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I expect to be in a rather small minority on this question, but I've been saying all along that I don't really believe this is a coaching issue. If Armstrong (or the next GM, depending on what happens) feels the need to sweep with a truly clean broom and send Hitch packing, I'm not necessarily against it, as part of a larger culture change for the hockey side of the organization, but I'm absolutely against it if it occurs in the absence of actually starting to move out some of the playoff non-performers amongst the skaters. (As an aside, goaltending was, once again, not the problem. Some soft goals, yes, but in four of the six games, the skaters failed to muster anything that could be deemed a winning offense. Note that Dubnyk allowed his share of softies as well, yet his team is moving on to round two... because his team actually had the temerity to score goals in a playoff game more than once or twice.)
We know that Hitchcock hockey can win games. We've seen it for four years now, albeit in the regular season. And then we've seen the times where the team feels the need to go away from the fast, heavy forecheck, the ferocious backcheck, and the punishing play that makes them successful - We saw it cost Brian Elliott his job as starter late in the season, and we saw it again in basically every game in the postseason this year with the exception of game four. The inability to keep the pedal to the metal, or the desire to just turn on cruise control. Call it what you want, but I guarantee you the direction from the coaching staff was not, at any time, "Play at less than 100%, don't challenge for pucks in deep, let the opponent cycle in our zone indefinitely, and be soft on the boards." (Of course, if it was, they should be unceremoniously fired...)
5 hours, 9 minutes ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/
As I said in retweeting JR's post, Says the guy who's probably one of the two players safe from said changes. (The truly safe one, of course, being Vladimir Tarasenko.)
Beyond that, I'd say that Allen, Reaves, and Porter are well on the safe side. Steen and Schwartz are a bit closer to that line, but probably safe in reality unless someone really blows the Blues GM's phone apart with a deal. Elliott should also be safe, but after being passed over yet again for postseason duties, I could see him being desirous of getting out of the situation.
So, we have what, seven, maybe eight guys on a roster of 22 primaries? There's a lot of room there for Army, or his replacement, to be creative in altering the chemistry of the team, at least theoretically.
22 hours, 51 minutes ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/kevin-shattenkirk-expects-the-blues-to-make-changes.html
At the moment, I'd take this a bit further. The Blues need more from everybody not named Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, Jake Allen (the soft first goal last night being his only real dark spot this series), and maybe Alex Pietrangelo.
The rest of the defense corps have ranged from average-looking (Michalek and Jackman, at times), to questionable (Bouwmeester, who I still think never fully recovered from his in-season injury, if his continued inability to win races to pucks is anything to go by), to brutal (Gunnarsson, in basically all facets). This was supposed to be a team strength, and it simply hasn't been. They've been getting beaten like drums in defensive zone board battles, and those who are supposed to be providing that quick outlet transition pass generally haven't been.
As for the forwards, everyone not named Vladimir Tarasenko, Ryan Reaves, and Chris Porter needs to be taking a long, hard look in the mirror right now. Even Jaden Schwartz, normally noted for his takeaways and relentless hounding of the puck, has been silent for long stretches, which is baffling. As has been said elsewhere, when the bright spot (outside of Tarasenko, who's proving to be every bit the game-breaker we hoped for) is a couple of fourth liners, there's an issue with the forwards.
So, to this point, we've had good play from three forwards, two defensemen, and one goaltender. Maybe that'd work if this was pond hockey, and each team only had the six guys to work with, but it's definitely not going to fly in the NHL playoffs, as we've seen amply demonstrated.
I sure hope we're not doing a dissection/post-mortem of the Blues season and playoffs on Sunday evening, but at this point, I certainly don't have a great deal of hope in that regard.
2 days, 4 hours ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/the-blues-need-more-from-t-j-oshie-david-backes-and-paul-stastny.html
While that was going on in Toronto and Edmonton, I always thought it was a silly form of protest at best, and at worst, I was maybe even slightly offended *for* fans of those teams. "My boys, right or wrong", and all, you know? Then seeing it in person, especially after the (lack of) effort shown by the team for long stretches of the second period...
I'm still conflicted about it. At the same time, I can see how someone could be so fed up at the situation that it becomes somehow reasonable to them. "If you guys can't even mount a defense of your crest, here, you can have it back." Because, dammit, same song, different day just isn't cutting it anymore.
Somehow, I fully expect the Blues to win game six in Minnesota on Sunday, and then come back and lay an egg in game seven on Wednesday, just to compete the cycle. And God help ownership if they do, because if one guy in the 100 level is willing to go this route when the team isn't even eliminated yet, I fear for what season ticket re-ups will look like in the offseason.
2 days, 17 hours ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/a-blues-fan-tossed-a-jersey-on-the-ice-during-game-5.html
Not nearly as good as the time he suplexed the Blackhawks Ben Smith.
For those who need or want the amusing refresher: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/ben-bishop-gives-ben-smith-the-rock-bottom--video-035503725.html
Targeting Hawks and Wings, though? Your St. Louis roots are showing, Ben...
3 days, 21 hours ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/the-locker/gif-goaltender-ben-bishop-called-for-holding.html
That's been my guess for a while now. If I recall correctly, he came back into the lineup for the final game of the season, but did not play the full game - we can speculate to the end of the Blues postseason, when they may actually reveal what their injury situation is, as to whether that's accurate or not, but it's certainly the best guess I can make at the moment.
5 days ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/is-robert-bortuzzo-injured.html
@David Rogers I really hope this isn't a conversation that we're piling additions on to after game four. Most of me isn't ready for determining how to stop the Blues from being the Playoff Sharks v2.0, but most of me expects to be talking about it no later than next week. *sigh*
6 days, 3 hours ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/its-time-to-rant-about-the-blues-game-3-loss.html
What I (still) find inexcusable, personally, is that while so much of the roster has been reshaped, the tune remains the same when it comes to the playoffs. Remember, it's basically just the remnants of the old core left at this point (Backes, Oshie, Petro, etc), but the completely lacklustre efforts keep appearing in the regular season, and then reappearing in the postseason to results like we saw last night.
I don't think anybody who looks at my past comments can accuse me of being a Hitchcock hater, but is it something with the coaching and preparation that leads to these dud games? I would be incredibly skeptical of it, except that there are only about four or five players left on the team from the 2011-12 version, but the same things keep cropping up. -- And that said, it's not as though I can imagine any coach saying, "Go out there, play at 70% of regular season form in your first playoff game on the road, and show little to no fire when you get down a goal." But at this point, with all the roster turnover, it's either got to be the coaching, or the old core - one of them is instilling this in the team, and I don't envy Doug Armstrong his job of figuring out which it is if this postseason crashes and burns.
A few questions, while we wait for game four:
Whatever happened to the crashing forecheck? It worked so well when implemented in the regular season, and teams have been successfully implementing it against the Blues in the postseason for the past three years. Sure, Minnesota has speed, but the changes to the Blues were meant to improve the transition game out of their own end. Yet, somehow, Minnesota seems to get out of their zone, while the Blues struggle mightily to get out of theirs. Something's amiss here.
Just once, can we defend the blueline? Aside from blind cross-ice passes in the defensive zone, this is the #1 thing that bugs me about the Blues defensive scheme. Not that it's changed at all from the regular season, but when I try to narrow down what Bortuzzo brings to the table when he's in, it's that he occasionally just steps up at the line and defends, instead of backing 3/4ths of the way to the goal.
Speaking of stepping up, when will we see Blues defenders actually blow up somebody trying to take a shot from the slot? Exhibit A, from last night, was the Parise goal. Three guys around him, everybody trying to stick check him. He has possession, so take the body and plant him on his ass. Nobody scores from there with any regularity except for TJ Oshie.
Once again, the goaltending is not the problem... so where are all the goals? Well, we know the answer to this one, but it'd be nice to see the team find the answer to it on the ice, rather than continuing to have fitful offensive possession and one-and-done shots in the offensive zone.
As an aside, I was out of town watching the game with a buddy of mine last night, and it was very nearly painful. "I could've driven home hours ago and watched this pathetic effort from the comfort of my own home!" Seriously, neither of us were sure that we'd seen an effort by the Blues that brutal since some of the dead-era teams two lockouts ago, when the team had nobody, and wasn't *expected* to be any good. When you're comparing a cap team which, on paper, should be able to compete with the elite of the league with a cellar-dweller that traded away Chris Pronger for a song because non-hockey people advised ownership that it'd make the team easier to sell to a new owner...
If Hitch is right, and the team still has its best hockey game in it, they better find it pretty damned quick. If they don't, the atmosphere at game 5 Friday will be "interesting".
6 days, 5 hours ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/its-time-to-rant-about-the-blues-game-3-loss.html
Sadly, he's wrong. They'll do it anyway. It is, however, possible for the home team fans to functionally drown them out, and it sounds amazing.
As an aside, I'm convinced that tradition started in Chicago because their regular anthem singer is such a bad singer...
2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2015-articles/predators-have-a-plan-to-combat-blackhawks-fans-from-cheering-during-the-anthem.html
Because national TV > local markets that aren't located on the east coast. That is all. *sigh*
2 weeks, 1 day ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/first-round-schedule-blues-and-wild.html
Faceoffs do have some impact on game outcome - certainly more than hits, in a vacuum - but they're only one driver of possession, so they don't tell the whole story, as the stats above show pretty clearly. About the only stat that really correlates at a high percentage to game outcome is goals, of course. But just looking at the numbers isn't going to tell the whole story. For instance, a team in a defensive zone draw situation due to an icing probably gains substantially more from a faceoff win than, say, a team winning a draw at the offensive blueline after an offside call. And even then, with the relatively low-percentage chance of possession and shots converting to goals at the NHL level, it's tough, at best, to quantify what that difference is.
Similarly, while hits (or fights) collectively aren't an indicator of game outcome, statistically, any fan who's been watching games for a while would be hard-pressed not to remember a hit or fight that seemed to turn the momentum of a game. Yes, I know, the math says that this effect is small-to-nonexistant, but I have to wonder, if only because, like faceoffs, not all hits or fights are created equal.
2 weeks, 3 days ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2015-articles/is-it-really-that-important-to-win-faceoffs-in-the-nhl.html
Pretty sure they did this last year with some player or players, though the name(s) escape me. Comparatively, though, it sure is nice to think the team has that potential there in a pinch - especially since Fabbri nearly managed to win himself a roster spot outright, and I can't imagine that playing the season has hurt his game since.
2 weeks, 3 days ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/blues-may-add-robby-fabbri-and-ivan-barbashev-to-playoff-roster.html
@David Rogers I get that a human being can't just go all out all the time, but if it can be done for a couple minutes at the end of a game, couldn't it also at least be done with two minutes to go at the end of a period? Get some more of those opponent-deflating late goals, or at least get them worrying that more of the same is coming when the next period starts.
Part of me hopes that we won't need it as much this year, as Tarasenko is capable of breaking a game any time he gets the puck in the offensive zone and a couple spare seconds. It'd still be a nice extra arrow to have in the quiver, however.
2 weeks, 5 days ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/video-kevin-shattenkirk-sarcastically-applauds-the-officials.html
Brutal officiating tonight, no doubt. That said, though, if they Blues could find the level of play they found after coughing up the breakaway late a bit more often thoughout, without having to be down a goal and in a tight spot, they'd likely find themselves down a goal and in a tight spot less in the future. It's one of the rare times this year that the Blues have shown they actually have another gear they can reach - I just hope they figure out how to reach it with some more regularity here in about a week.
Personally, at the moment, I'd prefer to avoid Minnesota, rather than Chicago. Devan Dubnyk's been playing out of his mind since he got traded to Minnesota, and, contrary to expectations, he hasn't bothered to cool off yet. I just have this sneaking suspicion that he's going to take the Wild into the playoffs and pull a Halak-with-Montreal kind of run to the conference finals.
Sure, Chicago is the elephant in the room when it comes to the Central, and the Kings are that sleeping bear who everyone's hoping will wake up too late to actually make trouble for people in the second season, but compared to what Dubnyk's shown in Minnesota, and the fact that the Wild have given the Blues fits all year... Such a brutal conference, all things considered.
2 weeks, 5 days ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/blues-odds-of-winning-the-cup-improving-in-vegas.html
I'm that guy. Yes, the guy still supporting Brian Elliott while folks are hopping on the Jake Allen bandwagon en masse.
I'm certainly aware of the reasons to like Jake Allen. He's been stellar recently (as in, since the All-Star Break, pretty much). He's likely got the higher upside as a goaltender. He's almost certainly the more likely of the two to be able to steal a game in a pinch. What have you done for me lately, Jake Allen? ... Well, you've beaten the Blackhawks in regulation time IN CHICAGO for the first time in Coach Hitch's tenure with the Blues. Pretty tough to argue with that credential. The guy's on fire right at the moment, and that's a good enough reason to ride him until he stops being on fire... isn't it?
Then we get to Brian Elliott, who, all of a sudden, isn't winning hockey games. Who, supposedly, lost us a couple of playoff series. --- Stop for a second here. Unless we're going to somehow pin the Blues skaters desire to all play their own individual systems on Elliott, his losing streak coincides directly with the team deciding not to actually play defensively-responsible Hitchcock hockey. We don't even have to go that far back in time to see this in action. Remember the 7-5 Dallas game on Friday? The one where he stopped not one, but two breakaways stone cold before finally giving up a goal on the third one? And that doesn't even begin to account for all the other odd-man rushes and defensive lapses in his past few games in net..
I'm sorry, but if you somehow pull mid-to-late 90s Dominik Hasek out of a time machine and put him in net, I don't expect he's going to do any better with that level of defensive support.
If we want to argue that the team is, for whatever reason, more willing to play defense in front of Jake Allen than they are in front of Brian Elliott, that might actually be an argument in favor of playing Allen. That would frustrate me as a fan of the team, certainly, but if that's how it's going to be, I can find a way to live with it. (I think... Check back after the postseason, in that case. heh)
As for the argument that Elliott lost us playoff series: Plain and simple, I don't buy it.
2011-12 (Halak gets injured in round one) - Elliot plays 8 postseason games. Wins 3 to finish the Sharks series, then gets swept out by the Kings. That year, he had a 2.37 GAA, allowing 18 goals on 455 shots, for a .904 sv%. Not great, but seriously, 2.37 goals allowed per game. (Stop me if I'm wrong, but this was the year that Hitchcock's favorite line was that it was a 3-2 league, and the first team to 3 goals usually won.) Not dominant numbers, but hardly the numbers of a goaltender losing series for his team.
2012-13 - Elliott plays 6 postseason games. He allowed 12 goals on 378 shots (.919sv%), and posted a 1.90 GAA. The games ended as follows: 2-1 Blues (OT). 2-1 Blues. 1-0 Kings. 4-3 Kings. 3-2 Kings (OT). 2-1 Kings. -- Sure, maybe you'd like him to have stolen game four. Can we make a serious argument that he was the problem in this series, though? The Blues scored 10 goals in six games, while allowing 12 in six games.
At the end of the day, then, I think the argument has to be this: Is Jake Allen on a hot streak - or has he reached the next level of his professional development as a goalie. If the former, this is probably not the greatest time to try switching #1 goalies. If the latter, Allen is the better playoff option (at least, if all that theoretical stuff earlier about his ceiling as a goalie being higher, etc, is accurate).
Idle thought #1: I'm glad I don't have to make this decision for the playoffs. Whatever choice is made, if it doesn't result in, at the least, a deep run, I can just imagine the volume of complaints directed at Hitchcock.
Idle thought #2: Does anyone think that, deep down, the Minnesota Wild coaches are having exactly the same thoughts about Dubnyk that I posited above about Allen? Though it's a smaller sample size, Darcy Kuemper posted solid numbers in last year's playoffs when called upon, after all. (3-1, 2.03, .913)
2 weeks, 6 days ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/blues-riding-hot-hand-in-net-brian-elliott-doesnt-sound-happy.html
Too bad we can't expect the boys to somehow get the Flames in the first round. They haven't given us nearly the fits that a lot of the other playoff-contending Western teams have. heh Of course, the Blues just made their road to a playoff spot of any kind that much harder tonight, as LA will be just a point back of them for 3rd in the Pacific with a game in hand.
It was certainly nice to see the team wake back up to the joys of playing Hitch's system, locking the opponent down and playing substantial minutes in the offensive zone as a result. Now, let's see it again tomorrow against Dallas.
3 weeks, 3 days ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/blues-are-officially-playoff-bound.html
Jaro opened himself up to that with the poke check. To be a fly on the wall in his mind to hear what he was thinking on that slow approach...
3 weeks, 3 days ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/the-locker/gif-ryan-johansen-barely-moves-scores-shootout-goal.html
I've been seeing a lot of people on Twitter after this game agreeing with Oshie's take on what's wrong with things. Frankly, I just can't agree that Hitchcock's coaching has suddenly become the problem. I had the misfortune to be at the game against Columbus on Saturday. Plenty of blind passes, passes to the opponent, failure to win even half of the board battles, missed defensive assignments... The list could go on and on. We've seen this team play Hitchcock hockey and win. Substantially, in a lot of cases. We've seen, going back to 2011-12, what even a lesser-skilled team can do when they apply Hitch's defensive concepts - that won the team a Jennings Trophy that year.
Still, it seems like every year after that first year that the team goes through a stretch or two where they just don't feel like playing to the demands of the system anymore. They'd rather play loose and free, like some free-wheeling 80s team. And when they do that, they lose, repeatedly, and we get another round of speculation about whether or not the team has finally tuned out (yet another) coach.
I've also seen more than enough questioning of Elliott's capabilities tonight. Honestly, I get to the point where I wonder if some of these people actually watch, or even listen, to the games, or if they just look at the resulting box score and go off on their pre-programmed rants. When your goalie has already bailed your miserable defense out on not one, but TWO, breakaways, it just might be incumbent on the skaters to actually backcheck for a change. Keeping gap closure to the point that they can tie up an opponent's stick might also, possibly, be a good idea. (See: Jaskin, Dmitrij - on the second Vancouver goal, as exhibit A.) It's well known that I'm not a Steve Ott fan, but the odd-man rush that resulted in the third goal was caused by him failing to support Bouwmeester's pinch to hold the puck in the offensive zone. Still, of the three goals Elliott allowed, this is the one that we can argue that he should have stopped.
All that said, I'm still not ready to break the glass and mash the panic button. We've seen the team under Hitch do this several times before and then round back into form. As long as they can avoid a repeat of last April, I still have faith that they'll be ready for the postseason.
As a quick reminder:
4/1/14 - 1-0W vs PHI (SO)
4/3/14 - 2-1W vs BUF
4/5/14 - 0-4L vs COL
4/6/14 - 2-4L @CHI
4/8/14 - 1-4L vs WAS
4/10/14 - 2-4L @MIN
4/11/14 - 0-3L @DAL
4/13/14 - 0-3L vs DET
3 weeks, 6 days ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/michalek-it-seems-like-everybodys-doing-different-things-and-isnt-on-the-same-page.html
Okay, I looked at it. And I'm not sure if it really counts as common or an outlier. Small sample size may be a thing as well here, as could quality of competition.
Depending on how you want to determine success, the Blues may well be the worst team in the league on long rest, with three points in eight games. Edmonton has only two points on long rest, but have only four long rest games. (1-3-0). San Jose is barely better, at 2-5-0.
Other playoff teams on the low end of points earning in long rest situations are:Winnipeg - 4 points (2-2-0)
Washington - 5 points (2-3-1)
Vancouver - 5 points (2-3-1)
The ten best teams in long rest situations are a bit more like what I would've expected the whole list to shake out like. Only three non-playoff teams are in the top ten: Florida, Columbus, and Calgary (and Calgary's right on the edge in the Pacific).
Montreal and Florida lead that pack with 13 points (6-1-1), followed by Detroit with 13 points (6-2-1), and then Nashville with 12 points (6-0-0). The rest of the list is NYR, Tampa, Chicago, Columbus, Minnesota, Calgary.
The only team in the league other than the Blues with as many outright losses on long rest is Carolina (2-6-0). Buffalo joins San Jose in the five loss category at 2-5-1. Arizona limps in at 2-4-1.
Without dredging up a bunch of historical data, I'm not sure what else to say about this, but it's certainly odd, for a team that's otherwise won so much this year.
Final note: In doing the research for this, I discovered that Columbus entire schedule for the month of November was played on Tuesday/Friday/Saturday.
4 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/its-been-9-games-since-the-blues-scored-in-the-first-period.html
It didn't help that they looked like they essentially had no energy last night, specifically. No crispness to the passes, a lot of misses on defensive responsibility. It was a game that could've been way out of hand if not for Elliott being awake early. Particularly, there were a lot of attempts to pass to the slot when the only player in the slot was a Blue Jacket, which lead to a lot of odd-man or 3-on-3 rush chances against. Sooner or later, that couldn't help but catch up to the team.
Time will tell, of course, but this really seems more like one of those random slumps that happens during a season. Granted, it's not like they've been seriously lighting opponents up in the first before this streak, but unless they manage to extend it to something truly ridiculous (like, say, through the end of the regular season), I don't think it's particularly cause for concern in the long term.
Also, this stat from JR stood out to me: "After last night's loss, the #stlblues are 1-6-1 this season when they have 3-plus days of rest." I have to wonder if that's at all common in the league, or if it's an outlier. Be a lot of grunt work to determine, but I might be bored waiting for more hockey this afternoon...
4 weeks, 1 day ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/its-been-9-games-since-the-blues-scored-in-the-first-period.html
@David Rogers What really got me was listening to the KMOX sports open lines on Monday (after the first Allen start) and Tuesday (after the second one), where the tune of the hosts totally changed from "Elliott's still the guy" to "Maybe Allen's making it a really difficult choice?" And, of course, nobody who called in could make the simple argument above. heh
I certainly didn't expect Allen to get that second start, if only because I was locked into the previous line of thinking that the team was preparing him for the playoffs, and the firepower offered by the Penguins would be a decent test in that regard. Still, it's a cross-conference matchup, so, by the same token, it's a good classic case for giving the backup goalie another start.
On another note, I'll admit, I'm a bit prone to said knee-jerk reactions, but it usually revolves around scratching someone instead of Berglund after he has a particularly bad game, like the Detroit one. When one's worst concerns with the roster revolve around a third-line winger spot... the lineup's probably in pretty good shape, wouldn't you say?
1 month ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/
It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that I approve of this. The majority of Elliott's playoff losses have been caused, not, primarily, by the play of Brian Elliott, but by the inability of the skaters on his team to put the puck in the opposing net. Hopefully, the new players brought in for this season will have remedied this problem, and we can finally put the idea that "Brian Elliott is not a playoff-capable goaltender" to bed.
See also: Elliott's postseason numbers with the Blues, from blues.nhl.com player stats page
0 Goals Against
18 Shots Against
GP 6 W
0 Goals Against
12 Shots Against
Not only no, but absolutely no. Daytime hockey is bad enough on the weekends, though I understand why it happens for the television side of things. (Poor Sens fans, from a certain point of view - they get far more than their fair share of Saturday afternoon games, because of TV.) I can't imagine that working out state-side, especially on a Tuesday/Wednesday schedule - the NCAA gets away with it to some extent because they're scheduling these at the end of the work week.
Sure, I'd be happy to be wrong if it actually boosted hockey's popularity in the U.S., but.. sorry, I just can't see that becoming reality.
1 month ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2015-articles/should-the-nhl-try-daytime-weekday-playoff-games.html
Just think of Shattenkirk on a third D pairing during the early part of his return from injury. Talk about matchup nightmares for the opposition if he gets minutes at the same time as, say, the Stastny line. Also, hopefully he can go ahead and wake the PP back up. Well, that's a relative thing, I suppose. It's still performing decently enough, it just hasn't been burying opponents like it was early in the season. (Come to think of it, I wonder what PP/PK% looks like over the course of a season... somebody's gotta have that data. My hypothesis being that PK% rises and PP% drops over the course of a season, generally.)
Meanwhile, as much as I like this news, I have to say there's also some frustration for me today. Jaskin sitting instead of Bergie? After the Detroit game? Unless it's actually a minor physical issue for Jaskin resulting in him getting a game off, plus the three days break before Saturday's game... argh. I think my past comments have been pretty fair to Berglund, but that might have been the most brutal I've seen him play, ever.
1 month ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/kevin-shattenkirk-nearing-a-return.html
@David Rogers Agreed 100%. And, while we're at it, was Berglund channeling his inner Perron today? Two offensive zone minors taken, and lots of soft play with the puck.
1 month ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/ken-hitchcock-comments-on-detroits-controversial-ot-goal.html
As annoyed as I am that the refs (and, by extension, the league, via the war room in Toronto) miserably failed to get the call correct here, I'm more annoyed that the Blues have once again failed to just put a team away, and prevent the game from getting to this point. At some point, the saying goes, you have to make your own luck - something the Blues have been failing at miserably, lately, in games that shouldn't really be close calls.
I'm old enough to remember (and appreciate) ties in hockey. But I can see why the league wouldn't want to revert to having them. That said, if we're talking about extending the length of overtime, is there anything necessarily wrong with just giving that extended time to the 4-on-4 play? It's already an open enough format, yet still resembles actual hockey, which I'm not necessarily convinced 3-on-3 will. Sure, a couple extra minutes of 4-on-4 might not actually end up deciding things, but it's not like 3-on-3 is going to suddenly guarantee endings, either.
Also, I'm fully on board with moving to a three point game structure. Or, alternatively, just going to a Win/Loss structure, while keeping ROW as a tiebreak, and throwing "points" out entirely as something of an extension of the idea discussed by Cam Lewis here: http://nhlnumbers.com/2015/3/18/awarding-points-and-the-2015-playoff-race
1 month, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2015-articles/roundtable-discussing-the-nhl-moving-to-3-on-3-ot-hockey.html
With as long as the team has been waiting to finally drop the hammer on the rebuild, I can't say it surprises me that the speculation has finally come true. It should make for a very interesting offseason watching the Leafs, if nothing else.
1 month, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2015-articles/maple-leafs-forward-says-dressing-room-is-pretty-screwed-up.html
@David Rogers This might sound conservative, but I expect something along the lines of a 50/32 split Ells/Allen, which would actually be a slight improvement for Allen's playing time compared to this year, assuming he gets two more games down the stretch on half of each of the two remaining back-to-back sets. If Elliott really manages to grab the reins, maybe something more like a 55/27 split. Allen started 26 games this year, and appeared in 30, to date. Elliott, if he plays everything but half of the two remaining back-to-backs will end with 49 starts and 50 appearances. The remainder, as I'm obliged to state rather than pay taxes to NHL officiating, belong to Mr. Brodeur
Just for fun, I said this on July 7th of last year regarding the potential outcome of this year's goaltending battle for time: "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." (http://frozennotes.com/2014/ken-hitchcock-on-goaltending-this-is-brian-elliotts-job.html)
1 month, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/brian-elliott-has-the-most-shutouts-in-st-louis-blues-history.html
@David Rogers That's more or less what I'm getting at. Not really as a tanking thing, but rather, I'd prefer to face whoever we get with the team as close to 100% as possible, rather than pushing for home ice at all costs and getting dinged up down the stretch when we could give a guy a maintenance day here or there to reduce the chances of repeating last (post-)season.
1 month, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/blues-have-the-depth-to-rest-key-players-down-the-stretch.html
@David Rogers I certainly agree with the principle there. I just can't help thinking back to last year, where nobody got rested at all, and seemingly everybody in the top six forwards got dinged up in the last two weeks of the season trying to bank points at all costs. Between a first-round matchup with a wildcard team, and a healthy team ready to take on all comers, I'll take the latter. Of course, even resting guys, there's no guarantee of that, but it's equally plausible that the Blues have a mini slump between now and the end of the year and Nashville or Chicago go on by to first in the division even if they don't try to get the top six a game or two off.
Let's see if this gets extended to the top six forwards, before we get too enthusiastic about it. Especially Oshie/Steen/Backes, who, given past performance, are going to be tasked with huge minutes in the playoffs.
From Jeremy Rutherford's article today: “We ask that line to do everything,” Hitchcock said. “We ask the line to
check the other team’s top players, we ask the line to do everything,
and most nights they do everything for us. They’re a hell of a line.
They’re a committed 200-foot line. You talk about 200 feet, that line is
Here's hoping he's not the next goalie run out of town on a rail before he hits even six years with the org, and he can build up a record that'll actually last for a while. Honestly, though, the way this town goes through goalies, I have my doubts.
"... And if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
1 month, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/the-locker/video-corey-crawford-spaces-out-on-the-bench.html
Frankly, I'd prefer to see more talk about moving the league to a three point game system to try to reduce the amount of games that even go to overtime in the first place. I know there's plenty of speculation that the league likes the way that three point games in what's supposed to be a two point system creates an artificial logjam in the standings, but if we're talking about trying to reduce things that have an artificial impact on the regular season anyway...
Anyway, as to the actual topic, I'm not really for or against 3-on-3 overtime, and since it seems to have worked out fairly well for the AHL for its stated purpose of reducing shootouts, the league may as well give it a go.
1 month, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2015-articles/report-3-on-3-ot-hockey-is-coming-to-the-nhl-pending-nhlpa-approval.html
Not only was Stewart part of Blues teams that didn't have that killer instinct when they had an opponent down, he was quite possibly the banner carrier of it while he was here. Like Berglund, frustrating with those flashes of what he could be, but unlike Berglund, not capable of being a defensively-responsible center who at least drives possession, if not scoring chances, when he's not on a hot streak.
Now, if only we could do backsies on a few trades, and send Stewie to Edmonton in a salary dump instead of Perron, then send out Bergie in the Miller trade, and suddenly, Stastny's line is complete (Perron, Jaskin). Ah well, a fan can dream, can't he?
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/
@David Rogers Apparently basic counting is hard for me. I missed a season of games for Halak, somehow. His actual Blues numbers are 20 shutouts in 159 games, or a 12.5% rate. Still a marked improvement over his numbers elsewhere, of course.
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/brian-elliott-ties-jaroslav-halak-for-blues-shutout-record.html
Knowing my luck in fantasy this year, this means that Perry will get games for an illegal check to the head as supplemental discipline. heheh
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/the-locker/video-devan-dubnyks-theatrical-dive-against-the-ducks.html
@David Rogers There was something about that 11-12 team that hasn't really been recaptured since, defensively. It's just a shame that they didn't have the offensive punch to complement the ridiculously good defense that year, though, to be fair, the Kings romped over everybody in the playoffs anyway.
But it worked out so well for the Preds with Radulov! ... wait, no it didn't.
Seriously, though, between Stastny and Lehtera, Sobotka would be looking at either fourth line center or third line wing minutes, at best. Somehow, I doubt that's the situation he wants to come back to, even if the money issue were solved.
The Blues and goaltending is an odd beast, for sure. Hall or Plante probably could've set a much larger record, but the Blues had both right near the end of their careers. They didn't have a long-term goalie (again?) until Mike Liut in the 79-80 through 84-85 seasons, and he posted only ten shutouts over those six seasons - granted a time in the NHL when scoring was well above the rates seen today.
CuJo also played parts of six seasons (the first, in 89-90, as a backup to Riendeau), and had five shutouts in that time. Grant Fuhr followed that up by posting 11 shutouts in four years, after which the Blues kept no starting goalie for more than two years until Halak and Elliott came to town.
Halak posted those 20 shutouts in 102 games. Comparatively, Elliott posted his in 131 games. Both pretty crazy numbers, when you stop and think about it. Just under 20% of starts for Halak, and a bit over 15% of starts for Elliott, resulted in shutouts.
Finally, just for fun, Halak's shutout numbers outside of the STL years: 12 in 146 games, a roughly 8% rate. And Elliott's: 9 in 142, a roughly 6% rate. Something in the water in St. Louis these days? ... or something in the system being coached? heh
It's not strange that I didn't notice JK and Pang call Bergie's number all night. ... ... ... Wait, it's because he didn't play this time?
The more things change...
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/berglund-benched-due-to-coachs-decision.html
Normally, the crowd noise doesn't get terribly loud on the TV broadcasts, but after that hit (and a couple other times), the "Let's Go Blues!" came through really clearly for quite a while. I can only imagine how good the atmosphere was in the rink.
Too bad the Blues don't have any games left against the Rangers this season. About the only way to top that Backes hit would be an old-time Oshie reverse hit on Nash. https://youtu.be/VAOITsia6HE
@David Rogers That, and the nose and ears. It obviously has Oshie's permanent blush. heh
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/tarasenko-doesnt-think-his-bobblehead-looks-like-him.html
I still say it looks like some kind of Frankensteinian Oshie/Pang hybrid.
If that's a regular season game, I'd give a lot to see these two teams play seven when everybody (on both sides) is healthy.
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/gif-barret-jackman-scores-from-center-ice-to-sink-the-jets.html
There's been so much talk about the Leafs potentially being active moving players from their roster in the offseason, but I think that it's entirely likely that the Sharks could wind up doing much the same thing, especially if they end up on the outside looking in to the playoff picture, which is becoming more probable by the day.
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2015-articles/report-sharks-convinced-gm-doug-wilson-keep-antti-niemi.html
That's absolutely Datsyukian.
A lot of people out there can't, for whatever reason, get over the fact that Elliott was not a stellar goaltender from the word "go" in the NHL, which caused a lot of the "Allen is the Future(tm)" talk. Maybe Allen does have the higher ceiling, but in the meantime, we have Ells in his prime goaltending years, so Allen has a couple of years to gain the necessary seasoning... not unlike what happened in Elliott's first few years in the league.
Of course, my opinion on this doesn't count in a lot of places, since I'm clearly a believer in Elliott. heheh
1 month, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/jake-allen-developing-slower-than-expected.html