Pre-game reading: On the ‘rapid extinction of the short goalie’

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— Up top, if you missed it last night, David Backes dropped the gloves in his return to St. Louis. It wasn’t the wildest scrap you’ll ever see, but the fans seemed to enjoy it all the same.

— There aren’t many short goalies enjoying success in the NHL these days. Heck, there aren’t many short goalies in the NHL, period. Jhonas Enroth (5-foot-10) is the shortest, and he’s had a terrible season. Anton Khudobin, listed at 5-foot-11, is short for a modern-day goalie, and he’s had a terrrible season too. Jaroslav Halak is 5-foot-11, aaaand he’s had a terrible season. It’s all made columnist Ryan Kennedy wonder about “the rapid extinction of the short goalie” — a topic we’ve covered ourselves in the past. (Hockey News)

— The Blackhawks are winning games, and they’re getting great goaltending. But if the goal is to win another championship, should they be worried about their possession stats? “During five-on-five play, the Hawks were 14th in the league entering Monday in Corsi For at 50.2 percent, according to the statistical website Corsica.hockey. That is significantly below where they were in each of their Cup winning seasons. In 2009-10, they were first in the league at 56.6 percent. In the lockout-shortened 2013 season, they were fourth at 54.1 percent. And in 2014-15, they were second at 53.6 percent.” (Chicago Tribune)

— Coyotes goalie Mike Smith was so surprised that he’d been named to the All-Star Game, he actually thought he’d been traded when John Chayka left him a voicemail to say there was news. “I wasn’t looking forward to the call back,” said Smith. “I think you think the worst when your general manager calls you on your bye week.” (NHL.com)

— Odd story here: “Vancouver Canucks winger Daniel Sedin unwittingly took a scenic helicopter trip last week with a longtime gangster who has served time in the U.S. for drug smuggling. Anti-gang police warned the Canucks about the history of Edward (Skeeter) Russell after Postmedia News obtained a photo of Russell and Sedin that the convicted smuggler posted on social media last week.” (Postmedia)

— Great to see former NHLer Wojtek Wolski in good spirits. Wolski suffered a frightening injury in October during a KHL game. “I never thought I’d say I got lucky after breaking my neck,” he said. “But it really could have been a lot worse.” (Instagram)

Enjoy the games!