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@David Rogers This is certainly true. But at this point, i'd prefer someone a little more reliable than Cole consistency-wise as the #7 at the NHL level, should injury occur. Maybe I'm reading the tea leaves wrong, but it certainly seemed like he had his chance this year, and didn't live up to Hitchcock's/Armstrong's expectations.
3 days, 9 hours ago on St. Louis free agents: Restricted and unrestricted players at the NHL and AHL level
Given an offseason and no lockout to rededicate himself, I could see Andy McDonald coming back as the "veteran presence" type. I think that same situation will help some other players who didn't play overseas before the season finally got started (see also: Backes, to name probably the most obvious one). The other two on that last list are pretty clearly done here.
The rest of this is a lot more interesting, tricky, and loaded with potential for surprises.
It's clear from Armstrong's comments during the season that Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo will be back. I think he has room to drive a fairly good bargain with both of them, given their performances this season, particularly defensively in Shattenkirk's case, and offensively, as well as occasionally defensively, with Pietrangelo. Add in the reduction in the cap, and the potential that the Subban deal near the start of the season could be seen as the start of some financial retrenching on the part of GMs around the league (Yeah, I'm not counting on it, but the argument *could* be made), and while certainly not for a song, the cost to keep the defensive core together may be down to an arm and a foot rather than two arms and a leg, comparatively.
Personally, I was really ready to see both Stewart and Berglund go to town this season. Realize their potential, which they keep giving maddening brief glimpses of, right before disappearing at crunch time. Pick your over-used description of choice of a player who everyone just knows is capable of so much more. Especially after they actually delivered for a good chunk of the regular season. I expect that they'll either be back, probably at more than I personally would prefer to see them get, or that Armstrong will use one in a deal to bring in somebody who actually will work hard every game, and has a nose for putting the puck in the net, rather than the netting.
Cole and Russell, I think the experiment with the former may finally be over. Russell probably stays as either depth, or the 6th man if the Blues can't come to terms with Leopold.
After this short postseason, and what he showed late in the regular season, I think Cracknell has solidified his spot on the fourth line. Fans will likely howl if he hasn't, and I wouldn't blame them.
I'll admit, I don't particularly follow the AHL to have much of an opinion on that set of free agents, except for Jake Allen, whose situation I think I've made my thoughts clear on, for the moment. Much depends on what Armstrong does regarding Halak, or Elliott, I suppose.
4 days, 4 hours ago on St. Louis free agents: Restricted and unrestricted players at the NHL and AHL level
@David Rogers I had to allow vine.co and zencdn.net scripts before it would animate. Working now.
4 days, 8 hours ago on Milan Lucic's handshake is a bit personal | May | 2013 Articles
Is your vine supposed to move?
5 days, 3 hours ago on Milan Lucic's handshake is a bit personal | May | 2013 Articles
I think there's a lot of meat here, especially in light of the three goalie situation that made so much news earlier in the year. Let me start with a few qualifiers:
I'm not particularly more or less of a fan of any of the Blues current crop of goaltenders - I'm a fan of the Blues winning games. Whichever goalie does that, I'm fine with, regardless of past occasions of cold/poor play in net, off-ice controversies, the numbers left on their contracts, etc, etc, etc.
I don't think any of the three goalies currently in the discussion are significantly more likely than the other two of being The One who brings the Cup to St. Louis. We've seen great hockey out of all three, and we've seen pedestrian hockey out of all three.
There's a good likelihood that one of the three will not be with the St. Louis Blues organization by the start of next season. Here's why, purely from a fan's perspective:
Halak. The primary reason he might not be back, if Armstrong can find a spot to move him? The recent injury history. When he's healthy, he has probably the highest upside of the lot, and generally gives the team a better chance to "steal" a game. But, again, what is it now, three groin injuries in two years, plus various other dings and dents? If Army can find a way to move his contract (the largest of the three, by a good couple million and change, if I recall correctly), this wouldn't surprise me in the least.
Elliott. Out of the three, I think he has the best shot of staying put. While it wouldn't make any sense to put his awful string of play in February and March aside, I still maintain that a lot of that had to do with the team failing in front of him. See also: several of the goals from games 4-6 of this year's series against the Kings. He's not going to steal games, at least, not at anywhere near the rate Halak will when healthy and on his game, but when the team is solid in front of him, he'll easily put up above-average goaltending numbers which *should* be enough to get the job done. Add in the fact that he's making somewhere around half what Halak makes, a consideration that I'm sure comes into play for the budget-conscious Blues, with a slew of UFAs and RFAs to deal with this off-season, and I'd expect him to be back in the Bluenote next season.
Allen. Here's the wildcard in the whole situation. Is he really ready to come in and do occasionally what he did when he salvaged the Blues season when Halak was injured and Elliott was swiss cheese in net? He's up for his RFA deal, so he's not going to break the bank, but what happens here is predicated on two things: Do the Blues really believe he's capable of at least being a legitimate NHL backup, and if so, does Halak get moved? If the answer, particularly to the Halak being moved question, is no, then it's entirely possible that Allen, as a cost-controlled option as an RFA, could bring back some return from a team that needs goaltending. One way of looking at it: He put up comparable numbers to Ben Bishop this year (9-4 to Bishop's 9-5, 2.46 GAA to Bishop's 2.45, and .905 sv% to Bishop's .922), and Bishop netted a young NHL-level scoring prospect in Cory Conacher, along with a fourth round pick at the trade deadline.
Overall, I think Halak gets moved if the possibility for a reasonable return exists, simply due to the financial aspect of the situation, plus his past two years worth of injury history. However, if a team can't be found to take on Halak in light of those issues, then I think Allen will be the odd man out.
6 days, 7 hours ago on Discussing the Halak/Hitchcock argument
Lots of interesting tidbits on there. Thanks for doing all the work compiling them.
1 week, 2 days ago on 70 facts and stats from the 2013 regular season | May | 2013 Articles
If you can, get a hold of the Sens radio announcers call. They tend to be a bit excitable under normal circumstances, but add in the playoff atmosphere, and it got even more entertaining than usual.
1 week, 6 days ago on Video: Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens have a good ol' line brawl | May | 2013 Articles
@David Rogers On shooting percentage, too, when was the last time the Blues popped in a scrum goal? Because they had a bunch of net-front scrum chances last night and didn't capitalize on a single one. At some point, don't you just have to luck into bouncing one off a skate or the goalie's pad or something?
2 weeks, 3 days ago on Game 1: Blues 2, Kings 1 (OT)
Here are the two big differences from last year's Blues/Kings series to this, at least in my eyes:
1) Healthy goaltending. I know Ells doesn't want to use the ear infection as an excuse. Good for him. But trying to face down the eventual Cup winner when not on top of your game? That's a rough road to travel for sure. Add in the fact that it was obvious to anyone with a couple functioning brain cells to rub together that Halak couldn't possibly come in to save him when things got out of hand, as the two did several times during the regular season, and it was a recipe for just the result that happened. A healthy Elliott, back on his game, makes a huge difference in this series all by himself (with a healthy helping of team defense, of course).
2) The fourth line. I know I've already said a few times this year that Reaves and Cracknell are vying for the name and number spot on my next Blues jersey. See tonight for plenty of reasons why they, along with Porter, are making a difference pretty much every shift out there. Reaves annihilating opponents with multiple hits a shift, Porter's speed and enough of a shot to be a credible threat, and Cracknell's tenacity and strength on the puck keep shining through. Last year, it was always up to the Backes/Oshie/X line to generate those big momentum shifts in big games when the fourth line minutes dropped. This year, even in clearly limited time, the fourth line continually makes its presence felt, and they did it again tonight.
Now, if the boys can just do something about that abysmal shooting percentage on quality scoring chances, or at least bang one or two in on the scrambles, maybe the rest of this series won't keep trying to take years off my life.
2 weeks, 4 days ago on Game 1: Blues 2, Kings 1 (OT)
@Gundee1114 I can't do anything but agree here. Harding's the clear favorite, and the runner up isn't even in shouting distance.
3 weeks, 2 days ago on Minnesota's Josh Harding is the clear favorite for the Masterton Trophy | April | 2013 Articles
You must've been reading my mind. I was actually talking to another friend of mine about this possibility yesterday. One interesting tidbit is that it's the Wings second 20+ season playoff-entry streak, as they had a previous 20 season run from the 38-39 campaign through the 57-58 season.
4 weeks, 1 day ago on Detroit Red Wings' playoff streak in jeopardy | April | 2013 Articles
At this point, get in and win a couple of rounds. I'll admit, I'm one of those who thought that the Blues would rededicate themselves after losing to the Kings in the second round last year - learn the lessons of the playoff wars and come out stronger, tougher, meaner, with a chip on their shoulder and a need to prove that last year's 109 points were not a mere fluke of goalies playing over their ceilings.
Now, I'm not quite sure what to think. There seems to be some odd sliding scale between offensive output, particularly on the power play, and perfecting the Hitchcock defensive system. As one increases, the other decreases pretty much directly in tandem. Squeaking out shootout wins won't cut it come playoff time - there aren't any shootouts to squeak out of. And scoring one goal a game is unlikely to provide many wins come playoff time, either.
All that said, here's hoping the boys can get on a general roll, move up into 4th for the home ice in the first round, and see what happens.
1 month ago on Blues control their own playoff destiny
This is one of those things that seems oddly obvious in retrospect. Certainly, bruises from blocking shots are painful, even at the teenage amateur/casual level, but the way this lingered makes a lot more sense now that we know what the issue was. Like you said, hopefully Oshie can recover quickly and still make an impact on the rest of the season, but when you start talking about surgery on something like this, that's going to be something of an open question.
1 month ago on T.J. Oshie has a stress fracture, requires surgery
Some of us knew there was plenty of blame to go around. Sure, there were some softies going through both Elliott and Halak after the 6-1-0 start, but there were also gaping holes in the team defense, particularly in the nature of backchecking on the part of the forwards, and failure to properly play the offensive system - failure to get the puck past the opposing blueline being a big contributing factor to odd-man rushes against, which are about the best way in hockey to hang a goalie out to dry.
The Blues goaltending didn't look awful for no reason, in other words. Sure, part of it was the goalies not stopping shots they should have stopped, but part of it was also the team allowing shots that they shouldn't have allowed in the first place.
This is probably a good time for me to re-up, or re-buy-in, to something I've said a couple of times already: It's interesting to me how, when this team follows their responsibilities in Hitchcock's system, the goalies look better, the shots against drop, the quality shots against really drop, the number of shutouts increase, the PK looks better, and the goals for and power play success fall. Welcome to defensively responsible hockey.
1 month ago on Brian Elliott posts third consecutive shutout, silences his critics
This felt less like a Backes goal, characterized by standing in front of the net and deflecting shots and/or whacking away at rebounds, and more like an Oshie goal, scored without the skates on the ice. Maybe this was just the captain telling Oshie to hurry back off of IR, or he's going to steal his schtick.
1 month, 1 week ago on David Backes scores while he's on his back | April | 2013 Articles
That's a really interesting bit of inside hockey. Certainly, a lot more interesting than sitting around yesterday wondering if something interesting was going to happen. heh
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Vancouver reveals the Derek Roy trade call | April | 2013 Articles
Oil's big in Russia right now. He could've been serious about buying into an oil company, except he probably wasn't.
Since I didn't wake up this morning to anybody saying that Doug Armstrong came out this morning and had a media scrum where he declared April Fools on the Bouwmeester deal, I think I've pretty much missed the AF set this year.
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Pavel Datsyuk's April Fools' Day joke was ... something | April | 2013 Articles
Perron+ for a legitimate top pairing shutdown LHD. For the reasons listed above, plus I think there is a chance that an Eastern team might bite on him given his skillset and the more open offensive environment in the East. The idea would be to both fill an obvious need, while removing a source of continuous costly errors, with the added option to show this core of players that they're not going to run a third successive coach out of town with their lackadaisical play.
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Latest NHL Fan Face Off survey has some interesting questions | April | 2013 Articles
@David Rogers The St. Louis Blues or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Trust Doug Armstrong
Pretty much that. In these situations where I'm not sure of a move personally, it's easiest just to trust Army. He's got enough of a track record of being right that I can generally convince myself that things will work out regarding the personnel moves he makes.
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Blues acquire Jordan Leopold from Buffalo
@David Rogers Yeah, Army caught me out doing some last-minute shopping I needed to do before packing and getting my stuff moved for the new job. heheh Needless to say, the lazy afternoon sports talk radio shows had nothing, so the surprise was waiting for me on Twitter.
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Jake Allen sent to Peoria, Blues will use Halak/Elliott rest of the way