St. Louis Blues

Goalie nods: Pickard replaces injured Varlamov; Roy says start would be ‘unfair’ to Berra

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Pickard starts, Berra backs up

Having gone 8-3-0 in their last 11, the Avs are on the fringe of playoff contention and —  with a win against Los Angeles and a Jets regulation loss in St. Louis tonight — would be just five points back of the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.

As such, Patrick Roy is replacing injured No. 1 netminder with AHL recall Calvin Pickard, rather than backup Reto Berra.

“It’s very simple. Reto’s been practicing really well and the three games he came in for relief he did a good job for us, but he hasn’t started a game since Nov. 25,” Roy explained, per the Denver Post. “It’d be unfair to put him in a situation like this, such an important game for us.

“All the games Calvin played for us, he played really well. He’s one of the reasons why we’re in the position today of still having a chance to make the playoffs.”

Pickard, 22, is 6-6-3 this year for Colorado, posting  a .936 save percentage and 2.18 GAA. Berra, who has spent most of the season in Roy’s doghouse, had a couple of decent relief outings in February — stopping 22 of 23 shots against the Coyotes and Predators — but didn’t look great in Sunday’s 3-2 win over Minnesota, allowing one goal on four shots after Varlamov left with a lower-body injury.

No word yet on who’ll start for the Kings tonight.

Elsewhere…

Rangers at Isles: Cam Talbot vs. Jaroslav Halak

Stars at Flyers: Kari Lehtonen (probable) vs. Steve Mason

Jackets at ‘Canes: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Cam Ward

Bolts at Habs: Ben Bishop vs. Carey Price

Bruins at Sens: Tuukka Rask vs. Craig Anderson

Jets at Blues: Michael Hutchinson vs. Brian Elliott

Devils at Wild: Cory Schneider vs. Devan Dubnyk

NHL on NBCSN: The Blackhawks look to extend their win streak to three games

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Chicago Blackhawks host the New York Rangers at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The New York Rangers will look for a third straight win over the Chicago Blackhawks, and first this season, when the two teams meet for the first time in 2014-15 tonight at the United Center.

It’s the first of two meetings between the two clubs in a 10-day stretch.

Chicago is 4-5-1 in the last 10 in the series with New York.

With Henrik Lundqvist sidelined, Cam Talbot is 9-2-3 with a 2.61 goals-against average and New York is 10-2-3.

The Rangers (39-17-7) are three points back of the Islanders for the Metropolitan Division lead and have four games in hand.

Tonight will be the first game in Chicago for Blackhawks draft pick Kevin Hayes, who signed with the Rangers as a free agent last summer.

Chicago (39-21-5) looks for a third straight win in nearly three months. The Blackhawks last won three straight as part of an eight-game winning streak Nov. 26-Dec. 11.

The Blackhawks trail the St. Louis Blues by four points for second spot in the Central Division while maintaining a four-point lead on fourth place Minnesota.

Corey Crawford gets the start in net for Chicago.

Tonight is the second of a five-game road trip for the Rangers. New York lost 2-1 in overtime to Detroit on Wednesday night.

Chicago wraps up a three-game home stand tonight. They’ll head west for games in Arizona and San Jose beginning Thursday night.

The two teams meet for a second and final time this season, in New York, on March 18.

Bernier lasts one period against Blues

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The first 20 minutes of the Toronto’s game against St. Louis tonight was all Blues as the Maple Leafs were outshot 17-5. Under those conditions, it’s hard to lay the blame at Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier’s feet for an early 3-0 deficit, but he was nevertheless pulled after 20 minutes in favor of James Reimer.

Bernier surrendered three goals, but he didn’t look terrible in any of those plays. Instead, credit should be given to Blues forwards Jaden Schwartz, T.J. Oshie, and Vladimir Tarasenko for their efforts. He could have also gotten more support from his teammates, with Oshie’s goal being perhaps the best example of that:

That was Oshie’s 300th point in 428 career games. Meanwhile, Bernier has allowed at least three goals in three of his last four starts.

While Toronto’s playoff hopes have long since vanished, Bernier has plenty left to fight for given that he’s scheduled to become a restricted free agent this summer.

Goalie Nods: Hutchinson gets a sixth straight start

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Michael Hutchinson gets the nod in Nashville

Michael Hutchinson will look to right the ship tonight in Nashville. The Jets’ goaltender allowed three goals on 17 shots in a loss to the Senators on Wednesday. Hutchinson has lost three of his last five games while posting a 2.57 GAA and .906 save percentage. The Jets have not won in Nashville this season and will look to avoid a third straight loss to the Preds.

Pekka Rinne, who has lost four in a row, gets the nod for Nashville.

Elsewhere…

Blues at Leafs: Brian Elliott vs. Jonathan Bernier

Stars at Lightning: Jhonas Enroth vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy

Islanders at Panthers: Michal Neuvirth vs. Dan Ellis

Sabres at Capitals: Anders Lindback (unconfirmed) vs. Braden Holtby

Avalanche at Blue Jackets: Semyon Varlamov vs. Curtis McElhinney

Canadiens at Coyotes: Carey Price vs. Mike Smith

Penguins at Kings: Marc-Andre Fleury (unconfirmed) vs. Jonathan Quick (unconfirmed).

Canucks at Sharks: Eddie Lack vs. Antti Niemi

Blues’ Jokinen raves about time in Toronto

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Olli Jokinen will make his St. Louis Blues debut tonight against a team he spent two weeks with in the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Jokinen, who had an assist in six games while averaging 14:18 in ice time, was dealt to the Blues on Monday just 14 days after Toronto acquired him in a trade with Nashville.

Despite his short tenure in Toronto, the veteran was impressed with how the Leafs’ organization takes care of its players.

“It was amazing to see in two weeks: Everything is first-class. It’s actually a great place to play,” said the 36-year-old per The Canadian Press.

Jokinen was particularly impressed with the meals and facilities at the players’ disposal.

“Everybody says it’s like the New York Yankees in baseball playing in Toronto,” he said. “I liked the two weeks. I don’t know why the free agents don’t want to sign here.”

As Jokinen joins his 10th NHL club in St. Louis, he said he didn’t mind the media spotlight in Toronto and offered up a little advice for his former mates.

“The guys have tendencies when things go well, they like to go read stuff about themselves,” Jokinen said. “They get in this cycle that they have to read about themselves all the time. But one [piece of] advice for the players that play in a Canadian market, or any market: At the end of the day, all that matters is what the coaches say, management says and your teammates. That’s it. And your wife. I think that’s all you need to do.”

Jokinen is also appreciative of Leafs GM Dave Nonis for keeping his word.

“A couple of weeks ago when I went [to Toronto] from Nashville, I talked to him on the phone and he was saying that he’ll try to do everything possible to move me to a playoff team, and he was a man of his word,” Jokinen said. “They could’ve done anything: They could’ve put me in the minors, they could’ve told me to stay home, ‘We just ate your salary.’ It was a very respectful move by Dave.”

In 54 games this season split between the Predators and Leafs, Jokinen has three goals, four assists and 28 penalty minutes.