Get your game notes: Blues at Devils

Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the New Jersey Devils hosting the St. Louis Blues at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Even with STL’s forward line combinations in flux this season due to a series of injuries and illnesses, RW Vladimir Tarasenko has stepped up, scoring 6 goals in his last 4 games and powering the Blues to a 5-game win streak heading into tonight.

• Top forwards David Backes (concussion), T.J. Oshie (concussion), Joakim Lindstrom (bacterial infection) and Paul Stastny (shoulder) have all missed time this season, causing Blues coach Ken Hitchcock to use whatever combination “pops out of the blender” during morning skate for his starting top line. Backes and Lindstrom are now back, but Oshie and Stastny are not expected to play tonight.

• Tarasenko leads STL with 13 points (7G-6A) this season. The 22-year-old Russian, who told NHL.com he talks to his grandfather Vladimir after every game, had his first career hat trick in a 4-3 OT win over DAL last week. He scored a highlight-reel power-play goal in regulation and the shootout winner in STL’s 4-3 (SO) victory over NYR on Monday. But his grandfather always tells him “it’s only one night” and “tomorrow” is always the most important.

• Tarasenko previously played with Blues teammate Jori Lehtera at Sibir Novosibirsk of the KHL and represented Russia at the 2014 Sochi Games.

• NJ has won 3 of its last 4 games, but in all 3 of those victories the Devils have had to come from behind, which has frustrated their two Czech veterans, 42-year-old RW Jaromir Jagr and 38-year-old C Patrik Elias. NJ beat OTT, 3-2 (OT), on Oct. 25 and ended their 0-for-18 shootout game skid with a 2-1 (SO) win over WPG on Thursday before beating CBJ, 3-2, on Saturday.

• Jagr after beating CBJ: “I’m getting frustrated. We’re just wasting energy away and we don’t make plays. The third period comes and you’re going to put it together, and the power is here to win the hockey games, but we can make it so much easier for ourselves and more enjoyable by playing games the right way.”

• Elias after beating CBJ: “We’re not skating as well as we should, for whatever reason. You saw how we played in the first few games of the season. For six or seven games, even though we lost some of them, we were still playing well. That’s what we’ve got to get back to.”

• This is NJ’s first season since 1992-93 without G Martin Brodeur – the NHL’s all-time wins leader (688) – starting in net. After facing questions on whether he could handle Brodeur’s workload, American G Cory Schneider has started all 11 of the team’s games, posting a 6-3-2 record, 2.83 GAA and .909 SV%.

QUICK HITS

• 101st regular-season meeting and the first of 2 meetings this season between STL and NJ. They will play again on Thursday in STL.

• STL leads all-time series 49-36-14-1 (W-L-T-OL).

• Last season, NJ won 7-1 at home on Jan. 21, and STL won 3-0 at home on Jan. 28. In the first game, 7 different players scored goals for NJ.

STANDOUT STATS

• STL: Since 2013, the Blues’ .781 (12-3-1 record) winning percentage in the month of November is the best in the NHL (Per Elias).

• NJ: 10-for-38 on the power play this season (26.3% – 3rd best in NHL).

• NJ: 33-for-48 on the penalty kill this season. (68.8% – 2nd worst in NHL).

MILESTONE TRACKER

• NJ: RW Jaromir Jagr needs 1 goal to tie Mike Gartner for 6th on the all-time goal list with 708. Jagr already has the most career goals among active NHL players with 707.

NOTABLE INJURIES

• STL: C Paul Stastny (shoulder) and RW T.J. Oshie (concussion) are both day-to-day.

• NJ: LW Mike Cammalleri (jaw/neck) and RW Jordin Tootoo (foot) are both day-to-day.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

• STL: C David Backes: 1G-5A in 7 career GP vs. NJ.

• STL: LW Alexander Steen: 2G in 2 GP vs. NJ last season, including one game-winner.

• NJ: RW Damien Brunner / D Eric Gelinas: Both had 1G-2A in NJ’s 7-1 win over STL on Jan. 21 last season.

• NJ: RW Jaromir Jagr: 8G-16A, including 3 PPG, in 27 career GP vs. STL.

BLUES TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Captain C David Backes, a two-time U.S. Olympian, returned to the lineup on Nov. 1 vs. COL after missing one game with a concussion. He was third on STL with 57 points last season, but has just 2G-3A so far this season, putting him seventh on the team with 5 points.

• RW T.J. Oshie is day-to-day after suffering a concussion vs. DAL on Oct. 30. He has 1 assist in 8 games this season, one in which he’s caring for both his 8-month-old daughter and his father with Alzheimer’s off the ice.

• Oshie became a worldwide star last February at the Sochi 2014 Games, converting 4 of 6 shootout attempts vs. Russia to give the U.S. a 3-2 victory in the preliminary round. He is 27-for-49 (55.1%) in shootouts in six-plus seasons with STL, including an NHL-leading 9 shootout goals last season. He is 0-for-1 on shootout attempts this season.

• D Alex Pietrangelo, part of Canada’s gold-medal winning Sochi 2014 Olympic team, leads STL this season with 25:38 TOI/G. For the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative, he shaved his head in late October to support his girlfriend’s niece, Ellie, who was diagnosed with cancer last August.

• Following the departures of G Jaroslav Halak and G Ryan Miller, G Brian Elliott took over as the team’s top goaltender to start the season despite having never played more than 38 games in a season in three years with STL. Because Elliott played Monday against NYR, G Jake Allen is expected to make the start at NJ tonight.

• STL is allowing 2.00 goals/game this season (T-6th best in NHL). Allen is 2-1-0 in 3 starts so far in his first full NHL season with a 1.34 GAA and .944 SV%.

DEVILS TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• C Adam Henrique leads NJ with 9 points (4G-5A) this season and has an upbringing unlike any of his teammates. Henrique and his three brothers were raised on a family tobacco farm in Burford, Ontario, and it was his job to prime the leaves.

• In May 2012, Henrique told the New York Times that priming tobacco growing up made him chase a career in hockey a little harder: “You’re like this, picking leaves, putting the leaves in your bag, and the leaves are hitting you in the face, and it’s wet. You got tar all over you, and you’ve got an 80-pound bag that you’re filling up. It’s no fun.”

• Henrique is expected to be put on the same line with C Patrik Elias tonight to give the Devils offense a jolt. Elias has gone 10 straight games without a goal.

• At 42, RW Jaromir Jagr is in his 21st season with his 7th NHL team and is tied for second on NJ with 8 points this season. He leads all active players in goals (707), assists (1,056), points (1,763) and games played (1,484).

• The 5-time Olympian and 5-time Art Ross Trophy winner (NHL scoring leader) is one of 25 players in the Triple Gold Club, having won two Stanley Cups with PIT (1991, 1992), an Olympic gold with the Czech Republic (1998) and two IIHF World Championships with the Czech Republic (2005, 2010).

• D Damon Severson, 22 years younger than Jagr, already has 4G-4A and in 21:59 TOI/G in his rookie season.

ProHockeyTalk’s 2020 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker

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The Pro Hockey Talk NHL Trade Deadline Tracker is your one-stop shop for all completed deals. The 2020 NHL trade deadline is Monday, Feb. 24 at 3 p.m. ET.

NHL Trade Deadline candidates
Non-UFAs who could move
Teams that need to be most active at trade deadline

Feb. 16, 2020 (PHT analysis)
New Jersey Devils: 2020 first-round pick, Nolan Foote
Tampa Bay Lightning: Blake Coleman

Feb. 16, 2020 (PHT analysis)
New Jersey Devils: 2021 second-round pick, David Quenneville
New York Islanders: Andy Greene

Feb. 10, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Pittsburgh Penguins: Jason Zucker
Minnesota Wild: Alex Galchenyuk, Calen Addison, conditional 2020 or 2021 first-round pick

Feb. 5, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Toronto Maple Leafs
: Jack Campbell, Kyle Clifford
Los Angeles Kings: Trevor Moore, 2020 third-round pick, conditional third-round pick in 2021

Jan. 17, 2020
Dallas Stars:
Oula Palve
Pittsburgh Penguins: 
John Nyberg

Jan. 7, 2020
Nashville Predators: Michael McCarron
Montreal Canadiens: Laurent Dauphin

Jan. 2, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Buffalo Sabres: Michael Frolik
Calgary Flames: 2020 fourth-round pick (originally owned by San Jose)

Jan. 2, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Montreal Canadiens: Marco Scandella
Buffalo Sabres: 2020 fourth-round pick (originally owned by San Jose)

Jan. 2, 2020
Ottawa Senators: Mike Reilly
Montreal Canadiens: Andrew Sturtz, 2021 fifth-round pick

Avalanche injuries: Grubauer out with lower-body injury; Calvert to miss ‘weeks’

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After being injured in the 2020 Stadium Series game on Saturday, Colorado Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer will not be in the lineup on Monday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning due to a lower-body injury.

Even more concerning for the Avalanche, there is no current timetable for his return.

“I don’t really have a timeline on it,” said Avalanche coach Jared Bednar on Monday, via NHL.com. “He’s still getting evaluated, he’s still going through some testing or training room or whatnot. I’ll have a better answer probably later in the week. Right now he’s day to day and could miss some time.”

Grubauer is 18-12-4 this season for the Avalanche with a .916 save percentage.

He was injured on Saturday during a collision with teammate Ian Cole.

You can see the play here.

Pavel Francouz, who has been outstanding this season, will take over the main goaltending duties for as long as Grubauer is sidelined.

Hunter Miska will serve as the backup.

Even if Grubauer only misses time this week that could still be as many as four games. The Avalanche’s standing as a playoff team is secure, but they are still in a fight for the top spot in the Central Division as well as home-ice advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs. It doesn’t seem to be serious enough at this point to force a trade to add some depth, but it’s still an injury worth watching. The Avalanche should still be in good hands with Francouz as their starter in the short-term, but things could get a little complicated when it comes to potential playoff seeding if it is an injury that lingers.

In other Avalanche injury news, forward Matt Calvert is also expected to be sidelined for a couple of weeks with a lower-body injury of his own.

In 50 games this season Calvert has 12 goals and 25 total points. He played 12:47 of the Stadium Series game on Saturday.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

NHL Power Rankings: Lightning keep getting stronger

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In this week’s NHL Power Rankings the Tampa Bay Lightning climb back to the top spot thanks in part to yet another 10-game winning streak.

Yes. Another 10-game winning streak.

Their current streak entering play on Monday is their second 10-game winning streak since Dec. 22. During that time they are 22-2-1, have 10 more points than any other team in the league, and own a .900 points percentage. No other team in the league has a points percentage better than .762 during that stretch.

What makes this particular run even more impressive is that they have recently been hit hard by injuries with Ryan McDonagh, Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Anthony Cirelli all missing some time in recent games, while each of their past seven wins have come against teams currently in a playoff spot. That includes two wins against a Pittsburgh team that has the second-best record in the league since the middle of December.

As if that is not enough, they went out on Sunday and added Blake Coleman from the New Jersey Devils, giving them another 20-goal scorer, an outstanding penalty killer, and steal against the salary cap through next season.

They are easily in the top spot entering the week.

Where does every other team sit?

To the rankings!

1. Tampa Bay Lightning. They paid a lot to get Blake Coleman but if he helps them bring the Stanley Cup back to Tampa Bay no one is going to care.

2. Boston Bruins. The race between the Lightning and Bruins for the top spot in the East — and the Presidents’ Trophy — is going to be great. They play each other twice during a four-game stretch in early March.

3. Pittsburgh Penguins. Jim Rutherford finally acquired Jason Zucker, and he should be a great fit for both this season and future seasons.

4. Colorado Avalanche. The superstars at the top of the lineup are the foundation, while the added scoring depth over the summer is what makes them a Stanley Cup contender. All of the salary cap space they have to play with could help put them over the top.

5. Washington Capitals. Their lead in the division is quickly disappearing, but they still have three games remaining against the team they are competing with (Pittsburgh).

6. Dallas Stars. They enter the week tied for first place in the Central Division with St. Louis, and while Colorado is just two points back with two games still in hand, they have made this a three-team race.

7. New York Islanders. A defenseman may not have been my first choice for their trade deadline acquisition, but they really did need a replacement for Adam Pelech on the blue line. Andy Greene fits that. Now, go get a forward that can score.

8. Edmonton Oilers. It would be really something if, after Connor McDavid lost out on winning the MVP award the past two years because his team was not any good, that the Oilers return to the playoffs this year and McDavid again loses the MVP, this to his teammate, Leon Draisaitl.

9. Philadelphia Flyers. The Metropolitan Division is insane. The Flyers have one the 10 best records in the league, have won 10 of their past 16 games, and are still probably only about 50-50 shot to make the playoffs right now.

10. Carolina Hurricanes. Everything we just said about the Flyers? Yeah. The same thing applies here.

11. St. Louis Blues. Maybe you think this is too low for the defending champs — who are still one of the top teams in the West, I might add — but they enter the week with just two wins in their past 12 games, and one of those wins was a shootout win over Calgary. They are struggling right now in a big way.

12. Toronto Maple Leafs. Jack Campbell went into Toronto with huge expectations and a ton of pressure on him for a backup goalie, but he has handled it well so far.

13. Columbus Blue Jackets. Maybe the injuries are starting to catch up to them a little bit. Seth Jones is going to be impossible to replace. They have lost five in a row (three in overtime or shootout) and just gave up a point on Sunday to a bad Devils team that is in the process of getting rid of everything that is not nailed to the floor.

14. New York Rangers. They are playing in the wrong division to make a serious playoff push at this point in the season, but they are 11-6-0 in their past 17 games and on a 90-point pace for the season. They are not far away.

15. Vegas Golden Knights. The coaching change has not really changed much in terms of their results. It probably will not until they add to their blue line and get better goaltending.

16. Nashville Predators. They open the week just a point out of a playoff spot with multiple games in hand. They will be a problem for teams if they get in.

17. Vancouver Canucks. There is not a more underrated goalie in the NHL right now than Jacob Markstrom. He may not be one of the elites, but he has been a well above average goalie and stabilizing presence for the Canucks since taking over the job.

18. Minnesota Wild. A coaching change seemed inevitable at some point, but the timing is weird just as the Wild were starting to make a push.

19. Winnipeg Jets. They are sticking with Paul Maurice beyond this season, but with all due respect to him and his job behind the bench the Jets’ ability to stay in the playoff race is entirely on the shoulders of starting goalie Connor Hellebuyck.

20. Florida Panthers. They are trending in the wrong direction, which has to be a massive disappointment given the investment they put into this season.

21. Calgary Flames. Goaltending was probably the biggest question on this team entering the season and, quite honestly, it has been fine. That is what makes their overall performance such a letdown. Everyone else has disappointed.

22. Arizona Coyotes. They are hanging onto a playoff spot by a thread after winning just four out of their past 16 games.

23. Buffalo Sabres. They have won four out of five, and Sunday’s win against Toronto had to be especially satisfying. Not enough to fix the mess this season has become, but it is at least something.

24. Chicago Blackhawks. Honestly can not think of a good reason why this team would not sell players like Robin Lehner and Erik Gustafsson before the trade deadline.

25. Montreal Canadiens. The recent Shea Weber injury timeline has been a roller coaster of emotions and updates.

26. San Jose Sharks. It would be for the best if the Sharks could just pretend this season never happened. Bad, disappointing team and significant injuries to some of the team’s best players. Adding to the misery: Their lottery pick belongs to the Ottawa Senators. Yikes.

27. Anaheim Ducks. The lack of offense on this team is staggering. They desperately need some of their young players to make a big leap next season.

28. New Jersey Devils. Taylor Hall, Andy Greene, and Blake Coleman are already out the door. Who is next?

29. Ottawa Senators. Anthony Duclair was the one pleasant surprise on this team this season and even that has disappeared. He has not scored a goal since Dec. 23, a stretch of more than 20 games entering Monday.

30. Los Angeles Kings. It seems to be a broken record at this point in the season but the Kings are facing a key stage of their rebuild.

31. Detroit Red Wings. Not a stretch to say this is the single worst team of the modern era. Excluding first-year expansion teams it might be one of the worst teams the NHL has ever seen.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Canadiens say Shea Weber could return Tuesday

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Maybe his injury isn’t as severe as initially feared. Or maybe it’s the last act of a desperate team trying to do anything it can to salvage its season before it continues to spiral down the drain. Whatever the reason, there appears to be a very real chance that defenseman Shea Weber could return to the Montreal Canadiens’ lineup on Tuesday night against the Detroit Red Wings.

Coach Claude Julien announced on Monday that Weber — along with injured forward Paul Byron — could be in the lineup on Tuesday.

Keep in mind we are just five days removed from the Canadiens announcing that Weber would be sidelined 4-6 weeks due to a sprained ankle.

Weber added (via Sportsnet’s Eric Engels) on Monday that doctors have told him he can not do any more damage to his injured ankle, and that while he is obviously not 100 percent he still feels good to go.

He has been sidelined since Feb. 4, a stretch that has seen the Canadiens win just two of their past six games to continue to fall out of playoff contention.

They enter the week nine points out of a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. They are eight points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. Adding to their current deficit is they have also played more games than every team ahead of them in the standings. In other words: The playoffs are more than a long shot.

When you combine that with Weber’s age, as well as the way injuries have piled up for him over the years it’s a little bit of a surprise to see his timeline accelerated that way it has been. Weber is having an outstanding season and is still an excellent player when healthy, but injuries have already sidelined him for 90 games during his Canadiens’ tenure over the past four years. That’s more than 30 percent of the possible games.

Hockey’s culture loves to glorify the warrior mentality of a player playing through pain for the good of the team. And it is hard to tell a player that they shouldn’t — or can’t — play. But at some point you have to wonder when it is no longer worth the risk. Even if doctors are pretty sure he can’t do anymore damage to this particular injury by playing, you’re still talking about a 34-year-old player (who you still owe a TON of money to over the next several years), with a lengthy injury history, playing on a bad ankle for a team that probably has less than a 5 percent chance of making the playoffs at this point. Aside from legitimate questions as to how impactful he might be given the circumstances, who is to say that playing on a bad ankle couldn’t lead to a different injury? At some point you have to wonder when it’s no longer worth the risk and just let the guy rest and get healthy and realize there is still a bigger picture at play here than a futile attempt to salvage a lost season.

Related: Canadiens’ Shea Weber expected to miss 4-6 weeks due to ankle injury

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

NHL on NBCSN: Ovechkin’s chase for 700 continues against Vegas

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Monday’s matchup between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin is still searching for goal no. 700. Since scoring a hat trick against the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 4 (those three goals got him to 698), he hasn’t been able to find the back of the net since. Can he reach the milestone against Vegas tonight?

Ovechkin’s goal drought is at a season-long four games. Clearly, the offense was bound to dry up at some point because he couldn’t keep rolling at the pace he was on. The Capitals captain had scored 14 goals in his previous seven games before the slump. This is still unfortunate timing with the entire hockey world watching and waiting though.

Eventually, he’ll become the eighth player to hit the 700-goal mark. He’ll be joining: Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Jaromir Jagr, Brett Hull, Marcel Dionne, Phil Esposito and Mike Gartner.

If it doesn’t happen against Vegas, he’ll have an opportunity to get it on home ice against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. If that doesn’t work out, he’ll get a road game in New Jersey on Saturday afternoon and a primetime NBC matchup on Sunday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

All we, as hockey fans, can do is wait patiently for him to get going offensively again.

By comparison, let’s see how long the other members of the 700-goal club waited to hit that mark:

• Wayne Gretzky:

He scored his 700th career goal while he was a member of the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 3, 1991. In a game against the New York Islanders, Gretzky managed to beat Glenn Healy with a backhander in the first period.

Gretzky’s 699th goal was scored against the Montreal Canadiens at the Montreal Forum on Dec. 29, 1990. He only had to sit on 699 for two games before he finally hit the milestone.

• Gordie Howe: 

Howe scored his 700th goal of his career on Dec. 4, 1968 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Getting boxscores from the 60’s is a little difficult, but thanks to this Sports Illustrated article, we know that Howe scored no. 699 on Thanksgiving night in 1968 (Nov. 28) against Glenn Hall and the St. Louis Blues. So in all, it took him two games to score no. 700 (he was held scoreless against the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 1).

• Jaromir Jagr: 

Jagr scored his milestone marker on Mar. 1 2014, while playing for the New Jersey Devils. He scored no. 700 against the New York Islanders on a Sunday. The goal, which was assisted by Travis Zajac and Andy Greene, was his 19th of that season. Goal no. 699 came against Columbus in the previous game, which means Jagr didn’t drag out the process at all.

• Brett Hull: 

Hull reached the 700 goal on Feb. 10, 2003 when he was a member of the Detroit Red Wings. The hall-of-fame sniper was going through a bit of a dry spell when he scored no. 700, as he was in the middle of a seven-game goal drought when he finally found the back of the net. That can’t be fun.

• Marcel Dionne:

On Oct. 31, 1987, Dionne beat New York Islanders goalie Kelly Hrudey from a very difficult angle to score his 700th career goal. Sure, the Rangers ended up losing the game 8-2, but that doesn’t really matter. Dionne’s goal came with just 33 seconds remaining in the game and it wasn’t the prettiest one he had ever scored. Dionne scored no. 699 against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 23, 1987. It took him almost four full games to reach the milestone.

• Phil Esposito: 

Esposito was in the exact same position Ovechkin is in right now. He was two goals away from 700 heading into a game against the Washington Capitals on Feb. 2, 1980. Esposito, who was with the Rangers at the time, scored no. 699 on the power play in the second period. Early in the third frame, he managed to find the back of the net again. The difference between Esposito and Ovechkin is that Esposito scored his 698th goal in the previous game. He wasted no time getting no. 700 out of the way.

• Mike Gartner: 

Gartner, like Ovechkin and Esposito was two goals away from no. 700 on the night he reached that incredible mark. He did it against the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 14, 1997. Gartner opened the scoring in the first period for 699 and he added the game-tying goal on the power play in the third frame. But like Esposito, Gartner didn’t waste any time once he hit 698, as he scored that one in the previous game.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.