two teams since Ryan Miller was traded out of Buffalo to St. Louis in a pre-deadline day blockbuster.
Elliott, however, got the start in goal for the Blues. He made 24 saves to improve his record to 18-5-2 this season.
As impressive as the new franchise record is for the Blues, head coach Ken Hitchcock quelled any kind of over-excitement on the occasion, praising the 1999-2000 team.
“The teams that had 51 [wins], there also were ties, so I think you’ve got to be realistic there,” Hitchcock said, as per NHL.com. “It’s a different era now because you’re getting those extra points in shootouts and overtimes and stuff like that.
“I coached against those teams that got the big points and they were awesome teams here … awesome. It’s a nice record, but it’s an improper evaluation. I don’t think it’s fair to that group that got that 51 wins because I know about that group. They were not fun to play against … not fun at all.”
Robin Lehner might not be back anytime soon.
Making his debut with the Buffalo Sabres, the 24-year-old goaltender couldn’t complete Thursday’s game against his former squad, the Ottawa Senators, due to what has now been revealed to be a right leg injury.
When he left the arena, he was wearing a walking boot on that nearly went up to his knee.
“It doesn’t look like it’s short term,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told the Buffalo News. “It’s more than day-to-day at this point, but we need to evaluate further.”
It’s a rocky start to what’s an important campaign for Lehner. He has been given an opportunity to demonstrate that he’s ready to be a starting goaltender after being acquired by the Sabres over the summer, but it looks like that will have to be postponed.
While he’s sidelined, Chad Johnson is likely to be leaned on heavily.
Brad Stuart wasn’t on the ice for the first game of his two-year, $7.2 million contract and it had nothing to do with his health.
Avalanche coach Patrick Roy felt Stuart simply wasn’t one of the six best defensemen in training camp and consequently he wasn’t in the lineup, per the Denver Post.
“Things could change for the next game,” Roy offered. “Like I said (Wednesday), we’re going to use those eight D all year long. (Last night was) just the first game of the season.”
Perhaps, but it’s still a terrible indicator, especially given that Stuart will turn 36 on Nov. 6. Stuart is a veteran of over 1,000 games, but now the question is if he has enough left in the tank to provide Colorado with much value.
The Avalanche also scratched defenseman Brandon Gormley, who was acquired from the Coyotes in exchange for Stefan Elliott. The hope was that both players would benefit from the change in scenery. Gormley was taken with the 13th overall pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, but has only played in 32 career NHL games.