Mike Halford

Vladimir Tarasenko, Joel Edmundson

After ‘really disappointing’ loss to Leafs, Blues make change on defense

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Petteri Lindbohm is up, and Joel Edmundson‘s down.

That’s the news out of St. Louis this morning — following last night’s ugly 4-1 loss at home to the Leafs, the Blues made a change on defense by sending Edmundson to AHL Chicago in favor of Petteri Lindbohm, who’s yet to play in the NHL this season.

Lindbohm, 22, appeared in 23 games for the Blues last year, but has spent all of this season with the Wolves, where he has seven points in 20 games.

Edmundson, also 22, was — along with fellow rookie Colton Parayko — one of the two surprises to make the Blues roster out of training camp. A second-round pick in ’11, Edmundson has no goals and two points in 23 games this year, and had a rough outing against Toronto on Saturday, finishing minus-2 in just 11:58 TOI, the lowest among all Blues d-men.

Following last night’s loss, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock expressed frustration.

“It’s really disappointing to watch us have to go through this because it’s not the right way to play,” he said, per the Blues website. “The players know it in there, especially the veteran players, but I’m not sure what it’s going to take for us to get back to what we’re capable of but we’re not doing it on a consistent basis.

“That’s why we’re a .500 hockey club over the last little while. We’re .500 in our individual game and we’re .500 in our record because of it.”

Report: Jets, Trouba will wait until after season for extension talks

Anaheim Ducks v Winnipeg Jets - Game Four
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Talented young Winnipeg d-man Jacob Trouba‘s name continues to be in the news.

Trouba, rumored to be an Islanders trade target for a potential Travis Hamonic move, is now reportedly going to table contract talks with the Jets until the end of the year, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

According to Friedman, neither the Jets nor Trouba’s camp would comment on the state of negotiations. Friedman did say, though, that he’s heard the decision to put off talks was “amicable.”

Trouba, 21, is in the last of his three-year, entry-level deal and a restricted free agent at season’s end.

The ninth overall pick in 2012, Trouba burst onto the scene during his rookie campaign in ’13-14 — scoring 10 goals and 29 points, finishing sixth in Calder voting — though his numbers are down a bit this year.

His TOI per game has dropped to 20:09, and he’s on pace for the lowest point total of his three-year career.

 

Goalie nods: Gibson starts (again) as Anaheim’s crease gets crowded (again)

John Gibson
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Oh, this again.

Prior to tonight’s tilt against the Sharks, Anaheim had an all-too-familiar look at the morning skate as three goalies — Frederik Andersen, John Gibson and Anton Khudobin — took to the playing surface.

While the Ducks later announced that Gibson would start (his fifth in a row), the real story was about the team’s crowded crease.

More: Khudobin gets second straight start, raising eyebrows in Anaheim

Andersen’s been out since Nov. 21 and was dealing with the flu all last week, which allowed Gibson to be recalled from AHL San Diego, then grasp hold of the starting job. Gibson has registered one shutout and stopped 104 of 112 shots for a .929 save percentage in four starts in Andersen’s absence.

Then, today — when asked about picking a starter for tonight’s big in-division rivalry game against San Jose — Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau had some pretty interesting things to say.

“We’ve brought [Gibson] up in situations where he gets shutouts, in playoffs where he gets shutouts,” Boudreau said, per the O.C. Register. “He’s a big-game guy and this is a big game so hopefully he’ll come to the forefront tonight.”

It’s no secret Boudreau is a big Gibson fan. He had enough belief to start the then-untested rookie in the playoffs two years ago and, along with the rest of the Anaheim brass, recognizes Gibson is the organization’s goalie of the future.

It’s probably not coincidence, then, that on Thursday’s TSN Insider Trading, Darren Dreger said there’s belief Andersen or Khudobin could be made available via trade, adding “It’s based on the play of John Gibson.”

So yeah, it’ll be really interesting to see how Gibson does this evening.

For the Sharks, Martin Jones is in goal.

Elsewhere…

Mike Smith is back in goal for the Coyotes after getting hooked for three goals on 16 shots against Detroit Thursday night. He’ll be up against Chad Johnson in the Sabres’ net.

— It’s Michal Neuvirth versus Cory Schneider when the Flyers take on the Devils in New Jersey.

Al Montoya will give the red-hot Roberto Luongo the night off as the Panthers play Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky starts for the Jackets.

— Battle of the backups in Brooklyn: Brian Elliott for the Blues, Thomas Greiss for the Isles.

— Looks as though Jonas Gustavsson will start for the Bruins in Calgary, while the Flames are once again riding Karri Ramo.

— No word yet on a Dallas starter after Kari Lehtonen beat the Canucks last night. We do know, however, that Anders Nilsson will be in for Edmonton.

It’s the NHL’s best power play against the NHL’s worst penalty kill tonight in Calgary

Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley sets a play during overtime of an NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins in Boston, Thursday, March 5, 2015. The Flames defeated the Bruins 4-3 in overtime. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

No team has a worse penalty kill (71.6 percent) this year than Calgary.

And no team has a better power play (31.4 percent) than Boston.

As such, there’s an interesting dynamic at play tonight when the Flames host the Bruins at the Saddledome.

“We just need to clean it up a little bit and make sure we’re on the same page as a four man unit,” Flames forward Michael Frolik, one of the team’s penalty killers, told the Calgary Herald. “We’ve talked about it, we just have to do it on the ice.”

The Flames have given up at least one PPG in four of their last six games, but were perfect in a 4-3 shootout win over Dallas on Tuesday. That could give them some much-needed momentum to shut down the Bruins — specifically Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.

Bergeron sits second in the league in power play points with 13, trailing only Patrick Kane.

Krejci is also top-15 in the league in PP points, with nine.

Now, it has to be said that Boston’s power play has cooled off a bit recently — scoring just twice on the last 12 opportunities — and that the gaudy 31 percent success clip has much to do with a streak from Oct. 27 to Nov. 12, in which the B’s scored a power play goal in eight straight contests.

Last time out, in Wednesday’s shootout loss to the Oilers, Boston failed to convert on either of its PP chances.

Ekman-Larsson ‘should be a Norris Trophy candidate every year,’ says Bylsma

Oliver Ekman-Larsson
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Having only coached in Buffalo and Pittsburgh during his seven-year career, Dan Bylsma hasn’t seen much of Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But what he has seen, he likes.

Quite a bit.

From the Buffalo News:

Bylsma had high praise for Arizona defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, calling the 24-year-old Swede the most underrated blueliner in the NHL.

“He should be a Norris Trophy candidate every year,” Bylsma said. “He’s an elite player who may not get the accolades from where he plays and from playing out in the West but he’s a dangerous player.

“One we don’t see much, but one we have to be aware of.”

Ekman-Larsson — who, it should be mentioned, has never finished higher than seventh in Norris voting — is having another really solid campaign in the desert, with six goals and 17 points through 25 games.

Should he maintain this pace, he’d break his career high of 44 points, and be within spitting distance of his eye-popping 23 goals from last season (he, along with Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, broke Nicklas Lidstrom’s record for goals in a season by a Swedish blueliner).

And just in case you thought Bylsma might’ve been blowing smoke in advance of tonight’s game against OEL and the Coyotes, do consider what Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported earlier this season:

One scout for a Western Conference-based team says the 24-year-old is now playing at a “Norris Trophy level.”

“He needs a better team around him, an elite partner and more attention,” said the scout. “This guy is great.”

Related: Ekman-Larsson is disappointed, frustrated and feels unwelcome by Glendale City Council