Jason Brough

St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen (34) defends the goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Blues announce Allen, Backes out for remainder of regular season with injuries

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More injuries for the St. Louis Blues — the club announced today that forward David Backes and goalie Jake Allen will miss the remainder of the regular season with lower-body injuries, and that both will be reevaluated prior to the playoffs.

The news about Allen would seem to ensure that Brian Elliott will be the Blues’ starting goalie for the first game of the playoffs. That is, assuming Elliott can stay healthy the rest of the way — not a given the way things have gone for the Blues this season.

As for Backes, here’s what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had to say:

Backes was one of two players to have played in every game this season for the Blues (Troy Brouwer was the other), though he had an upper-body injury in January during which he played in games but never practiced. Backes is second on the club with 21 goals and fourth with 45 points overall. Backes had a goal and an assist on Sunday night against Colorado and was on the ice when the Blues clinched the game with an empty net goal with just under 3 minutes to play. He had 16:54 of ice time against Colorado and was credited with two blocked shots.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is expected to address the media later today. The team is also dealing with injuries to Robby Fabbri, Jay Bouwmeester and Steve Ott.

Flyers lose MacDonald to upper-body injury

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The Flyers announced today that defenseman Andrew MacDonald will miss Wednesday’s big game in Detroit with an upper-body injury.

MacDonald is considered day-to-day after getting knocked out of Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh on a hit by the Penguins’ Tom Kunhackl.

It’s expected that Evgeny Medvedev will take MacDonald’s spot in the lineup against the Red Wings. Medvedev hasn’t played since March 12, more than three weeks ago.

The Flyers have four games left in the regular season, all in a five-day span — at Detroit Wednesday, home to Toronto Thursday, home to Pittsburgh Saturday, and at the Islanders Sunday.

According to Sports Club Stats, they have a 78.7 percent chance of making the playoffs.

standings

 

Capuano calls out Strome, Nelson and Bailey

New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano plans his team's strategy during a timeout in the last minutes of the third period against the Winnipeg Jets during an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, and Josh Bailey.

Those were the three names that were named today by Islanders coach Jack Capuano.

“We need Strome to be better. We need Brock to be better. We need Bailey to be better. We need guys to be better if we’re going to have any chance at all,” Capuano said, per the Daily News.

And just to make it clear, the coach added, “The guys mentioned need to pick their pick their s—t up and start playing.”

The Isles host Tampa Bay tonight. They were throttled, 5-0, on Saturday by Pittsburgh.

With just four wins in their last 10 and the playoffs starting next week, it’s no wonder Capuano is sounding worried. Only two of those four wins came in regulation, and they were over non-playoff sides Ottawa and Columbus.

New York is also dealing with key injuries to Jaroslav Halak, Mikhail Grabovski and Travis Hamonic, making it even more necessary for others to step up.

“The video doesn’t lie,” said Capuano. “It doesn’t come down to X’s and O’s, it doesn’t come down to systems. It comes down to how hard you want to compete.”

Panarin, Burns, Murray named NHL’s three stars of the week

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) celebrates after scoring an empty-net goal on an assist from Patrick Kane against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, in Chicago. The Blackhawks won 3-1. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
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Blackhawks winger Artemi Panarin, Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, and Penguins goalie Matt Murray have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From NHL.com:

Panarin led the League with 3-5-8 in three outings as the Blackhawks (46-26-7, 99 points) won two of three starts for the week to clinch a berth in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Burns finished second among all scorers and first among defensemen with 1-6-7 in four games as the Sharks (44-29-6, 94 points) gained six of a possible eight standings points.

Murray went 3-0-0 with a 1.95 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and one shutout as the Penguins (46-25-8, 100 points) recorded four victories for the week to extend their overall winning streak to six games and move into second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Panarin now holds a 20-point lead in the rookie scoring race. Most observers believe it’s down to him, Connor McDavid and Shayne Gostisbehere for the Calder Trophy.

Related: McDavid named rookie of the month — where does the Calder Trophy race stand right now?

Panthers’ Mitchell believes the NHL is ‘slipping’ on player safety

Florida Panthers defenseman Willie Mitchell (33) slams Dallas Stars right wing Ales Hemsky (83) into the boards during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015 in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
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Willie Mitchell has been in the NHL for a long time, and he’s seen all the changes that have been made to make the game safer.

But the 38-year-old Panthers captain — currently out of the lineup with a concussion — is worried that the league has been “slipping” in the safety department.

And he says that his fellow players are “worried about it.”

“If my game slips, a coach will come tell me, it’s slipping,” Mitchell told Sportsnet in a lengthy interview. “Well, on trying to protect us, the league is slipping.”

If the players are as concerned as Mitchell suggests they are, it will be interesting to see if the NHLPA tries to do something about it. That’s the organization that’s supposed to represent the best interests of the players. It could always pressure the league to crack down on dangerous play.

Of course, the PA also has a duty to represent players who believe they’ve been unfairly suspended, which has the potential to complicate matters.