Get your game notes: Rangers at Penguins


Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins hosting the New York Rangers starting at 7 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Tonight marks the start of the fifth all-time playoff series between the Rangers and Penguins. Pittsburgh has had the home-ice advantage in all four previous series, and won all of them. The Rangers have never won the opening game of a series against the Pens, and have only held a series lead once, when they had a two-games-to-one advantage in 1992 before losing the final three games of the series. The Pens are 9-2 all-time in home playoff games vs. the Rangers, outscoring them by a combined 49-34.

• Penguins center Sidney Crosby had no goals and six assists in Pittsburgh’s six-game victory over Columbus in the first round, marking the third (and longest) playoff series of Crosby’s career in which the Pittsburgh captain went without a goal. The Penguins have won two of the three series – including Crosby’s lone playoff series vs. the Rangers, in 2008.

• Goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury (86 career postseason games) and Henrik Lundqvist (74) are first and second, respectively, among remaining goalies in this postseason in career playoff games played. (L.A.’s Jonathan Quick is third, with 57.) Both Lundqvist and Fleury have both played their entire careers with their respective teams. This is Fleury’s 10th season with the Penguins (eighth postseason); Lundqvist’s ninth with the Rangers (eighth postseason).

• The Rangers went 3-29 (10.3%, T-third worst in playoffs) on the power play in the first round and have gone 0-21 in their last 21 opportunities with the man advantage. The Penguins allowed at least one power-play goal in five of their six first-round games vs. Columbus, including four power-play goals (in 13 opportunities) in the last three games.

• Martin St. Louis, who scored one goal in 19 regular-season games as a Ranger following his March 5 trade from Tampa Bay, registered two goals and four assists in the first round against Philadelphia, tied for the team lead with Brad Richards. St. Louis has faced the Penguins once before in the playoffs, when his Lightning pulled off a seven-game upset of the Penguins in the first round of Tampa Bay’s run to the 2011 Eastern Conference Final. St. Louis had four goals and four assists to lead all players in that series, in which Sidney Crosby did not play due to concussion issues.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
Leave a comment

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.”