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The easiest way to put it is that the goal was wholly Miller's fault, and the loss was wholly the skaters' faults.  Too many grade-A scoring chances missed.  Miller gave them every chance they needed, honestly.  Not unlike game 3 last year, really...  Pinning a 1-0 loss on the goalie is nonsensical, regardless of how soft the one goal was.  The worst team in the league this year averaged nearly two a game, and neither the Blues nor the Hawks fall into that category.

14 hours, 14 minutes ago on

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They've had to do it without my help so far, since I was traveling for Easter.  Now, though...  Can't wait for game time.

1 day, 15 hours ago on

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@David Rogers And if he could actually be a positive in penalties drawn versus penalties taken, I could see that being somewhat useful.  As-is, though...

1 week ago on

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@David Rogers The fact that I can't conceive of a way for him to be colder, stats-wise, than Ott is a frightening concept that I'm not quite ready to contemplate.

1 week, 1 day ago on

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Regardless of the outcome of the Miller portion, this is the part of the trade that I'll never be able to make myself like, and his play certainly didn't help influence my opinion positively.

1 week, 1 day ago on

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@David Rogers If there was some kind of skater-independent-goaltending advanced stat (think Fielding-Independent Pitching, but inverted, and hockey-ized), I'd love to see it for Miller's time with the Blues.  I honestly don't think he's been as bad as the pure numbers would indicate, but it's tough to get at it past all the breakaways and X-on-1s that the Blues gave up down the stretch.  It reminded me a lot of last year, actually, when the team was just hanging Halak and Elliott out to dry on a regular basis.

Quick aside, can we get the defensemen, at least, to switch to sticks that don't randomly explode at the most inopportune moment at the opponent's blue line MULTIPLE TIMES A GAME?

My expectations for this deal are still entirely tied to the playoff performance, but, again, if the team doesn't improve in front of him, it's a null equation from the get-go.  I'm willing to admit that there have to be better hockey minds out there than myself, as they're running NHL teams, and I'm not, but I think that the real argument that should be made is not that Miller will or won't improve the team (though clearly, he's likely to do one or the other, and probably not by much in either direction, given just how good Elliott was the past two years, on average), but rather that the need that should have been addressed was scoring.  And that, given the cost of, say, a Vanek rental at the deadline, versus what it cost to bring in Miller, makes for a very interesting argument indeed.

Frankly, the team has looked merely very good to good since about the beginning of February, and downright mortal since mid-to-late March, when it comes to putting the puck in the net.  Normally, I would blame it on Hitch's defensive system (see also: the average offensive vs defensive output of the '11-12 team), but since the team defense I'd associate with said system is notably absent, I don't have an answer for it.

1 week, 1 day ago on

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I know I went on record saying that the trade couldn't really be judged until the playoffs.  That's all it was made for.  That said, how fair that judgment is going to be, dependent upon the recovery of half of the NHL roster's worth of forwards, is a bit up in the air.  Of course, the Blues aren't the only team dealing with injuries going into the playoffs... see also their first round opponent, Chicago.


All that said, it seems painfully obvious, looking at the offensive numbers since Tarasenko went down, that what the team needs isn't an improvement in goal, or more grindy veterans (we can call those up in spades from the Wolves at will, apparently), but at least one more guy who can share the load of breaking the game open in a pinch.  Tough to say, but it's true - if you don't score at all, it doesn't matter if you can resurrect Dominik Hasek in his prime, it'll be done in the playoffs early and often.

1 week, 2 days ago on

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That's absurd.

1 week, 5 days ago on

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Polak's all well and good, but doesn't Hitch look actively angry?  Like the cameraman's not buying in, or something...

1 week, 6 days ago on

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@David Rogers Agreed.  That, and if Steen could recapture some of that lightning he had in a bottle for the first third or so of the season, that'd help, too.  He pretty much had to regress toward the mean, of course, but a little last-minute fire gearing up for the playoffs would certainly help.

I'm not usually one to press the panic button, either, though I can see how someone could argue I am, with what I just got done saying, but here's the thing:  I really wanted the Blues to have finally turned the corner on at least the scoring issue.  Certainly, it doesn't help but magnify the problem that it's occurring right after locking in a playoff spot, with the attendant, "We want more, we'll shoot for the Presidents Trophy, etc, etc" talk that followed on the heels of the Blues punching their ticket to the playoffs.

At the end of the day, I'm a fan, not a hockey lifer with direct contact with the game on a daily basis, but don't some of these things have to get fixed eventually?  I certainly won't even begin to claim to know how that's supposed to happen - Hitch has the Cup ring, not me.  But things as fundamental as stick discipline to reduce the stupid, momentum-killing penalties, and getting the puck on net, not over or around it...  There has to be a fix there, somewhere. 

Saw the Tweet from Lou Korac after the game saying the Blues had 29 SOG, 26 blocked, 25 just plain missed.  Even a quarter more of those on net is probably worth a goal through sheer volume, plus or minus one for a lucky bounce.  Credit the other guys for playing the game, of course, but you get the same net result by getting half the missed shots on net instead of a quarter of the shots from each pool.

2 weeks ago on

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I really tried to hold off on saying this after the weekend games, but I'm going to go ahead at this point, because I suppose I ought to be on the record, so I can hopefully eat some well-deserved crow down the line.


Since the Blues got over being awful because ownership decided to blow up the team two lockouts ago to try to make it more sellable, they've had these problems in at least some measure:


We don't have an elite game-breaker. -- Sure, we can argue that Boston's built on the same model, but by and large, it's working there, and there are times when it just isn't, here... especially when the playoffs roll around.


We don't convert at a high enough rate on rebound opportunities. -- It's just a feeling, but sometimes it feels like every team in the league outperforms the Blues at getting those in-close, dirty, second-and-third-chance goals.


In concert with the two previous items, we don't seem to have the guts, gumption, call it whatever you want, to actually stick to the game and swing a comeback out of it. -- The exception being the 2011-2012 squad, who actually seemed to get fired up to stay in games.  Where'd those guys go?  So many of them look like they're still on the bench and in the lineup here...


We don't have the extra gear/playoff gear. -- Part of this may be that the Blues play at higher than what one might call the average level normally.  Semi-playoff hockey, if you will.  And it beats a lot of teams in the regular season.  But when everybody else actually gears up and hits their playoff stride, the Blues continue struggling to match it.


We take too many penalties. -- Especially the idiotic, offensive-zone, power-play-destroying variety.  4min PP against the Caps tonight?  30-ish seconds in, Blues penalty, almost like clockwork.  I'd really hoped that this particular bugaboo had left on the plane with Perron to Edmonton, but sadly not.


And, while it's not something that I've been really cognizant of until the past year or so, we just can't hit the net when it counts. -- I usually listen to the radio feed, unless I'm out with friends (hooray, GCL blackout restrictions!), but I cringe every time Kerber calls yet another shot high or wide.  Sure, putting the puck straight into the goalie's chest isn't the most effective shot in the world, but at least it has the chance to bounce oddly, or slip through his arm/side gap, or land in the crease to be whacked at and maybe stuffed in.  The shots off the back boards and back glass, by and large, don't.


There are plenty of other things I could say, but these, to me, are the big, long-standing ones.  The ones that are really standing between the Blues and the promised land of deep playoff runs, and, God forbid, maybe even a Cup in my lifetime.


P.S.:  Can we bring back the defense that crafted 16 regular season shutouts and the Jennings Trophy from two seasons ago? If we're not planning to score much, we're gonna need it.

2 weeks ago on

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Oh, hockey, your oddities are so... odd.

2 weeks, 1 day ago on

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"Hey guys, I've got the Headless Horseman over here!"

2 weeks, 2 days ago on

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Still scary to think that the 99-00 team put together 51 wins without having the shootout.  Who knows what that win record might've looked like if they'd been allowed to break their 11 ties with the SO.

More interesting will be to see if they can actually chase down the President's Trophy like the 99-00 team did.  Certainly doesn't seem like Boston is going away, and Anaheim is still well within shouting distance.  Frankly, it looks a lot to me like it's Boston's to lose, given their remaining schedule.  Everyone's dangerous at this time of year, sure, but I'd sure feel better about the Blues chances to come out on top in points if they got to play Philly, Minnesota, Winnipeg, Buffalo, and New Jersey instead of Colorado, Chicago, Washington, Minnesota, Dallas, and Detroit.

2 weeks, 5 days ago on

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Now, if they can just capitalize on it in the playoffs...  Yeah, what can I say?  I'm starting to get just a bit picky in my old age.  heh

3 weeks ago on

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As much as the Wings used to be the hated rivals, I have to agree.  If Babcock can drag them, injured stars and all, into the playoffs, the award is his to lose, regardless of the fine performances of the other coaches mentioned.  I think the only coach even in shouting distance is Roy, turning the 29th-finishing Avalanche from last year into what is currently a top-five team.


As much as I love my Blues, this is what they were meant to be doing.  Similarly for Boston.


That would leave Tampa and Cooper as the dark horse.  28th to 10th is a fine turn-around in its own right, especially sans Stamkos for a substantial portion of the season.  Still, I don't know that it stands up to the Avalanche and Roy, and I'd still rank their transformation behind the Wings spit-and-baling-wire lineup sneaking into the playoffs.

3 weeks ago on

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This is the part of the year that I really curse the fact that I wound up having to move out of STL to find a new job.  Still worth driving in for at least a game, though.

3 weeks, 1 day ago on

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I'll admit, I got bored about ten seconds in, and shut it down for good at the thirty second mark.

3 weeks, 2 days ago on

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I recall saying right around the time of the trade that the only ways I could be okay with the price the Blues paid was 1) they win the Cup this year, 2) they sign Miller to a contract with some term to it, or better yet, 3) both.


That said, I recall even earlier in the season that there was plenty of speculation that California was where Miller wanted to wind up on his next contract.  Now, maybe it's worth giving credence to, and maybe it's not, but since the idea keeps cropping up, there might be at least a little substance there.

3 weeks, 2 days ago on

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@David Rogers One thing:  Post-change, and this may be an unrelated Livefyre change, reply notification e-mails now say Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com or PDL's URL instead of having the topic title in the notification.  Certainly not a deal-breaker by any stretch of the imagination, but it was helpful to know what was being replied to, particularly on the busier hockey news days.

3 weeks, 3 days ago on

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Given Buffalo's recent track record, is it okay if I don't really want to be Buffalo West?

3 weeks, 3 days ago on

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Oh, #hockeyporn, where would we be without you?

3 weeks, 3 days ago on

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Looking good.  Not unlike the change for PDL, I expect this will make it easier to read off my phone, too.

3 weeks, 3 days ago on

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Am I the only one amused by the fact that the last person to do this is named Butch Goring?

3 weeks, 4 days ago on

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Amen.

1 month ago on

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Still so much left for it to all work itself out points-wise, but man, Avs/'Hawks in the first round?  That could be crazy.  So could any other variation of that including the Blues in the mix, if it came to that.  And whichever of the Ducks and Sharks winds up having to face LA?  Too bad practically all of those games will be past my bedtime.


And then in the east, Pens/Bolts sure sounds like fun, but the Lightning have two games in hand on the Leafs at the moment, so they might just ruin everything, up to and including that Leafs/Habs matchup.


Anyway, it'll be interesting to see this compared to ten games out, and five games out, to see what actually winds up happening as some of these games in hand get played.

1 month ago on The NHL Playoff Picture with 3 weeks to go

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