St. Louis Blues

Pens and Blues combine for another trade, flip Bortuzzo for Cole


The Blues and Pens have combined for another deal.

Just one month after the Marcel Goc-for-Maxim Lapierre trade, the Pens sent Roberto Bortuzzo to St. Louis in exchange for Ian Cole. The Blues also get a seventh-round pick at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

Bortuzzo, 25, has appeared in 38 games this year, averaging 15:28 TOI while scoring six points. His most noteworthy moment came in early December, when he was suspended a pair of games for a hit on then-Devils forward Jaromir Jagr.

Cole, 26, is a former first-round pick (18th overall, 2007) that’s had his finest NHL season to date this year, posting career-highs in games (54) and goals (five). He’s been in and out of the St. Louis lineup lately, though, dealing with an upper-body injury while occasionally serving as a healthy scratch.

Monetarily, this deal is a wash. Cole is a pending RFA in the last of a two-year, $1.65 million deal with an $825,000 cap hit, while Bortuzzo is also a pending RFA with a $600,000 hit.

Blues beef up defense, acquire Michalek from Coyotes


The St. Louis Blues have bolstered their defensive depth for the playoffs, acquiring veteran Zbynek Michalek and a conditional third-round pick from Arizona, per ESPN.

UPDATE: Per ESPN, prospect Maxim Letunov is on his way to Arizona. The Russian forward was St. Louis’ second-round pick (52nd overall) at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, and is currently playing in the USHL.

Michalek, 32, has appeared in 53 games for the Coyotes this season but is currently sidelined with a concussion. Prior to getting hurt, he was averaging over 21 minutes a night and was one of the league’s top shot-blockers — he currently sits 12th in the NHL, with 130.

In St. Louis, he’ll join a blueline that’s relatively stacked with Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Pietrangelo, Carl Gunnarsson, Petteri Lindbohm, Ian Cole and Barret Jackman comprising the top-six. Once Michalek and Kevin Shattenkirk return from injury, Cole and Lindbohm are the two most likely to be dropped out of the lineup, but the pair will give head coach Ken Hitchcock nice depth options in the postseason.

For Arizona…well, the tank is officially on. The club has lost nine straight and shipped out three key pieces in Michalek, Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle over the last 48 hours. The Coyotes are now in a legit dogfight for top spot in the McEichel sweeps, along with Buffalo and Edmonton.

That said, Coyotes GM Don Maloney seems pleased with landing Letunov.

“Maxim is a big, skilled center with excellent upside,” Maloney said, in a statement. “He will play at Boston University next season who do a great job developing players We are excited to have him join our organization.”

Update: Michalek updated his current health status, per’s Lou Korac…

Worth pointing out that Michalek isn’t coming to St. Louis cheaply — he’s on a five-year, $20 million contract with a $4M annual cap hit. That said, he is in the last year of that deal and an unrestricted free agent on July 1 — and Arizona will reportedly retain 50 percent of Michalek’s salary.

Hitchcock clears the air regarding the Blues’ goaltending situation


The St. Louis Blues did an excellent job of battling back from a 5-2 third period deficit to earn a single point in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.

However, there was some confusion over the Blues’ goaltending situation.

After allowing four goals on 21 shots, Jake Allen was pulled in favor of Brian Elliott. Elliott backstopped the Blues to a 2-1 win on Saturday and was supposed to have the night off.

Elliott allowed one goal on six shots before leaving the game early in the third period.

Allen returned and finished the game.

Elliott appeared agitated when leaving leading some to speculate the goaltender had pulled himself from the game.

Post-game Ken Hitchcock cleared the air.

The Blues’ coach said he pulled Elliott from the game.

“I was thinking, ‘All I’ve gotta do is get him hurt,'” said Hitchcock per Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Hitchcock was then asked if Elliott pulled himself.

“No, that was me,” Hitchcock said. “He was mad he was coming out. I just told him to relax.”

Allen didn’t seem thrilled about going back into the game.

With the point in the loss the Blues move four points back of the Central Division-leading Nashville Predators.

Goalie nods: Ducks give another start to Gibson

All the latest from the crease …

Giving Gibson the ball

Could we see at least a mild goalie battle for the Anaheim Ducks, albeit a few months later than expected?

Going into the season, it seemed like John Gibson and Frederik Andersen would trade starts on a playoff-caliber team. Anaheim’s remained a playoff team, but Andersen ran with the top job when Gibson got hurt. Now Gibson seems like he’s taking advantage of the opportunity he received when Andersen was injured.

The interesting wrinkle is that Andersen seems ready to play again, yet as the OC Register’s Eric Stephens notes, head coach Bruce Boudreau is going with the “winning hand” in Gibson.

While Andersen’s record (29-8-5) towers over that of Gibson (7-5-0), his .916 save percentage is only slightly shinier than Gibson’s .914 mark. Perhaps Boudreau will merely ride the hot/winning hand for the rest of 2014-15, then?

Sunday serves as a good opportunity for another win for Gibson – at least on paper – as the Ducks face the struggling Dallas Stars with Jhonas Enroth in net.

Elsewhere …

Kings at Jets: Likely Jonathan Quick, while Michael Hutchinson is a safe bet.

Blue Jackets at Penguins: Curtis McElhinney vs. Marc-Andre Fleury.

Lightning at Panthers: A good chance of Ben Bishop, while Al Montoya is confirmed.

Leafs at Capitals: Leaning toward James Reimer vs. Braden Holtby, but neither team has confirmed those choices.

Blues at Canucks: Jake Allen vs. Eddie Lack.

Goalie Nods: Mason returns for the Flyers

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Mason looks for his first win vs. Rangers

Steve Mason will make his first start since Feb. 8 tonight when the Flyers play host to the New York Rangers. Mason allowed one goal on nine shots in relief of Rob Zepp on Thursday night. Mason is 0-2-0 with a 2.59 G.A.A. and .914 save percentage in two starts against New York.

Cam Talbot, who has shutout the Flyers twice this season, gets the nod for the Rangers.


Hurricanes at Islanders: Cam Ward vs. Chad Johnson

Devils at Blue Jackets: Cory Schneider vs. Curtis McElhinney

Coyotes at Bruins: Mike Smith vs. Tuukka Rask

Maple Leafs at Canadiens: Jonathan Bernier vs. Carey Price

Wild at Avalanche: Devan Dubnyk vs. Semyon Varlamov (unconfirmed)

Blues at Oilers: Brian Elliott vs. Ben Scrivens (likely)

Senators at Sharks: Andrew Hammond vs. Antti Niemi