Alexander Steen didn’t score in regulation or overtime Thursday, but it didn’t matter. The St. Louis Blues won anyway.
The Blues defeated the Boston Bruins with a 3-2 shootout victory, pushing their franchise-best start to 15-3-3. That temporarily put them ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for top spot in the Central Division, however the Blackhawks won in Winnipeg not long after to jump back ahead of St. Louis.
The win for St. Louis was a milestone victory for both the team and its head coach Ken Hitchcock.
On an individual level, Hitchcock recorded 620th career win, tying Bryan Murray for eighth on the NHL’s all-time list, according to the Blues.
The Blues have also won their last six games at the TD Garden.
Steen was held off the score sheet until the second round of the shootout. His goal helped extend the deciding skills competition into the fourth round, when Derek Roy scored the winner.
“If that’s the level, that’s a pretty high level,” Hitchcock said, as per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“We got the information we needed. It was a playoff game. It was very disciplined. Both teams really respected each other. But it was really a hard game.”
Steen entered the game with 17 goals, tied with Alex Ovechkin at the top of the league.
As you’ll recall, we previewed this game earlier in the day. It was also a match-up of two very strong teams only gaining strength in their respective conferences.
The Bruins had won six of their last seven games, while the Blues have now gone 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.
If you can only watch one hockey game tonight, you probably wouldn’t go wrong picking the St. Louis Blues (14-3-3) at the Boston Bruins (14-6-1).
Both teams come into the matchup on a hot stretch. Boston’s won five of its last six; St. Louis’ entire season has been a hot stretch, really.
We’re hesitant to call this a possible Stanley Cup Final preview, given so many East-West matchups could qualify as that in today’s NHL, but it wouldn’t be untrue. And what a Final that could be — two big, tough teams that don’t mind getting their noses dirty, but also boast their share of talent.
If there’s one thing that separates this season’s Blues’ team from previous editions, it’s the ability to put the puck in the net at a high rate. St. Louis has the No. 2-ranked offense in the NHL, averaging 3.40 goals per game, and led by Alexander Steen’s 17 tallies. Last season, the Blues averaged 2.38 goals per game.
If there’s one thing that separates this season’s Bruins’ team from previous editions, it may be rookie defenseman Torey Krug, a dynamic offensive threat on the back end who has 12 points in 21 games. The 22-year-old has his issues defensively, but his offense makes up for those, according to Bruins coach Claude Julien.
“I think you just let him play,” Julien told NHL.com. “His game offensively is almost a natural part of it, so you let him do that stuff. I don’t think there’s too many times where he makes bad decisions up front. If he does, it’s going to happen once in a while. There’s always a risk and reward; you want to minimize that risk. That’s what you want to do. But right now I think he’s doing well offensively, so I’m certainly not going to take that part of his game away from him.”
The Boston Bruins have made an emergency recall, bringing up defenseman Kevan Miller from AHL Providence.
Miller, 26, was summoned from Providence to replace Dennis Seidenberg, who was injured during Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the New York Rangers. The specifics of Seidenberg’s injury are unclear, but it’s believed to be a lower-body issue.
Already without Adam McQuaid (hip), the B’s were forced to dig deep into their defense depth with this recall. While the club likes Miller’s toughness and tenacity, he wasn’t projected to be in the mix this season — he’s never actually played in an NHL contest, spending his entire four-year pro career in the American League.
Boston plays St. Louis on Thursday night, and it’s very likely Miller will be making his NHL debut.
There was some good news for the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
They generated a 44-22 shot disparity against the Boston Bruins and Rick Nash returned to action. Despite that, the Boston Bruins won 2-1:
Note: you know things are getting a little frosty in New York when fans give a “Bronx cheer” to Henrik Lundqvist.
Pat LaFontaine (pictured) and the Buffalo Sabres have received permission from Boston to speak with Bruins assistant GM Jim Benning, according to a wide variety of sources, including CSNNE.com.
Numerous reports indicate that Benning joins the following list of candidates: Jason Botterill, Rick Dudley and Paul Fenton. The CBC’s Elliotte Friedman points out that Benning, Botterill and Dudley have some connections to the Buffalo organization.
(For more on Botterill, click here.)
CSNNE.com points out that Benning came over to Boston in 2006 after serving scouting duties with the Sabres. The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa tweets that Benning was in Buffalo when they drafted players including Dennis Wideman and Daniel Paille.
Friedman provides some insight, asking how Benning would feel if the Sabres believe that their rebuild can be a quick one:
I’d love to hear Benning’s answer to this question. His playing career was hurt when Toronto Maple Leafs rushed him (with Fred Boimistruck and Bob McGill) in 1981. He is probably the least known of the candidates. But it was a huge loss (and Boston’s gain) when he left during the Tom Golisano era. Benning has some very big fans in the scouting community. “Do not sleep on his chances,” one source said.