Michalek to make Blues debut vs. Wild


Defenseman Zbynek Michalek is expected to make his Blues debut tonight when St. Louis hosts the Minnesota Wild.

Michalek was partnered alongside Jay Bouwmeester at the team’s morning skate.

The Blues acquired Michalek from the Arizona Coyotes on March 2 along with a conditional third-round pick in exchange for prospect Maxim Letunov.

The 32-year-old has not played since Feb. 14 due to a concussion.

In 53 games with the Coyotes this season Michalek had two goals and six assists to go along with a minus-6 rating while averaging 21:05 in ice time.

Wild’s Stewart on trade from Blues: ‘There’s no other way to take it than personal’


The Wild play the Blues tonight in the first of three meetings between the two clubs over the next month.

It’ll provide ample opportunity for Minnesota forward Chris Stewart to stick it to his former team.

Stewart is apparently still bothered by last season’s trade, which saw him go from St. Louis to Buffalo.

“Anytime you get traded in this league, I think you have a bit of a chip on your shoulder and want to stick it to them every time you play them,” Stewart told Michael Russo of the Star Tribune. “There’s no other way to take it than personal.”

The Wild acquired the 27-year-old on March 2 from the Sabres in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

In six games with Minnesota, Stewart has two goals and two assists.

“He’s fearless. He’s fearless of anybody on the other team, and he plays the game that way,” said coach Mike Yeo. “That’s a big thing for us. Having somebody that can hold people accountable if they’re going to try to go after one of our top players or anybody for that matter, he welcomes that kind of game.

“More importantly, he plays just a big game. This time of year, you’ve got to be ready to stand your ground, you’ve got to be ready to play physical hockey. We’ve got to be prepared to play heavy games and he’s a guy that should help us do that.”

St. Louis won the only other meeting between the two Central Division clubs 3-2 in a shootout on Nov. 29.

Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do


Using Sports Club Stats, here are the records each bubble team needs down the stretch to earn a better-than-50-percent shot of making the playoffs…

Eastern Conference (three bubble teams, one spot available)

Boston Bruins — 5-7-3
Ottawa Senators — 11-4-1
Florida Panthers — 10-3-2

Just a fantastic series of results from Boston over the last seven days, putting a firm grip on a playoff berth with wins over Philadelphia, Detroit, Ottawa and Tampa Bay. The victory against the Sens was vital — heading in, Ottawa had trimmed Boston’s lead for the final wild card spot to just five points — and Thursday’s win over the Bolts was big too, as it drew the B’s to within five points of Detroit for third in the Atlantic Division.

That said, all is not lost for the Sens and Panthers — Ottawa had some good results (wins over Calgary and Montreal), as did Florida (wins over the Islanders and Jets.) Of the two teams challenging Boston, though, the Panthers remains the more intriguing opponent as they have three games remaining against the Bruins: Mar. 21 in Florida, Mar. 31 in Boston and Apr. 9 in Florida.

Western Conference (eight bubble teams, four spots available)

Vancouver Canucks — 5-6-4
Minnesota Wild — 5-7-3
Calgary Flames — 6-6-3
Los Angeles Kings — 6-6-3
Winnipeg Jets — 7-3-4
San Jose Sharks — 8-3-3
Colorado Avalanche — 11-2-1
Dallas Stars — 11-1-2

Another bad week for the Jets, who dropped two of three, including a back-breaking 5-4 loss to St. Louis in which Barret Jackman’s center-ice goal with 63 seconds left nullified Winnipeg’s comeback from 4-1 down. The Jets followed that up with a disheartening 4-2 loss in Florida last night.

Good week, however, for Los Angeles. The Kings scored road wins in both Colorado and Vancouver, the latter putting them in the final wild card spot — ahead of the Jets — while drawing to within one point of Calgary and two of Vancouver in the Pacific Division.

This was also a good week for the other California team in the playoff hunt, San Jose. The Sharks gained four points with wins over Pittsburgh and Nashville, and are enjoying a solid stretch of play from goalie Antti Niemi — over his last five starts, Niemi has allowed just nine goals on 167 shots for a .946 save percentage, and one shutout.

Hitchcock becomes fourth coach to win 700 games as Elliott ties Blues shutout record


After allowing four goals on 16 shots on Tuesday, Blues goaltender Brian Elliott bounced back in a big way by posting a 28-save shutout in St. Louis 1-0 shootout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

It was Elliott’s fourth shutout of the season and his 20th since joining the Blues in 2011-12. That puts him in a tie with his former goaltending partner Jaroslav Halak for the franchise record.

T.J. Oshie and Vladimir Tarasenko each scored for St. Louis in the skills competition while Elliott beat Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds.

Elliott’s efforts made head coach Ken Hitchcock the fourth bench boss in NHL history to reach the 700-win mark. It was a particularly appropriate game for him to accomplish that feat as the 63-year-old bench boss coached the Philadelphia Flyers for parts of four seasons. He also was in charge of the Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets at various points in his career.

As it happens, all three of the coaches ahead of Hitchcock on the wins list are also former Blues bench bosses. Joel Quenneville (745 wins) leads the Chicago Blackhawks now, but he spent parts of his first eight seasons in charge of the Blues. Scotty Bowman (1,244) got his start with St. Louis too, running the team from the 1967-68 campaign until he was replaced by Al Arbour (782 wins) during the 1970-71 campaign. The four legends have won the Stanley Cup as a head coach a combined 16 times, but never with St. Louis.

Hitchcock hopes to become the first this year.

Goalie nods: Sens go back to the Hamburglar


All the latest from the blue paint…

Anderson sits, Hammond starts

After saying Craig Anderson gave his team the best chance to win prior to Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Boston, Ottawa head coach Dave Cameron flipped the script by announcing Andrew Hammond, not Anderson, would get the start for tonight’s tilt against Montreal.

Hammond — aka “The Hamburglar” — returns to the net after a two-game hiatus, looking to build on his eye-popping numbers: 7-0-1 record, .954 save percentage, 1.43 GAA and two shutouts in nine appearances. His return also comes at a crucial time for Ottawa, as the Sens blew a golden opportunity on Tuesday to close the gap on Boston’s lead in the Eastern Conference playoff chase; they head into tonight’s action seven points back of the B’s, albeit with a game in hand.

For Montreal, Carey Price will get the start in goal.


Bolts at Bruins: Ben Bishop vs. Tuukka Rask (probable)

Oilers at Pens: Ben Scrivens vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Stars at ‘Canes: Kari Lehtonen vs. Anton Khudobin

Jets at Panthers: Michael Hutchinson vs. Dan Ellis

Jackets at Wings: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Jimmy Howard

Flyers at Blues: Steve Mason vs. Brian Elliott

Devils at Avs: Cory Schneider vs. Semyon Varlamov (probable)

Kings at Canucks: No confirmed starters for either team.

Blackhawks at Coyotes: Corey Crawford vs. Mike Smith

Preds at Sharks: (No starter for Nashville yet) vs. Antti Niemi