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Central Division notebook

New Blues goalie coach Martin Brodeur has immediate impact on Jake Allen, Carter Hutton

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Martin Brodeur thought about what his old boss would do when his new boss asked him for a favor last week. It helped make his decision simple.

Brodeur, the St. Louis Blues assistant general manager, quickly said yes when general manager Doug Armstrong asked him to replace Jim Corsi as the goalie coach to Jake Allen and Carter Hutton for the remainder of the season.

Corsi was fired at the same time Armstrong fired coach Ken Hitchcock on Feb. 1.

"You fall back to how Lou [Lamoriello] handled stuff back in the day [with the New Jersey Devils]," said Brodeur, who became the NHL's all-time leader in wins and shutouts among many other statistics playing under Lamoriello in New Jersey. "If it didn't work, well, he went down and did it himself. So I didn't really hesitate. We're doing it for the best of the team and hopefully it's going to work and we'll find the right person to get this moving the next few years after that."

The early returns show Brodeur might just know a thing or two about the goaltending position, as his 691 wins, 125 shutouts and three Stanley Cup championship rings suggest.

The Blues are 3-1-0 since the coaching change in large part because their goaltending has been a strength instead of a weakness. Allen and Hutton have allowed four goals on 113 shots for a .964 save percentage and 1.00 goals-against average in the four games.

Video: Martin Brodeur discusses being a part of the NHL100

Hutton had a 26-save shutout in a 2-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday. Allen made 30 saves in a 6-0 win against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. They have an active shutout streak of 147:58 (not counting the Pittsburgh Penguins' empty-net goal on Saturday).

Allen's save percentage has climbed to .900 from .895, where it was before Hitchcock and Corsi were fired. Hutton's save percentage went up to .902 from .896 in his one start.

"Both of them are really athletic goalies so I wanted them to be able to play that way, not just blocking shots but challenging more," Brodeur said. "They've been competing a lot harder, making saves and tracking their rebounds, and the team is playing better too. It goes hand in hand. Mike [Yeo] came in and there's that little different way we're playing, a little more conscious about our defensive zone right now and that's always going to benefit the goalies. We're happy that we're somewhat back on track a little bit, but it's a long ways to go. We had a tough go there for a while so we can't take anything for granted."

Brodeur said he is working with Allen and Hutton in the same fashion as to how he used to work with Jacques Caron, his longtime goalie coach. He relies heavily on video and challenges the goalies to implement what they learn from watching themselves on the ice.

"You have to always have closure about the games you play, good or bad," Brodeur said. "For me, it was always with the puck touches, how you play the puck and how you communicate with your players. On video it says a lot if you're rushing a play or whatever. I'm able to go through all of that with them like I did when I played. You learn when you see yourself.

"Every time Jacques would come in and say something about my shoulders, being square, this and that, he would show it to me. Sometimes you don't see it when you play but on the video it doesn't lie if you're cheating, not in good position or off-balance. The key is to pay attention because sometimes that situation comes around again, you just saw it on the video and you adjust to it."

Brodeur said he has been stressing habits with the goalies, trying to get their structure back to where they are playing the same way all the time. Four games is a small sample size, but Brodeur said he sees subtle positives that show him that they're getting their baseline back.

He used Allen's aggressive play in his three starts as an example. Instead of sitting back and hoping the puck hits him, Brodeur said Allen is being more aggressive in his saves.

"Listen, habits, they're hard to break, but you have to keep going at it," Brodeur said. "I don't want to change the way they play at all; I just want to make sure that structurally they understand they need to be almost perfect all the time and that's going to give them an opportunity to be consistent instead of being a little jack-in-the-box. More and more they're starting to be the same goalie every single game. That needs to grow on them."

Brodeur, though, isn't prepared to let this coaching bug grow on him.

He insists he's enjoying working with Allen and Hutton, but said it's not what he signed up to do when he took the assistant GM job.

"But it's like anything," he said. "We've made that change so we have to step in and figure it out before we make another decision to bring in somebody else."

Just as Lamoriello did three times after there was a coaching change in New Jersey.

 

Stevens' major impact in Minnesota

Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter had never met Scott Stevens. All he knew of the Hall of Fame defenseman turned Wild assistant coach was what he saw on television and video clips.

"I knew he was intense; I didn't know how intense he'd be with regards to coaching," Suter said. "He's intense. And it's great."

Video: ANA@MIN: Suter scores from below the goal line

Stevens is making a big impression in Minnesota for more than his intensity. 

The Wild (35-12-6) are third in the League in goals against per game (2.32) and 13th in penalty kill (82.1 percent). They were ninth in goals per game last season (2.49) and 27th in penalty kill (77.9 percent).

"It's been amazing," Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk said.

Suter said one of Stevens' best attributes is how he communicates with the defensemen. He said he doesn't use his legendary stare to intimidate the way he did during his playing career. Instead, he is constantly talking, asking questions, seeking opinions.

"In the locker room you'll walk by him and he'll be like, 'Hey, Sutes, what do you think of this?' " Suter said. "He's always trying to get your opinion on things. He's awesome. He gets it."

Dubnyk said Stevens' demeanor on the bench elicits poise and confidence.

"He's awesome and calm on the bench, which is a big reason why he gets real good responses from guys," Dubnyk said. "He's right on them, but it's proactive and it's calm. If he was snapping, guys would be scared. He's been awesome for us."

 

Stat pack

Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has 11 points on three goals and eight assists in the past 12 games. … The Nashville Predators have a League-best plus-28 goal differential in the second period (63 scored, 35 allowed). … The Winnipeg Jets are 29th in second-period goal differential at minus-19. They have scored 46 and have allowed 65, tied for the most in the League with the Blues. … The Colorado Avalanche are second in the League in faceoff percentage at 53.6 percent. They also have a League-low 32 points, which seems to indicate that faceoffs aren't exactly the most valuable stat to judge a team. … Stars forwards Patrick Sharp and Jamie Benn are approaching milestones. Sharp needs seven points to reach 600 in the NHL and Benn needs six points to reach 500.

 

Games to watch

St. Louis Blues at Toronto Maple Leafs (Feb. 9, 7:30 p.m. ET; SNO, FS-MW, NHL.TV) -- The Blues will try to keep playing well defensively against the Maple Leafs, who are sixth in the League in goals per game with 3.12.

Chicago Blackhawks at Edmonton Oilers (Feb. 11, 10 p.m. ET; CBC, SN, WGN, NHL.TV) -- Last game of a six-game road trip for the Blackhawks, who will get six days off after the game.

Anaheim Ducks at Minnesota Wild (Feb. 14, 8 p.m. ET; FS-WI, FS-N+, PRIME, NHL.TV) -- Third game for Wild coach Bruce Boudreau against his former team. The Wild are 2-0 against the Ducks, with wins at Anaheim Jan. 8 and at home Jan. 21.

Nashville Predators at Minnesota Wild (Feb. 18, 8 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-WI, FS-TN, NHL.TV) -- This will be the first game back after the Predators' mandatory bye week. Nashville beat Minnesota 4-2 at Xcel Energy Center on Jan. 22. The Wild won the first two meetings in Nashville, Dec. 15 and Dec. 27.

Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild (Feb. 21, 8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, FS-N, FS-WI, CSN-CH, NHL.TV) -- The top two teams in the division meet for the third time since Jan. 15.

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