Mike Halford

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Goalie nods: ‘He’s our guy, you’ve got to stick with him’ — Blues go back to Allen after rough outing

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Yesterday, while examining St. Louis’ goaltending situation, Brough wondered if Carter Hutton might be in line for tonight’s start against the Devils, after Jake Allen was hooked in Tuesday’s 6-3 loss to Nashville.

Nope. Not happening.

“[Allen’s] our guy, you’ve got to stick with him,” head coach Ken Hitchcock said today, per the News-Democrat. “These are the adversity and growing pains you go through as a young starting goalie. You’ve got to learn to fight through this stuff, you’ve got to learn to battle through this stuff.”

Allen’s had a strange year. He sits among the league leaders in wins, with 14, but his .906 save percentage is low for a workhorse ‘tender on a good team. The league average is .914.

Allen’s also in a unique situation. For the duration of his time in St. Louis, there’s always been one other goalie (or, on occasion, two) vying for the No. 1 job. It meant Hitchcock never had to anoint a starter, or publicly declare who “his guy” was. But that’s all changed. Allen’s the man, and Hutton is there to serve as his backup. And even if there was an opportunity to steal Allen’s job, Hutton hasn’t capitalized on it — he’s gone 2-4-1 with an .889 save percentage this year.

So that’s the situation in St. Louis. For the Devils, Cory Schneider is in goal.

Elsewhere…

— Looks like Jonathan Bernier gets the start as Anaheim takes on the Bruins in Boston. No word yet on a B’s starter, but Tuukka Rask did play in last night’s 4-3 OT loss to the Pens.

— The red-hot Scott Darling is in for Chicago, as the ‘Hawks visit Brooklyn. Thomas Greiss, riding a personal three-game winning streak, gets the call for the Isles.

— It’s Mike Smith versus Frederik Andersen as the Coyotes take on the Leafs in Toronto.

Jeff Zatkoff, who came on in relief of Peter Budaj in Tuesday’s loss to Buffalo, appears to be going for the Kings. He’ll be up against Jimmy Howard, who had a tough loss against the Coyotes (four goals on 19 shots) last time out.

— No surprises from the Wild, as Devan Dubnyk starts yet again. Nashville has yet to confirm a starter.

— After allowing five goals, getting yanked and smashing his stick in frustration on Tuesday night in Minnesota, Roberto Luongo goes for the Panthers in Winnipeg. He’ll square off against Connor Hellebuyck.

Antti Raanta‘s run of four straight starts is over, as Henrik Lundqvist gets the call for New York in Dallas. The Stars are going with Antti Niemi.

After four-game absence, Nash (groin) back for Rangers

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Rick Nash, tied for second on the Rangers with 11 goals this season, will return to the lineup tonight when the Blueshirts take on the Stars in Dallas.

Nash has been out of the lineup with a groin injury since Dec. 6, a 4-2 loss to the Isles.

“I was turning on the backcheck, took one bad stride and heard it pop,” he explained, per the New York Post. “After I went through the testing, the doctor called me and said, ‘If you’re going to have this, it’s the best place it could be.’ ”

Nash has been an important trigger man for one of the NHL’s best offenses, so his return is a welcome one. The Rangers fared well in his absence, going 3-1, but outside of a 5-0 drubbing of New Jersey, they had issues scoring goals. New York found the back of the net just twice in a win over the Jets, and just once in a shutout victory over the ‘Hawks.

On Tuesday, Chicago got its revenge by limiting the Rangers to just one goal in a 2-1 win at MSG.

New York didn’t have a full skate this morning, so it remains unclear where Nash will slot into the lineup. There’s a possibility he’ll play wing on a line with Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller, or he could drop down and skate with Brandon Pirri and Jimmy Vesey.

Slumping Devils shake things up, healthy scratch Parenteau and Bennett

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Earlier this week we discussed the New Jersey Devils, who — after getting off to a 9-3-3 start — have gone 3-7-3 in their last 13 games, culminating with Sunday’s 5-0 blowout loss to the Rangers.

Now they’re shaking things up.

P.A. Parenteau and Beau Bennett, two of the club’s regulars at forward, will be healthy scratched for tonight’s game against St. Louis, per NJ.com.

The most noteworthy of the two is Parenteau, who was claimed off waivers from the Islanders just prior to the season. The veteran has been a good offensive contributor, with 11 points, and is tied for fourth on the team in goals, with six.

Parenteau has been in the lineup for all 28 games this year, averaging a healthy 15:34 TOI per. But he’s also minus-11, and his defensive play has come into question by head coach John Hynes:

As for Bennett, he’s played 24 of 28 games this year, missing a bit of time with a leg laceration. The 24-year-old has seven points and averages just under 14 minutes a night so he, too, played a fairly prominent role up front.

Hynes has taken issue with New Jersey’s physicality recently — specifically, the club’s lack of it.

“For us, there’s got to be more heaviness,” he said earlier this week. “There’s a physicality that’s missing at times. We feel, as of late, we’ve been an easy team to play against.”

In related news, the Devils are giving Luke Gazdic his regular season and team debut tonight. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound tough guy has spent the majority of this year in AHL Albany, after spending last season in the Edmonton organization.

Sharks recall prized first-rounder Meier

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It’s Timo Time for the Sharks.

Timo Meier, the Swiss winger taken ninth overall in 2015, has been recalled from San Jose’s AHL affiliate — the Barracuda — and will join the team on its current Eastern Canada road swing, per the Gackle Report.

Meier, 20, leads the Barracuda in goals this year, with nine, and sits third on the team in points. That production is quite impressive, given this is his first season of professional hockey — he’d spent the last three years tearing it up in the QMJHL, and representing Switzerland at the world juniors.

Meier is San Jose’s highest draft pick since Logan Couture went ninth overall in 2007. Ironically, Couture could be the guy Meier replaces in the lineup, after he received a nasty cross-check to the head from Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman last night.

The Sharks play tomorrow in Montreal, which could be where Meier makes his long-awaited debut. There was talk he would’ve made the team out of training camp, but a bout of mononucleosis kept him off ice for a considerable length of time.

San Jose has had good success with AHL recalls this season. Kevin Labanc was brought up in November and has fared well, with six points through 17 games.

 

Helm (dislocated shoulder) returns to practice

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Darren Helm, the speedy Detroit forward that’s been out a month with a dislocated shoulder, returned to practice on Thursday in the hopes of getting back into game action later this month.

Per MLive, Helm said he hopes to be back by Christmas, potentially New Year’s.

The injury occurred on Nov. 15, so the 29-year-old is right on target for his diagnosed six-week recovery window. Helm has already missed 13 games.

Getting him back in the lineup will be a fairly significant boost for the Red Wings. At the time of his injury Helm had seven points through 11 games, and was sitting tied for second on the team in goals.

He was also averaging over 15 minutes a night, and head coach Jeff Blashill used him in a number of different situations.