While the Calgary Flames are not be happy with the outcome of last night’s 4-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues, they weren’t too down on themselves.
“I rarely say after a 4-0 loss, ‘We played a decent game,’ ” Flames head coach Bob Hartley told the Calgary Sun. They simply had their hands full with a great team playing an effective game in front of a solid goaltender. Blues netminder Brian Elliott got some help, but he also did his part, stopping 25 shots, and in the process made a little bit of history.
That was his 21st shutout since he joined the Blues in 2011-12, which is a new franchise best. He beat former teammate Jaroslav Halak’s mark of 20 shutouts.
“It’s definitely something you don’t really think about, franchise records,” Elliott said, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I didn’t even see myself in St. Louis four years ago. So it’s kind of weird. But it was a complete team effort, and these past four years, guys have been putting their bodies on the line to block shots and really playing hard in front of me. It’s definitely a testament to these last four years that I’ve been here.”
Elliott has a 2.11 GAA, .922 save percentage, and five shutouts in 40 contests this season. Those are impressive numbers, but given the 29-year-old’s relative lack of playoff experience (he’s played in 18 games), it will be interesting to see how he does, especially seeing as expectations are high for St. Louis this year.
A potentially interesting development in St. Louis, where Barret Jackman — one of only three Blues to have played all 69 games this year — will be parked in the press box for tonight’s tilt against Calgary.
Nobody’s really sure why this is happening. It could be nothing more than a rest opportunity as Jackman, who just turned 34, is the second-oldest player on the team. It could also allow head coach Ken Hitchcock to see some of his newer d-men, specifically deadline acquisitions Robert Bortuzzo and Zbynek Michalek, in larger, more expanded roles.
Thing is, Hitchcock wouldn’t say why he scratched Jackman — “I’m not going back and forth on who we’re sitting out everyday,” he told the Post-Dispatch — and Jackman wasn’t made available to the media following today’s skate.
That left the talking to captain David Backes.
“I’m sure he’s not pleased by any means,” Backes said of Jackman. “It’s extremely tough to see a guy that puts it all on the line every night to be sitting out.
“If he’s not playing tonight, he’ll be ready for the next one.”
If feathers do end up ruffled here, it won’t be the first time. Two weeks ago, Hitchcock rattled the cage of goalie Brian Elliott by putting him in after Vancouver scored four times on Jake Allen, only to quickly go back to Allen after Elliott allowed one goal on six shots.
Hitchcock later said Elliott was “mad” about having to come out, and that he had to tell veteran goalie to relax.
All the latest from the blue paint…
Neuvirth faces ‘Hawks
The New York Islanders are looking to avoid their longest losing streak of the season tonight, but will have to do it without the services of their No. 1 netminder.
Jaroslav Halak will miss this evening’s tilt in Chicago with a lower-body injury, meaning Michal Neuvirth will try to keep the Isles’ skid from extending to four games.
Neuvirth, acquired at the trade deadline from Buffalo in exchange for Chad Johnson, has started three games for the Isles, going 1-1-1 with a .889 save percentage and 2.57 GAA. In his last outing, a 3-1 loss to Montreal on Saturday, Neuvirth allowed just two goals on 29 shots and finished with a .931 save percentage, his best outing as an Islander to date.
For the ‘Blackhawks, Corey Crawford will get the start in goal.
Pens at Devils: Thomas Greiss (probable) vs. Cory Schneider
Sens at ‘Canes: Andrew Hammond vs. Anton Khudobin
Sabres at Bruins: (No Buffalo starter yet) vs. Niklas Svedberg
Habs at Panthers: Dustin Tokarski (probable) vs. Dan Ellis
Wild at Preds: Devan Dubnyk vs. Pekka Rinne (probable)
Sharks at Jets: Antti Niemi vs. Ondrej Pavelec
Blues at Flames: Brian Elliott vs. Jonas Hiller
Flyers at Canucks: No starters yet for either team.
There’s not much to this post, but sometimes, you just want to feast your eyes on some big-time goals.
First, let’s check out Vladimir Tarasenko’s sinister snipe against the Dallas Stars, which served as a game-winner for the St. Louis Blues in a 3-0 decision:
That goal marks Tarasenko’s 34th of 2014-15.
Philadelphia Flyers winger Jakub Voracek has had a fantastic season, but he was struggling to score even-strength goals, until he beat Ottawa Senators goalie Andrew Hammond with this one:
Voracek still has 21 goals this season anyway, so it’s not like he’s been totally snake-bitten.
All the latest from the blue paint…
Ottawa sticks with Andrew Hammond
Ottawa is seven points back in the battle for a Wild Card spot with just 15 games remaining in its schedule. Under those desperate circumstances, the Senators are putting their fate in the hands of 27-year-old rookie Andrew Hammond. Given that Hammond hasn’t allowed more than two goals in any of his 11 appearances this season, it’s hard to fault Senators coach Dave Cameron for his desire to ride the hot hand.
The Senators will be challenged by the Philadelphia Flyers, which are coming off of a 7-2 victory over Detroit on Saturday. Steve Mason played in that contest, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see former Senators goalie Ray Emery start to provide Mason with a breather.
Panthers at Rangers: Dan Ellis will probably start for Florida while Cam Talbot has been confirmed for New York.
Canes at Blue Jackets: No word yet on Carolina, but there’s a good chance it will be Anton Khudobin after Cam Ward played Saturday. Sergei Bobrovsky will get the nod for Columbus.
Blues at Stars: Jake Allen will start for St. Louis. Nothing’s confirmed for Dallas, but it will likely be Kari Lehtonen.
Bruins at Capitals: Bruins coach Claude Julien wouldn’t reveal Sunday’s starter, but Braden Holtby will probably play for Washington.
Preds at Ducks: Nothing’s confirmed, but it will likely be starters Pekka Rinne and Frederik Andersen between the pipes.