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I seem to recall seeing a stat around the time Elliott went down that he had the best traditional goalie stats of any goalie in the league since the 2011-12 season.  Add in his very cap-friendly contract, and it'd be time to start questioning Doug Armstrong's sanity if he made a move including Elliott for anything less than a franchise player.  (Note:  Not saying such a thing would happen, but when you have a goalie putting up what are functionally franchise numbers...)

2 days, 5 hours ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/a-brian-elliott-trade-would-be-foolish.html

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I'll admit, if I'd been planning to put money on a team to take the first diving fine of the year, I would've been hard-pressed to pick against one of Boston or Vancouver.

3 days, 1 hour ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2014-articles/the-nhl-has-finally-fined-a-player-for-diving.html

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I have two words for the NHL if they're considering expansion in Las Vegas:  Arizona Coyotes.


Does anybody seriously believe that the issues that the Phoenix-cum-Arizona Coyotes are having with attendance/ownership/etc would be less of a problem in as transient a city as Vegas?  Now maybe, just maybe, such an arrangement could develop a natural AZ/NV rivalry, but that'd be an awful lot to bet the house on.  (Yeah... I had to do it at least once.  Sorry.)


That said, I think expansion is fairly inevitable, for the whole "balance the conferences" reason.  Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain pointing at the Florida Panthers as a logical team to be on the move to places West.

3 days, 23 hours ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2014-articles/should-the-nhl-expand-in-las-vegas.html

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After all those defensemen, I felt the need to cleanse my mind a bit:  http://youtu.be/d9nRSMAdfDw

4 days, 19 hours ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/

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@David Rogers Quality of scoring chance is definitely the elephant in the room on this one.  But until and unless someone creates and is willing to provide publicly something that approximates it statistically, this is the best I can do.  Which is why the penultimate paragraph falls back on the eye test.

1 week ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/blues-are-still-struggling-to-close-games-out.html

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I know Hitch has said that this is a player accountability issue, but man, if it is, I'd sure like to see some accountability.  Sure, this level of play is working out against the also-rans of the league, and even some of the playoff contenders of the East.  But if the Blues fail to bury their chances like that against the cream of the West, it's going to be another very short playoff run.


Now, I'll be the first to admit, I haven't played hockey at a seriously competitive level.  But, that said, I've played hockey (and baseball, and tennis, and bowling) enough casually to know that sometimes, what's called for isn't more power, but more finesse.  Take Oshie's game-winner last night.  That shot definitely was not blasted towards the net with all of his might, but accuracy plus traffic in front of the goaltender goes a long way. -- In other words, the chances of putting a hole through the goalie and having the puck wind up in the back of the net are low.  While power can certainly help a puck squeak through between arm and side, it's not going to help at all as long as that many shots aren't actually on the net at all.


Since I was curious, I ran a quick search for a missed shots statistic, and the NHL actually keeps one (thankfully).  Last season, the Blues missed the net with 527 shots at home (10th in the league), and 499 shots on the road (5th in the league), for a total of 1026 shots missed (8th).  LA lead the league in missed shots at home (661), and was 4th in the league in missed shots on the road (527), leading the league combined at 1188 (San Jose was second at 1148).


This year, so far, the Blues are actually down relative to their league rank last year, having missed the net with 180 shots at home (14th) and 167 on the road (12th) for a total of 347 (16th).  That leaves them one missed shot behind Chicago on the season thus far, and nearly eighty behind league-leader San Jose (423 - Note:  The Sharks have played two more games than the Blues to this point).  If they hold their current pace, the Blues should wind up with roughly 80 fewer missed shots this season compared to last.


Breaking those numbers down to a per-game basis, the Sharks are missing 13.2 shots/game, the Hawks are missing 11.6 shots/game, and the Blues are missing 11.56 shots/game.  Meanwhile, the Hawks lead the league with 35.1 shots on net per game, the Blues are third in the league with 32.1 shots/game, and the Sharks are 5th with 31.7 shots/game.


And working further back from that, the Hawks are scoring 3.1 goals/game, or one goal per 11.3 shots taken.  The Blues are actually scoring at a slightly higher clip relative to shots taken (2.96 G/game, one goal per 10.8 shots taken).  The Sharks are at 2.81 G/game and one goal per 11.28 shots taken.


All that to say, it seems like the Blues aren't wildly out of line in missing the net in general.  But the eye test certainly seems to indicate that they're failing to finish on some very quality chances.  I'll openly admit, these are not the results I expected to see when I went looking for the numbers in the first place, but I'll still stand by my speculation that the team (or, at least, Pietrangelo and a few of the forwards) are attempting to get by on more power, rather than opting for more accuracy.


As an aside, the Shattenkirk goal last night really had the feeling of a skill team goal.  Scramble, scramble, and scramble some more at the goal mouth, come out of the scrum with the puck, get the defender out of position, and fire past the still-prone goaltender.  More timing, more accuracy, less power.

1 week ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/blues-are-still-struggling-to-close-games-out.html

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I saw this comment on Twitter, and I find myself in total agreement:  If Elliott gets traded, I'll actually lose faith in Armstrong.

In other words, yes, I agree that a shake-up probably ought to happen.  But I disagree mightily that the goaltending needs to be involved (unless it's Brodeur, once Elliott's healthy again).



1 week, 4 days ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2014-articles/report-blues-considering-trading-patrik-berglund-and-brian-elliott.html

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@David Rogers That seemed to be on a lot of peoples minds on Twitter last night.  I'll have to find it, but somebody had linked to Laura an article that was written when Muller was still head coach of the Hurricanes, detailing exactly the same issue.

http://www.thescore.com/nhl/news/576526

Add that in with the sloppiness in the defensive zone, and things can get ugly in a hurry on any given night (and boy, have they).

 

2 weeks, 2 days ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/brodeur-loses-in-debut-teams-problems-more-evident-than-ever.html

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What really gets me steamed about it is that this is functionally the same group of guys who we KNOW know how to shut down opponents, frustrating them at every turn, and grinding out wins.  They just happen to have a little more skill in the mix now, and I feel like it's gone to their heads - those passes right in front of the goalie being a prime example (they drive me absolutely berserk).


I was under the (apparently mistaken) impression that Muller was brought in to work on the power play from a coaching standpoint.  Unless I'm watching replays of yesteryear's games, I'm not seeing anything new.  Same tired thing that's kept the Blues from consistent PP success since Hitch-time immemorial.


It wasn't, and still isn't, a goaltending issue.  It wasn't Jake Allen's fault that he got lit up like a Christmas tree yesterday in Chicago, and it wasn't Martin Brodeur's fault that he got the same treatment from Nashville.  Could a true A-list goalie have made the difference?  Sure, on a given night.  But not repeatedly all season long, which is why Halak, Elliott, and Allen have all had success - just so long as the team can be bothered to play defense in front of them.  Take that away, and even the best goalie is mortal when it comes to cross-ice/weak-side plays to open wingers crashing the net.

2 weeks, 2 days ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/brodeur-loses-in-debut-teams-problems-more-evident-than-ever.html

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Halak's been good, historically, and he's feasted on the East, for whatever reason.  Personally, in any situation that he's not matched up against the Blues, I wish him all the best.  On his game, he's a lot of fun to watch.

3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2014-articles/jaroslav-halak-was-amazing-in-the-month-of-november.html

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Given all the chippy play going back to the Ottawa games, I can't necessarily say that there's nothing to this.  ... Then again, which team was going around head-shotting skilled forwards, again, Zach?  heh  People in glass houses, and all that.

3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/zach-parise-accuses-the-blues-of-being-bullies.html

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@David Rogers Agreed on Bryz.  Also, any of these situations would (should?) result in Allen playing by far the lion's share of games.  If we discover that he doesn't actually have what it takes to be a legitimate #1, the Blues long-term plans are fairly substantially altered anyway, and I would expect that the team would then look for a more substantial long-term option than either Brodeur or Bryzgalov anyway.

Admittedly, I've found myself very much in the minority when saying, "Just give Binnington a chance."  Since the alternative at the moment appears to be Brodeur, I'd like to extend the comparison statistically a bit further.  (With the caveat that we haven't got any guarantee that Binnington will be the next winningest goalie in the NHL...)

Brodeur played three seasons in juniors before and one in the professional minors before cracking the NHL roster permanently at age 21.  He had a brief four-game stint in the NHL while still in juniors during his age 19 season.


89-90:  42 games, 4.01 GAA, sv% not recorded.(juniors)

90-91:  52 games, 3.30 GAA, sv% not recorded (juniors)

91-92:  48 games, 3.39 GAA, sv% not recorded (juniors), 4 games, 3.35 GAA, .882 sv% (NHL)

92-93:  32 games, 4.03 GAA, .884 sv% (AHL)

93-94:  47 games, 2.40 GAA, .915 sv% (NHL)

The league-average (combined) goals per game in those years were:  8.45 in 89-90, 7.73 in 90-91, 8.42 in 91-92,  8.04 in 92-93, and 6.48 in 93-94.


Binnington played four seasons in juniors, and spent last season in the professional minors (ECHL), and has 9 AHL games under his belt so far this season.


09-10:  22 games, 4.44 GAA, .888 sv% (juniors)

10-11:  46 games, 3.05 GAA, .899 sv% (juniors)

11-12:  39 games, 2.99 GAA, .906 sv% (juniors), 1 game, 3.02 GAA, .921 sv% (AHL)

12-13:  50 games, 2.17 GAA, .932 sv% (juniors)

13-14:  40 games, 2.35 GAA, .922 sv% (ECHL), 1 game, 2.78 GAA, .912 sv% (AHL)

14-15:  9 games, 1.89 GAA, .925 sv% (AHL)


I actually haven't been able to turn up the league-average goals per game numbers for the OHL more recently than the 09-10 season, when the number was 6.95.  While it's not quite the same thing, I calculated the average goals/60 minutes for all the goalie stats for 10-11, which was 3.45 per goalie (or 6.90 per 60 for an average of two teams).  Meanwhile, in 13-14, the number was 5.92 for the ECHL.
 

In other words, it's safe to say that Binnington has been playing in a lower-scoring environment, by about a goal to a goal and a half per game, and by and large, it's reflected in his statistics.  Of course, I'm sure the Blues have a whole lot more information to work with than I do, just looking at the numbers, but knowing only what I know, I'd at least give Binnington the shot.

3 weeks, 3 days ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/blues-invite-martin-brodeur-to-practice-following-brian-elliott-injury.html

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So, so far this season, Bishop has body-slammed a Blackhawk and now cup-checked a Ranger.  What's he going to do for the trifecta?  Clothesline a Canadien?  Slew-foot a Bruin?  He certainly seems to be working his way through the original six, intentionally or not.

3 weeks, 3 days ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/

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This might just be me, but I'd really rather see whether or not Binnington is capable of hacking it (even if just in a very limited backup capacity on the second half of back-to-backs) before turning to a known quantity in Brodeur.  We can tell fairly readily from looking at his stats that Brodeur has been on the down-slope of his career for about the past four years - he last bettered his career save% in the 2009-10 season (.912 career, .916 in 09-10), and aside from the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, he last bettered his career GAA in 2007-08 (2.24 career, 2.22 in 12-13, 2.17 in 07-08).  Normally, I would be in the vanguard of people saying that he could rejuvenate those numbers a bit in St. Louis backstopping Hitchcock's system, but the Devils are a defensively-responsible team in their own right.  To wit:


2013-14:  6th in the league with 2.38 goals against per game.  Brodeur played 39 games, with a 2.51 GAA and .901 sv%, facing a total of 971 shots (25 shots/game).

2012-13:  13th in the league with 2.54 goals against per game.  Brodeur played 29 games, with a 2.22 GAA and .901 sv%, facing a total of 654 shots (22.5 shots/game).

2011-12:  10th in the league with 2.50 goals against per game.  Brodeur played 59 games, with a 2.41 GAA and .908 sv%, facing a total of 1472 shots (25 shots/game).

2010-11:  9th in the league with 2.52 goals against per game.  Brodeur played 56 games, with a 2.45 GAA and .903 sv%, facing a total of 1313 shots (23 shots/game).

2009-10:  1st in the league with 2.27 goals against per game.  Brodeur played 77 games, with a 2.24 GAA and .916 sv%, facing a total of 2004 shots (26 shots/game).

2008-09:  4th in the league with 2.52 goals against per game.  Brodeur played 31 games, with a 2.41 GAA and .916 sv%, facing a total of 870 shots (28 shots/game).

2007-08:  5th in the league with 2.35 goals against per game.  Brodeur played 77 games, with a 2.17 GAA and .920 sv%, facing a total of 2089 shots (27 shots/game).


Comparatively, the Blues are currently allowing 26.7 shots/game this year, allowed 26.4 last year, 24.2 in the 12-13 campaign, 26.7 in 11-12, 27.7 in 10-11, and, unsurprisingly, fall well back in the pack in 09-10, when they were allowing 30.2 shots/game.


So, unless the Hitchcock system also accounts for a lower quality of shot than the system the Devils have been using (which it might, I haven't run that advanced of a comparison, obviously), the numbers don't give any real indication that we should expect Brodeur to outperform his recent past if he goes between the pipes for the Blues.


All that to say, let's at least see if Binnington can translate his (admittedly limited) professional experience to the NHL before we go with the known quantity in Brodeur.  Binnington certainly doesn't have to be a world-beater to at least stand on par with the Devils legend at this point in Marty's career.

3 weeks, 4 days ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/blues-invite-martin-brodeur-to-practice-following-brian-elliott-injury.html

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@David Rogers That really is the trick, isn't it?  The deal would have to be roughly salary-neutral, at least, from the Blues side, to keep those options open down the road, as well as not create more problems next year when more contracts are up.

That said, I think that the bones of this deal at least address the actual need (more goals for), rather than trying to add small percentages to things that are already strengths (defense, goaltending).

Sure, it could turn into a terrible deal depending on what players/prospects/picks were involved on each side to flesh the deal out, but, as I said above, in its basic form, it at least addresses the problem that probably should have been addressed last year.  Still, in general, I still trust Armstrong not to get himself fleeced in a deal, and I don't really believe he'll do something to hamstring the team going forward.  Say what you will of the Miller deal, but getting Halak out in favor what became this year's starting tandem in Elliott/Allen wasn't going to be, and hasn't been the end of the world, and getting something better than a bag of pucks for Stewart means I can't really find a way to turn against the trade.  In other words, sure, it didn't really work out, but it also didn't really break anything beyond last year's playoff chances (and the late-season injuries had plenty to do with that, too, I expect), so I doubt that Army would suddenly act wildly out of character in making a deal.


Also, while it's no guarantee of a successful fill-in, remember that Lindbohm is still camped out in the AHL and, last I looked at his stats, performing well.  He certainly turned enough heads in the preseason that I wouldn't be entirely concerned bringing him up to fill in, and I expect at least part of the reason Butler came up instead when Leopold was moved was to give Lindbohm the ice time for development purposes, rather than cramming him into the Formerly-Named Ian Cole Memorial Pressbox on a regular basis with the big club.

3 weeks, 5 days ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/report-blues-may-be-talking-to-the-oilers-about-jordan-eberle-and-patrik-berglund.html

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Like I said at the time of the extension, I think it was part of what was supposed to be a move for Spezza that fell apart for reasons unknown.  Now, Berglund is still solid for what he is:  A primarily defensive center with the ability to play LW, who chips in the occasional point.  But, that production isn't nearly solid enough to justify the contract he has, and with RFA for Tarasenko coming up (amongst others), I'm ready for the Bergie Era in St. Louis to be over.


Now, granted, bringing Eberle back in the deal nixes the whole clearing space for signings that obviously need to happen in the near future thing.  Also, the Blues would need to either send more salary in the deal, or have Edmonton retain a fairly substantial amount of Eberle if the rest of the deal on the Blues side of the ledger consisted of picks and prospects.  I'm also a bit hesitant about opening up a hole on the "shutdown" line in favor of adding a right winger for Stastny's line, particularly when we haven't given Rattie a legitimate shot at the slot yet, since all he costs is benching a player currently on the team, and "scoring winger" is pretty much line one of his portfolio, as far as I've ever read or seen.

If I'm dreaming, this potential trade could also end the Steve Ott Era in STL, which I would be even more for than ending the Bergie Era.  That would bring the salaries in each direction much closer to equal, give Edmonton something they need (if not necessarily something they want) in the form of a forward with veteran experience and a gritty/grinding nature.  I know I probably have a bit of Blues-Colored Glasses syndrome when it comes to Chris Porter, but I still like his speed better than I like Ott's guts as a dimension for the fourth line.


Overall, I'd feel a whole lot better about this than last year's deadline deal, unless Armstrong somehow managed to get himself talked into sending one of our better defensemen Edmonton's way in the deal, or if "prospects" involved Fabbri or Barbashev.


In the end, it could be something, or it could be nothing.  But with how much smoke there's been about it in various quarters for the past while, and given how much smoke there was about Miller to St. Louis before Army pulled the trigger on that deal last year, and Bouwmeester to St. Louis before that, I'm inclined to think that there's at least a realistic possibility of some variation of this deal coming to fruition.

3 weeks, 5 days ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/report-blues-may-be-talking-to-the-oilers-about-jordan-eberle-and-patrik-berglund.html

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This certainly matches what I thought I'd been seeing the last several years, though I hadn't actually sat down and run the numbers.  Now, it makes me wonder, can we explain the recent dominance of the West over the East (though that doesn't seem to be holding nearly so true this year as in the past two or three) in the same way?

1 month ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/

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Makes some room to make a move later if needed.  Cements Cole as a fixture of the regular D lineup, and he's been good enough this season to finally deserve it.  Adds a pick, which is never a bad thing.  Adds a D to Columbus, who just lost Fedor Tyutin for at least a month with an injury.  And it gives Leopold a chance to play regularly, which I'd have to think he wants.  This seems like a reasonable win all the way around.

1 month ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/jordan-leopold-traded-to-columbus.html

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I feel like this interview could become the next "Don't Push Me".  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LprzxFAoH9w  I hadn't really made the Sutter/Torts connection until I started looking at the facial expressions, though.  heh

1 month, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/

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@David Rogers I'd be more concerned about that if Armstrong hadn't shown the ability to let go of moves that didn't work out in the recent past.  See: Moving Stewart, allowing Miller to walk.

I do still think that the Berglund signing was a prelude to a deal for Spezza that somehow didn't end up lining up in a way that both the Blues and Ottawa could accept. At this point, though, it is what it is:  An anchor holding down one of the Blues lines.

1 month, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/

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And, almost right on cue, comments from Hitch regarding Porter getting more playing time (though not in direct relation to Bergie):  http://t.co/giiLKm2lAr


Personally, in the short term, I think it's time for Berglund to spend a game or two in the press box watching.  I get that he's big, and defensively responsible, and that maybe it'd work out if he played on the wing instead of at center, but at this point, it almost has to be time to send the message that what he's brought to the table through the first sixth of the season or so isn't going to be sufficient.


I'm not trying to say that I expect Porter to somehow outplay Berglund, or bring more to the table than Berglund would if he was on his game, but I like Porter in a bottom-six role for the same reason I like Paajarvi there:  They have the speed to be disruptive, which is something the Blues mostly lack.  Not unlike having power play units that offer different looks, having a couple of players that offer a different look on the forecheck is helpful, at least in trying to force the opposing D's hand occasionally.


Speaking of, as an aside, it looked last night like Nashville got the Chicago/LA book on playing the Blues.  Get in deep with speed and hound the D into turnovers.  It works so well against us, I'd really like to see Porter and company turned loose to try the same thing in the opposing end.


Anyway, back to Berglund, in the long term, I do think it's time to be done with the Berglund era with the Blues.  If we can find some team that thinks, like teams think/thought about Stewart, that a change of scenery is what 21 needs to succeed, the Blues can hopefully get at least a halfway-decent return for him.  Even if it's just picks, I'm not necessarily against that, as the team could bring in someone more inexpensive to replace him - with more RFA/UFA contracts coming due, and the potential for the cap not to go up (or not go up by as much as initially reported), getting out from under Berglund's contract is looking like a decent idea.

1 month, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/

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Just think how interesting this could get on trade deadline day, if it's still hanging out there unresolved.  It might wind up nixing a whole lot of trades that would otherwise happen.

1 month, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/

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Barring a lot of sustained winning, and soon, I don't see how the Panthers are going to remain a viable franchise in their current location.  I haven't got anything against them, but at this point, it's almost painful to watch.

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/

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Their design team got bored, since they've had to come up with a new outdoor jersey every other year or so.

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/

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Tarasenko and Schwartz and pray for...  Well, I'm not sure how to make that rhyme, in the end, but it's certainly been true of the Blues season so far from an offensive standpoint.  There's been just enough secondary scoring to make things work out, which is okay for the moment, especially with all the illness and injury floating around the team early in the season.


Much like I said around the time the team was 3-3-1, I'm not going to get particularly worried about this until we hit the end of November or so, and this viral/bacterial/whatever has finished running its course, and preferably Stastny and Oshie are back in action.


Also, regarding the goaltending, I'm pleased to have been vindicated on my statements the past couple of years that any goalie playing in Hitch's system should be able to put up numbers that a team can win with, provided that the skaters actually play the system.  That said, I'd say that both Elliott and Allen have gone above and beyond that level of play thus far, since the scoring hasn't always been there, and some of the shots against have been of absurdly high quality.

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/tarasenkos-heroics-masking-blues-troubles-on-offense.html

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Such a thing doesn't exist, of course, but it would've been amusing if the ref could've awarded a 2-on-goalie penalty shot in this situation.

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/

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We're just going to have to hope for some second-half health, I think.  Let's get all the illnesses and injuries out of the way now, and the boys can spend the second have gelling as a unit and getting ready for an actual run.


While the West is undoubtedly stacked, I have no fear that the Blues are going to manage to miss the cut for the playoffs, barring the injury bug biting even more deeply than it already has.  Not saying that bad things can't happen, but when the team looks at least mostly right (LA, Chicago), they're a match for anybody.  Given all the oddities to start the year, with Stastny already injured twice, other early-season dings and dents, the bacterial whatever going around, the weird opening scheduling, Gunnarsson just now getting underway...  I'm a lot less concerned with the relatively slow start this year, given all of that.  Now, if the Blues are still floundering around the .500 mark at the end of November, then we can start asking some serious questions.

1 month, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/ken-hitchcock-we-have-no-idea-what-type-of-team-we-have.html

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... I'll have five guys all fighting over who gets to be Mr. Goal Scorer.  So I pick.  You're Mr. Stay-at-Home Defenseman.

1 month, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/

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It would be one thing if a top team in the league had held the cellar-dweller Sabers to 10 shots.  That wouldn't be surprising in the slightest.  But the Leafs?  Maybe it's time to relegate the Sabers to the AHL and bring up...  I dunno who, but some team down there has to at least be capable enough to fire more than ten shots on net against Toronto.

1 month, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/

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My first thought was the British Villains ad from Jaguar, actually.  "I have no need to show emotion. All is going exactly according to my evil plan.  Mwahahaha!" or something like that.  Get him a long-haired white cat for effect, and Army's set for his Halloween costume.

1 month, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/

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@David Rogers It could get amusingly convoluted if he started getting previous victims to help out luring in new ones.

1 month, 4 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/video-ryan-reaves-pranks-kevin-shattenkirk.html

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Just because the uniform colors are closer, that's no reason to start auditioning for a spot on the Bruins, Kunitz...

1 month, 4 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/

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BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

It's too bad we don't have one of our laid-back goalies anymore.  That could be hysterical.  Maybe he can try Bouwmeester next?

2 months ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/video-ryan-reaves-pranks-kevin-shattenkirk.html

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I remember that move from NHL '94, too.  Maybe not as exact as the Kessel one from a few days ago, but the deke left/shoot right move in the slot was probably the second highest-percentage shot in the game.

2 months ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/

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We've certainly had a problem keeping him healthy thus far.  Thankfully, at the moment, everybody else has been coming to play (at least, after the first period of the NYR game).


Meanwhile, Lindbohm getting a start tonight.  I'll be curious to see that, since there wasn't any video for the preseason.

2 months ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/

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Personally, I can't see Mueller in a fourth line role.  I expect the reason for this, as has been bandied about on Twitter a bit already this afternoon, is that he's opting back to Europe rather than taking the trip down to the AHL.  We shall see, of course, but that's certainly what it looks like, and the first thought I had.

2 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/blues-put-peter-mueller-on-waivers-to-terminate-his-contract.html

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If that's accurate, and if it's allowable under the current CBA, I'd have to think that Armstrong is looking at trading his rights.  Given that it sounds like Sobotka wants to play elsewhere, and given that there's no guarantee he'll come through a season over there injury-free, the best chance to get some value for him, if that's necessary, is likely now.  Or, at least, shortly after the arbitration session, so interested parties would know what they were getting into contract-wise.


Really, it's a shame.  I like Sobotka.  I think the Blues would be a stronger team this season with him instead of (gag me) Steve Ott returning.  But if it is what it sounds like, then it's probably time to get while the getting's good.

5 months ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/report-sobotka-will-spend-one-year-in-khl-before-returning-to-new-nhl-team.html

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Stastny between Schwartz and Tarasenko?  That could be fun.  I still want to see the Lehtera/Tarasenko pair, since they've got some history (and chemistry) from their Sibir days, of course, but given Hitchcock's penchant for tinkering with the lines, we'll probably end up seeing a bit of everything before the year's done.


Elliott 1, Allen 1A or B?  Not surprised in the slightest, for reasons we've gone over before.  And, just like I said before, I expect it'll still be a fairly close split at the end of the year, barring injuries or one of them showing a truly hot hand.


Ott...  It's still Steve Ott, so that's strike one in my book.  He's a forth liner with potential to play third line occasionally, as opposed to Sobotka's third line ability and occasional slot into the top six, OR down to the fourth in a pinch, so there's no gain in flexibility.  (Granted, with the adds of Stastny and Lehtera, there's less *need* for someone you can run all the way up and down the lineup in a pinch, at least as far as Hitch's normal line juggling goes.)  And, to go along with that, not that Sobotka was ever going to be an offensive giant, but Ott's toolbox is smaller in that regard as well.  I just can't buy in to what Hitchcock is saying here.

5 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/the-most-interesting-quotes-from-ken-hitchcocks-latest-interview.html

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@David Rogers Somehow, the prices they're charging for normal games are already getting paid.  But you're right, if the average hockey fan in the states heard what Toronto might charge for those events if they landed them all, they'd probably run in terror.  ... At least, I know I would.

5 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2014-articles/toronto-maple-leafs-want-to-host-everything-for-their-100th-birthday.html

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Rather than the Winter Classic, put them in the Heritage Classic, against the Habs.  Tough to beat that for a birthday bash.  Other than that, the St. Louisan in me appreciates things with history too much, so I'm all for giving them whatever they can convince the league they should have for their 100th celebration.

5 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2014-articles/toronto-maple-leafs-want-to-host-everything-for-their-100th-birthday.html

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@David Rogers Since nobody seems to think that Jordan Binnington would be ready to step in (and since he doesn't even have any AHL experience at this point, I'd buy that argument), my expectation would be that Armstrong would have to sign a goaltender from the free agent pile mid-season, with the idea being that whichever of the regular tandem is uninjured would play basically all of the games.

Granted, I haven't seen or read anything that makes me think this, but I can't really think of anyone out there who's A) on the market, B) worth having under contract for that just-in-case situation, and C) would want to be under contract in that situation playing in the AHL until and unless needed.

5 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/ken-hitchcock-on-goaltending-this-is-brian-elliotts-job.html

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@David Rogers Agreed.  As long as he holds the line in the starts that he does get, though, I figure it'll even out pretty much in line with what I predicted above.  I suppose I could reasonably see a situation in which the split ended up being 55E/27A, but barring a spectacular run or injury by one or the other, that'd be the upper limit of my expectation.

5 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/ken-hitchcock-on-goaltending-this-is-brian-elliotts-job.html

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If they'd like to go back to the 1A/1B arrangement from Hitch's first season, I wouldn't be against it.  Or ride the hot hand.  Whatever you want to call it.  Personally, I don't really foresee a situation outside of injury where it doesn't end up as roughly a 45/35 split (Elliott/Allen), but, of course, that's just a guess.

5 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/ken-hitchcock-on-goaltending-this-is-brian-elliotts-job.html

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@David Rogers I've heard a lot of complaints about the piping over the years now, but that's never really been part of what I didn't like about the current sweaters.  At the same time, I'm certainly not married to it staying in place.  I don't know that it does a whole lot for the road uniform, but I think it does a decent job of breaking up the home uniform's look.  It might actually do really well at that, if those white patches weren't impinging on its gig breaking up the blue.

5 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/

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@David Rogers If I had to pick, I like the road whites more.  There's something about the current home uniform, particularly, that doesn't do it for me.  Mostly, I think it's the way the shoulders are designed.  Either the dark shoulders, or the white patches, or both need to go.  The design just seems too busy to me.

5 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/

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I idly considered getting one of the current generation uniforms while they're on clearance, but I still can't bring myself to really like them. (Hence why my Backes is a 3rd.) Definitely hoping that the speculation that the new sweaters are harkening back to some of the more historical designs are true.

5 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/

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As usual, I have to agree in general.  But just to keep things interesting, I'll disagree on some of the specifics.


Goalie is certainly a question mark going in, from the point of view that Elliott has faltered at times as the starter, and Allen has limited NHL experience.  However, I would argue that, particularly in the '12-13 season, that a lot of Elliott's woes can be traced directly to the lack of defensive support.  If we go back in time to then, post-wise, I believe I made the point that it was not Halak or Elliott's fault, so much as it was the fault of a continuous, on-going breakdown of the team, and their ability or willingness to play Hitch's defensive system.  And beyond that, that Allen's success when he was brought up during that run was less about his quality as a goaltender being higher than 1/41, but that the team, faced with a rookie netminder as their backstop, managed to batten down the hatches a bit in the defensive end.


In other words, my argument is not so much that Elliott or Allen can or can't do the job, but that, properly played, Hitch's system makes ANY goalie capable of putting forth at least average, if not well above average, performances.  Therefore, I'm less concerned about the goaltending than I am about your second point...


The ability of the defense to move people, rather than be moved by them, has to have been nearly as obvious to Hitch, the coaches, and Army, as it is to those of us looking in from the outside.  I do recall some talk around the early off-season that a strength and conditioning plan had been put in place to remedy some of this, but I can't imagine that that will suddenly turn the Pietrangelos and Shattenkirks of the Blues defensive corps into the second comings of Chris Pronger and Scott Stevens.  And that, of course, makes the move to ship Polak out in return for yet another relatively light, stick-first, puck-moving defenseman more than a little odd.


I can accept the premise that more was wanted of Polak than he could reasonably give, that he was down last year compared to the physical force he was in years past, and that a change could be seen as a good thing.  I can also accept the premise that, by and large, having D with the ready ability to get the puck out of the zone quickly is a good thing that disrupts opponents and leads to quality scoring chances.  --  However, when teams are big enough, or fast enough, or just plain gutsy enough to come crashing in and disrupt that puck movement?  That's the Blues, trapped in their zone, scrambling... again.  It's going to beat a lot of teams a lot of the time in the regular season, but come time to dial it up in the playoffs, outlet passes don't seem to dial up nearly as well as the ability to knock an opposing forward off the puck, or keep him from knocking you off of it.


What I won't argue is that Gunnarsson isn't a better player than Polak.  In terms of skill, it's a clear upgrade for the Blues.  The question remains, though, is more back-end skill what the Blues really needed to acquire?

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/two-big-questions-remain-for-the-st-louis-blues.html

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The fact that he didn't take significantly more for significantly longer (from, say, Toronto?) was certainly a pleasant surprise.  And compared to giving up any number of pieces for Spezza, I can't find it in me to complain.  Now all he has to do is come in here and prove that he's worth what he's getting paid, and from everything I've seen, heard, and read, he should have a good go at it.


Meanwhile, the additional flexibility that bringing in Lehtera offers is maybe even more intriguing.  Sure, the KHL isn't the NHL, but he's been near a point-per-game player over there.  Add in the history playing with Tarasenko, and I'm every bit as curious to see how he fits in as I am to see the outcome of the Stastny move.

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/blues-sign-paul-stastny-to-a-four-year-contract.html

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@David Rogers We takes 'em when we can gets 'em.

As to Stastny, I know what you mean.  Three weeks ago, heck, even two weeks ago, I had it read is pretty meaningless background clutter in the arena of a role the Blues needed to fill, because I figured Colorado would just lock him back up.  Now that we're, what, a week out from the official start of the free agent signing period?  I have to think it's actually a possibility that exists.  Sure, maybe the Avs are playing some kind of long con at Ottawa's expense, but I can't see why they would.  Comparatively, some of the speculation about who they intend to lock up long-term C-wise makes a lot of sense as a driver for Stastny not having a new contract there already.

Meanwhile, figuring that the Blues take care of the offensive center slot some way or another, what would your read be on the third line going into the season?  I'd have to expect that Sobotka's centering it, and making some poor opposing 3Cs absolutely miserable in the faceoff dot, and it isn't as though there aren't enough options for the wings, but I'm not really sure what of those options I'd actually avail myself of, if the choice was mine to make.

6 months ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/discussing-the-infatuation-over-jason-spezza.html

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Personally, if I had to pick a bandwagon, it would be the "Sign UFA Stastny, trade for Kadri" bandwagon.  Of course, this bandwagon operates under the assumption that Colorado lets Stastny hit UFA, but it doesn't seem entirely unreasonable.


I know I've said a few times before, but I've got some buddies in Ottawa, and naturally, I've talked to 'em about Spezza.  Before I go any farther, let me point out that they're just fans, and I'm definitely NOT claiming some kind of insider information.  That said, I do like what they had to say about Spezza:  He has a strong offensive up-side.  He makes his linemates better.  He's reasonably defensively responsible, though he is prone to the more-than-occasional turnover at the opponents' blueline (so he'll fit right in, in other words).


So, in general, I could reasonably be said to be for a move to pick up Spezza.  At the end of the day, there's no way to guarantee the health of any player - I'd be more concerned that we'd catch him on the start of the down-side of his career than I would be about his injury history.  Injuries are going to happen in hockey, plain and simple.


At the same time, though, I'm not saying that that shouldn't be taken into consideration.  Add in the fact that Stastny's a bit younger, and that signing him as a UFA would leave us more trade pieces to address other needs, and you've got the reason that I'd prefer him over Spezza, in a nutshell.


Now, having said all that, it's just as likely that any of these moves, or none of them, could be what the Blues need to get over the hump.  It certainly isn't suddenly going to get any easier to get out of the Central, between the Blackhawks, and sudden growth of the Avalanche, and the continued persistence of the Wild.  Clearing the West won't, either, for all the obvious reasons.  But at least attempting to assess and improve on the scoring deficit and strength on the back-end can't hurt.  (Well, we can argue that this is the last real chance to get it together, given what the Blues currently have available to them draft-wise and down-system in the minors, but I think that's a fairly separate argument for a team whose window is fairly clearly now.)

6 months ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/discussing-the-infatuation-over-jason-spezza.html

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