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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 week 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 week 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 week, 1 day 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 week, 5 days 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 week, 6 days 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 week, 6 days 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.

2 weeks, 2 days 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.

2 weeks, 2 days 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.

2 weeks, 3 days 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.

2 weeks, 4 days 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.

3 weeks, 2 days 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.

3 weeks, 2 days 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.

3 weeks, 3 days 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.

3 weeks, 6 days 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 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 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?

1 month 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.

1 month 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.

1 month 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.

1 month, 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.

4 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.

4 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.

4 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.

4 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.

4 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.

4 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.

4 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.

4 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.

4 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.

4 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?

4 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.

4 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.

5 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.)

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

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I blame geography.  Clearly Los Angeles' physical location is in the wrong here.

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

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@David Rogers @miendiem I certainly don't disagree, but...  Don't I get to irrationally like even one fourth-line grinder?  heheh

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/blues-sign-joakim-lindstrom.html

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This gives the Blues a fairly sizable contingent of guys who at least *can* play left wing.  To me, this looks like direct competition for Magnus Paajarvi for the 3L slot, and otherwise, functional depth.  Nothing I've read, though admittedly, that isn't much, doesn't parse Lindstrom out as someone to plug in on the fourth line in a pinch.


Meanwhile, I think this may be a sideways preview that the Chris Porter era is done with the Blues, though I suppose he still has the chance to catch on at the fourth line level.  Not really anything to get excited about, certainly, but I like the guy enough for his speed that I'd be at least a little sad to see him go.  Long live the CPR line?

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/blues-sign-joakim-lindstrom.html

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Because the Central needed to become an even *tougher* division.

6 months ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2014-articles/pekka-rinne-named-mvp-of-2014-world-championship.html

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Compared to a coach that can get the guys to put the puck on net, and a coach that can get the power play back to where it was for the first couple of months of last season, I'm not certain that goaltending coach needs to be all that high up the list of priorities.  That said, if I had to pick one, I'd take Corsi... mostly because he's got his name on a Fancy Stat, and the other suggested candidates don't.

6 months ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/goaltending-coach-candidates-include-jim-corsi-mitch-korn-and-ty-conklin.html

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And now eyes turn, as they should, to see how Armstrong will address those needs that cropped up so clearly in the season's closing month, plus the playoffs.  Issues that, not incidentally, have cropped up over the past couple of years as well -- Scoring, scoring, scoring on the power play, and some more nastiness on D.


I know I've said this before, but I'll reiterate it for fun and profit:  The Blues need to find a way to bring in a playmaking center to put between Schwartz and Tarasenko.  They likely need to address a third line winger, and if it has to be a veteran experience-bringer, let's pick the best goal-scorer of the bunch this time, shall we?  And finally, one more person-moving D man to balance out the abilities of the pairs (yes, this is me advocating splitting up Petro and Bouwmeester again, given the right new infusion of talent).


Who will those guys be?  I'm certainly not ready to venture any uneducated guesses at this point, but it should make for some interesting speculation and rumor-watching post-Cup Finals, eh?

6 months ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/blues-let-ryan-miller-walk-trade-was-an-expensive-rental.html

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I tossed in a yes vote, not because I think the D needs all that much shaking up, but because, depending on what ends up available, and at what price, in free agency, I think it might be necessary to deal one in order to bring in a true 1C to put together a second (first?) scoring line to go with the Backes/Oshie/Steen trio.

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

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Unsurprisingly, I'm absolutely okay with this move.  When we were post-mortem-ing the season and playoffs, I made the contention in some post or another that any competent goaltender put behind Hitch's system, with the relevant buy-in from the skaters, can post numbers like these, and that it therefore makes more sense to concentrate the pool of available money on improving the offense.  Provided that management tries it, I expect we're about to find out if that's true.


Meanwhile, just for fun, who thinks that Brian Elliott will survive the Jake Allen era just as well as he's survived the Jaroslav Halak and Ryan Miller eras?

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

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Shut up, Pierre.

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

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That was, indeed, pretty bad.  But, as expected, Yakety Sax makes everything better.

6 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2014-articles/video-finlands-hilariously-bad-line-change.html

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Personally, the more I look at the numbers, the more I'm convinced that any competent goaltender can post the kind of numbers Blues starters have been posting for the past three years backstopping Hitch-coached teams.  His defensive system simply lends itself to that - and also seems to prevent a lot of chances to stop what might otherwise be stoppable pucks when pucks get only partially blocked, or the goalie is screened by his own defense.  Clearly, given the roughly 2.20 GAA the past three seasons, on average, this is not a huge issue.  Thus, I would propose saving the difference in what it would cost to keep Miller by letting him walk, because it seems unlikely that he would substantially upgrade the numbers the Blues have already been posting on the goals-allowed side for what it would cost to keep him.


I'm not trying to come across as "throw the bum out" here.  There were plenty of issues in front of Miller down the stretch, and in the playoffs, that wound up reflecting poorly on his stats through little fault of his own.


That said, if the Blues are going to carry two goalies (likelihood: 100%), given the performance of the past three years, which would you prefer of the following?


Scenario 1)

Miller - In the $5-6M range

Allen - $850k (he's under contract through the end of next season for this amount)


Scenario 2)

Allen - $850k

Elliott (or equivalent) - ~$2-2.5M

And then take the difference, plus not bringing back an ex-Star or two, and put it into a scoring line centerman.


Now we'll wander well off into the weeds:  Can you, or can you not, see the Blues ownership spending substantially more on payroll next season, if the cap goes up?  (Again, with the whole Canadian dollar thing, it may not, but between now and when the cap gets locked in for next year, who knows?)  If you can, then maybe scenario one makes more sense.  If not, then I think it makes all the sense in the world to try to furnish the team with another scoring threat, preferably somebody who'll make a whole line better, and take the calculated risk that any competent goalie will do.

6 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/

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@David RogersI'm not sure how I stumbled upon "people-moving d-men", but it sure does work, doesn't it?

Regarding Polak - That's the feel I have, too, but it's just a feeling.  I only got to watch two of the games, and I don't really have any way to quantify it.

Now that you mention it, I wonder how the entire defense compares, two years ago, to last year, to this year.  The reason I think of it is, while the Blues are still certainly doing well by the stat of goals allowed, and shutouts are at least somewhat reliant on not having bad bounces or excellent tips by the opponent, it seems like the Blues goals against has been creeping up since 2011-2012.

So, let's have a look:

2011-2012: (82 games)

Halak: 1.97 GAA, .926 Sv% (90G/1211SA), 6 Shutouts

Elliott:  1.56 GAA, .940 Sv% (58G/972SA), 9 Shutouts

2013: (48 games)

Halak:  2.14 GAA, .899 Sv% (29G/286SA), 3 Shutouts

Elliott:  2.28 GAA, .907 Sv% (49G/526SA), 3 Shutouts

Allen:   2.46 GAA, .905 Sv% (33G/346SA), 1 Shutout

2013-2014: (82 games)

Halak:  2.23 GAA, .917 Sv% (83G/1002SA), 4 Shutouts

Elliott:  1.96 GAA, .922 Sv% (53G/681SA), 4 Shutouts

Miller:   2.47 GAA, .903 Sv% (46G/474SA), 1 Shutout


The NHL doesn't seem to provide a convenient team Sv% statistic, so we'll go GAA only from here.

2011-2012 Team GAA:  1.89 (1st in league - 2 is LA at 2.07)

2012-2013 Team GAA:  2.38 (8th in league - 1 is Chicago at 2.02, 2 is Ottawa at 2.08)

2013-2014 Team GAA:  2.29 (3rd in league - 1 is LA at 2.05, 2 is Boston at 2.08)


Granted, expecting a sub-2 GAA and fifteen shutouts a year is probably unreasonable in the modern era.  Also granted, the lockout-shortened season was... odd.  But even on the "down" year, measured by goals against, the Blues were still a top ten team in the league, with room to spare.  I'm actually rather surprised by the number from this season, especially with the penchant for giving up odd-man rushes that seemed to really overtake the team at times this year (and which, not incidentally, burned them several times in the Chicago series).


Out of sheer curiosity, let's also go back a couple more years, to see what was going on before Hitch came in.

2010-2011:  2.78 Team GAA (17th in league)

2009-2010:  2.66 Team GAA (T-11th in league, with MON/VAN)

2008-2009:  2.77 Team GAA (12th in league)

2007-2008:  2.83 Team GAA (21st in league)

2006-2007:  3.02 Team GAA (19th in league)

2005-2006:  3.46 Team GAA (28th in league - As a side note, 27th was Chicago, with a 3.40.  Curses.)


Pretty clearly, the Hitch system, plus the maturing of the core, and the advent of the Halak/Elliott tandem on the back end, was worth about half a goal per game, defensively, compared to the three years prior, and nearly a full goal per game during '11-12.  I'm sure that can't be easy to do, but that year's team was the only one in recent memory that I would say I felt at all confident in to stop the bleeding after a goal or two and mount a comeback.  Recapturing that feeling for the team may wind up being every bit as important is a top-line center or a forward with a nose for the net.

6 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/blues-implode-tumble-out-of-the-playoffs.html

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@David Rogers That's exactly why I opted to give him the own mention in the everybody else section, because I'd seen so many people calling for his head (relatively speaking).  I get the desire to have puck-moving defensemen.  Getting out of the zone quickly can solve a lot of problems.  However, here's the other side of the coin:  Those puck-moving d-men, by and large, aren't also people-moving d-men.  And you need some of those, too, to dislodge opponents from the puck, behind the net, in front of the net, on the blueline...  Hence the additional talk about splitting up JBo/Petro and adding one more people-moving d-man to the defensive pairings.

Not unlike the goaltending, I'm not saying that this is the solution to the Blues woes, but also not unlike goaltending, shoring it up with proven ability certainly couldn't hurt.  (Comparatively, of course, the lack of putting the puck into the empty net, or even at times putting it ON net, would definitely solve the lion's share of those woes.)

One more note about Shattenkirk:  Regardless of some of the defensive lapses, he was only -1, and was the top point-producer for the Blues this playoffs, while turning in the sixth-most points on the team in the regular season.

6 months, 4 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/blues-implode-tumble-out-of-the-playoffs.html

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@David Rogers Hindsight being 20/20, if we could've gotten Paajarvi away from Edmonton for Stewart... heh

Again, my issues with Lapierre don't really stem from his play.  Particularly, he actually showed up in the playoffs, which can't necessarily be said of some people with much bigger roles on the team.  But at some point, my irrationality as a fan has to come through, and this is one of those times.  See also: Ott, though he came with less playoff upside.

Also, I suppose I should clarify my "in-betweeners" section just slightly.  None of that should be taken as me saying, "Dump them for the sake of making moves."  The entire defensive corps is in that group, for starters.  I don't see any reasonable scenario that there's heavy turnover within that group.

Finally, if the Blues do finally part ways with Bergie, what would "Teach Me How To Bergie" do for a team name in the Frozen Notes fantasy league?

6 months, 4 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/blues-implode-tumble-out-of-the-playoffs.html

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Kevin Shattenkirk - It seems like he's getting more frustrating to watch on defense year by year.  Sure, he chips in the points, but not at the rate necessary to keep forgiving the defensive softness forever.  Jackman of two years ago made a good defensive partner for him, but it seems pretty clear that age is getting to Jax just a bit, and so what once worked well is now displaying significantly more vulnerability.  As Jax is signed through next year, it seems to me that it's more on Shattenkirk to make the necessary fixes (as it should be), rather than expecting the team to bring in someone else who can cover for him defensively.


Magnus Paajarvi - This isn't really so much a comment on Magnus as it is a comment on what could be done personnel-wise.  If the Blues feel they MUST bring in a veteran again, how about courting Jaromir Jagr to put on a third line with Sobotka's tenacity and faceoff wins, and Paajarvi's speed?  Sure, there's no real reason to think that would be reality, and even if it did, knowing the Blues luck, next year would be the year the wheels finally come off for Jagr, but the combination of speed, puck possession, and a veteran with a proven, honest-to-God nose for the net (as compared to the Dallas retreads)...  That could be an intriguing third line.  (Again, accounting for the fact that it's total pie-in-the-sky, and the chances of that, or something like it, occurring are somewhere around 0.000000001%.  And, before the screaming starts, this assumes money has already been committed to a #1 play-making center)


The Defensive Corps, Generally - Can we get tougher here somewhere, please?  If there's absolute insistence on having a puck-moving D-man on every pairing, is it too much to ask to bring in a big, physical LHD, and split up the Petro/JBo partnership by making JBo another pairing's puck-mover?

**********


The Holes, As I See Them:

(a.k.a.: The short version of what I just spent three replies saying.)

A top-line center to lead an actual scoring line.

A third-line right wing to round out Paajarvi/Sobotka/X.


Only that first one, I think, is a big ask.  And it's entirely likely that getting it could wind up opening a hole somewhere else down the roster due to a trade.  So be it.  We're still dealing with a lineup that, by and large, went out in four to the eventual Cup champs, and then pulled back to back win two, drop four first round losses to the defending Cup champs.  Aside from Tarasenko and Schwartz, I'm not absolutely married to anybody staying on this roster, if they provide the returns needed to actually make the Blues a post-season threat.

6 months, 4 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/blues-implode-tumble-out-of-the-playoffs.html

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