PHT Morning Skate: Red Wings bring back Blashill; Hart for Giroux?

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at

• Hockey fans on Twitter have been leaving sticks outside their homes in honor of the Humboldt Broncos. (CTV News)

• The Syracuse Crunch players will wear the name “Humboldt” on their back during an upcoming game. They’ll sell the jerseys and donate the money to the ambulance company that was on the scene after the bus crash took place. (

• Some news and notes out of St. Louis: Vladimir Tarasenko will undergo shoulder surgery, GM Doug Armstrong took the blame for the team’s failures this season, and Jake Allen will be back in 2018-19. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Stanley Cup Playoffs streaming, schedule and more

• Despite missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, the Detroit Red Wings will bring Jeff Blashill back next season. (Detroit News)

• Many hockey fans agree that Taylor Hall and Nathan MacKinnon are the leading contenders for the Hart Trophy, but what about Claude Giroux? He was outstanding this year. (Broad Street Hockey)

• Despite what you may think, Ducks goalie John Gibson is not injury prone. (Anaheim Calling)

• According to reports out of Russia, Ilya Kovalchuk is headed to the New York Rangers. (Blue Shirt Banter)

• We’ve never seen anything like the Vegas Golden Knights. They’ve been an incredible story all year, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t facing pressure this postseason. (Sinbin.Vegas)

• Even though Ryan Suter‘s injury will prevent him from playing in the playoffs, he’ll still be cheering for his teammates from afar. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

• Generals Managers take a good amount of the blame when things go poorly, but the owners who leave them employed are also a big problem. Vice’s Dave Lozo had some fun writing up a fake Q&A with some of these general managers. (Vice)

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

Vladimir Tarasenko will have surgery on dislocated left shoulder

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Three days after missing the playoffs, the St. Louis Blues learned their star forward Vladimir Tarasenko will need surgery on Wednesday for a dislocated left shoulder.

Tarasenko was hurt in the first period of the regular-season finale on Saturday in Colorado. The Blues needed a point in the game to reach the playoffs, but lost 5-2.

Tarasenko revealed he had a dislocated shoulder while standing with his left arm in a sling Tuesday as teammates cleared out their lockers. The recovery after surgery can take up to six months.

”We’ll see how it goes,” Tarasenko said. ”It was a hard year all the way around.”

The 26-year-old led the team with 33 goals and 66 points. It was his lowest point total in four seasons. The Blues won 44 games this season and finished with 94 points.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Mike Yeo wrapped up his first full season as the Blues coach. St. Louis is 66-40-8 since Yeo replaced Ken Hitchcock as coach on Feb. 1, 2017. That’s the 10th-best regular-season record in the NHL in that period.

But it’s little consolation for a team missing the playoffs for the first time after six straight seasons. Two years ago, the Blues were playing for the conference championship.

”We understand we’ve taken a step back this year,” General Manager Doug Armstrong said. ”That lies firmly on my shoulders. My job is to deal in reality. The formula we had this year did not breed success and we need to find that formula.”

Armstrong said the play of special teams needs to improve.

The Blues were 30th on power-play success at 15.4 percent. They finished 18th in penalty killing at 79.7 percent. During the previous six seasons making the playoffs, the Blues ranked No. 1 in the NHL in penalty killing with a rate of 84.3 percent.

However, the Blues scored only 38 power-play goals.

”As a coaching staff, I promise you we won’t just sit around and just assume things will get better next year,” Yeo said. ”We have to look at everything from the way we manage it, operate it and holding guys accountable and the personnel we’re using and the tactics.”

When Yeo coached the Minnesota Wild, the power play also was stagnant.

”I’ll take responsibility for it,” Yeo said. ”I don’t dodge that. That’s on me.”

Armstrong backs his coach.

”Mike and I are tethered together and we’re going to figure this thing out,” Armstrong said.

St. Louis was just 24-17 on home ice this season.

”You can’t have the home record we had and be satisfied,” Armstrong said. ”The people that come here work for a living and we need to send them home happy. If we’re in the top 10 in home records, we’re in the playoffs.”

The salary cap should increase about $4 million for next season. Armstrong said the Blues ownership will continue to spend to the cap.

”We spend to the cap,” Armstrong said. ”We’ve had a good run here. We’ve got to get back to that.”

Goalie Jake Allen was signed to a four-year, $17.4 million contract on July 1, 2016. He finished with a 27-25-3 record, a 2.75 goals-against average, a .906 save percentage and one shutout.

”I definitely need to be more consistent,” Allen said. ”I know I’m capable of it. I don’t think I need to change much. I’m a pretty good goalie.”

Backup goaltender Carter Hutton is an unrestricted free agent. Hutton was 17-7-3 with a 2.09 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. He had three shutouts.

Armstrong said he wants to bring Hutton back.

Duncan Keith’s late winner helps strike blow to Blues’ playoff hopes


Duncan Keith‘s goal with 8.5 seconds to go broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues Wednesday night.

The Blues are still in pursuit of a wild card spot in the Western Conference, but with the loss remain a point behind the Colorado Avalanche with two games to go, including a Saturday night tilt vs. the Avs.

Chicago wanted to play spoiler for their Central Division rivals, with Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat saying before the game, “They’re a good team and they’re fighting for a playoff spot right now. We’re not going out there and just letting them take it. We want to crush their hopes.”

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

It was looking good for the Blues early in the second period when Vladimir Tarasenko gave the home side a 3-1 lead. But St. Louis and Jake Allen began to falter minutes later. Blackhawks rookie Blake Hillman jumped into the rush and scored his first NHL goal with Chicago on a power play to cut the deficit to 3-2 midway through the period.

With DeBrincat wanting to “crush their hopes,” he backed up his words and tied the game with 11:30 to go, thanks to some more questionable goaltending by Allen.

The self-destruction of the Blues continued as Chris Butler took a holding penalty with two minutes to go. The Blackhawks waited until the very end of that power play to capitalize, with Keith finally notching his second goal of the season and also sending the Los Angeles Kings to playoffs in the process.

Your thoughts, Doug Armstrong?

And as if the Blues haven’t been demonized enough by the Blackhawks, the two teams meet again Friday night at United Center. How soon will St. Louis be able to erase this one from memory and focus on the two biggest games of their season this weekend?


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Wednesday night as the St. Louis Blues host the Chicago Blackhawks at 8 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online by clicking here.


St. Louis Blues
Jaden SchwartzBrayden SchennVladimir Tarasenko
Patrik BerglundKyle BrodziakAlex Steen
Dmitrij JaskinVladimir SobotkaTage Thompson
Ivan BarbashevOskar SundqvistChris Thorburn

Joel EdmundsonAlex Pietrangelo
Vince DunnColton Parayko
Chris Butler – Roberto Bortuzzo

Starting goalie: Jake Allen

[NHL on NBCSN: Blues need to pick up valuable points against Blackhawks]


Chicago Blackhawks
Brandon SaadNick SchmaltzPatrick Kane
Dylan SikuraVictor EjdsellAlex DeBrincat
Tomas JurcoArtem AnisimovAndreas Martinsen
Patrick SharpDavid KampfVincent Hinostroza

Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook
Erik GustafssonConnor Murphy
Jordan Oesterle – Blake Hillman

Starting goalie: J.F. Berube


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

PHT Morning Skate: Allen coming up clutch; Who plays with McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins?

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at

• Sabres top prospect Casey Mittelstadt looked back at his college experience at the University of Minnesota after he signed his entry-level contract with Buffalo this week. (The Gopher Hockey Blog)

Jake Allen has had his share of ups and downs this season, but he’s really come through for his team during this crucial stretch. (Fan Rag Sports)

• Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo wrote a great letter about how hockey is an escape for all the tragedies he’s experienced in his life. (The Players’ Tribune)

• Former NHL defenseman Andrew Ference believes it’s time for hockey to be more inclusive, which means that players can’t just stay in their own little bubble. They have to participate in different programs that show off their personality so that they might develop a connection with new fans. (ESPN)

• Cristobal Huet and Christian Ehrhoff both decided to call it quits over the last couple of days. Both had plenty of success in the NHL. (IIHF)

• Now that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is playing on Connor McDavid‘s left wing, Oilers Nation examines which player could be the best fit on the right side of that trio. (Oilers Nation)

• How useful is Roman Polak in the playoffs? takes a deeper look at the numbers. (

Shea Weber won’t return this season, but the foot injury that was expected to sideline him for six months will only take four months to heal. (Sportsnet)

Nico Hischier still has plenty of things to work on, but his rookie season has been a success in New Jersey. (All About the Jersey)

• The Preds have lost three games in a row, but that’s no reason for their fans to be concerned. After all, they’re still right at the top of the league standings. (On the Forecheck)

• Ottawa and Carolina went head-to-head last night, so TSN’s Travis Yost looked at a problem they both had in common this season. (

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