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@David Rogers Sooner or later, the team is going to have to overcome the adversity, though.  Or fail to do so, one of the two.  Which is also why I don't get too worried about the ups and downs of the regular season.

I did go back and have a look at the record of a couple of Hitch's Dallas teams (98 and the Cup year in 99), and in both cases, they had some pretty clear stretches of .500-at-best hockey late in the season.  So it isn't as though he hasn't driven a team deep into the playoffs after going through stretches where his team, being better than most of their opponents on paper, didn't play like it on the ice.  Add in the fact that I'd rather see them figure out how to fix it now, rather than when crunch-time really hits, and we'll have to see.

All that said, I thought some of the player comments in the blog that Lou Korac posted earlier were a bit telling:  http://lkorac10.blogspot.com/2015/02/struggling-blues-hit-road-for-tough.html  Certainly, there's nothing there that isn't fairly standard hockey player quote boilerplate, but if Hitch really is "losing the room", as I've seen suggested by a few folks on Twitter and elsewhere, I would've expected some of that to show through here.

Particularly, I think the quote from Jackman sums it up:  "I think it's just collectively all being on the same page in our game," Jackman said. "We have a system that works, that's been proven in the past to work..." (quote continues) 

Maybe it's wishful thinking on my part, but that at least sounds fixable with time, concentration, and effort to me.  Comparatively, I'm still a lot more worried about our D getting pushed around (again).  Puck-moving is all well and good, until the forechecker is on you before said puck-moving happens, and it seems like teams like the Kings and Hawks (and Rangers and Canadiens, to draw a couple of Eastern examples) are quite happy to exploit it.

4 days, 1 hour ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/hitchcock-says-blues-arent-following-directions.html

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@David Rogers That's a tough question to answer, because it hinges on so many things.

First and foremost:  If the Blues have another relatively early exit, does Hitch *want* to come back?

Second:  In what manner do the Blues go out?  If they get swept out of the first or second round four straight games, I'd have to think the answer is Hitch goes, especially if it's not, say a second round Blues/Kings matchup (and how that happens... wildcard/cross-division oddities?), with the Blues short major injured pieces from a first round matchup with the Hawks (which is looking more and more likely by the day).

Third:  Playing off of the above, what happens if the Blues go farther (WCF), and wind up losing to some team that isn't CHI or LA (again, some wildcard oddity where the Hawks slip and end up playing in the Pacific for the first two rounds now that they've lost Kane for at least the balance of the regular season)?  Personally, I'd be happy if the team made it this far.  I'd be a lot happier seeing the Blues in a Cup Finals, of course, but we don't call it the hardest postseason in professional sports for nothing.  Being one of the last four teams standing is no small feat, especially coming out of the West.  Whether that means that Hitch's job would be safe if he wants it for next year, I'd personally say yes.  Of course, I'm not President of Hockey Ops, or the guy holding the purse strings...

So much of this is contingent on health, for one thing.  See last year, for example.  Maybe we can blame that on Hitch's desire to chase the President's Trophy, and maybe we can't, but the team definitely wound up heading into the postseason more banged up than anyone really would've liked.

Personally, and this will go back to the hiring of Mullen, what I thought, and still kind of think the Blues could've done (and maybe still should do) is bring in a Martz-like offensive genius to balance out Hitchcock's Vermeil-ish defensive proclivities.  Sure, it's not a perfect example, since football doesn't really transition defense to offense like hockey does, but some kind of meshing of a more open offensive style which we saw flashes of when the STL line was really clicking earlier in the year, while maintaining the neutral zone and defensive zone tightness that characterizes Hitch's teams with the increase in available talent would've made a lot of sense, as well as some really fun-to-watch hockey.


Hitch even seems to realize this himself, if you look back on some of his comments about how he wound up with three different "styles" of lines, with STL playing more of the Euro-style E-W game, SOB playing the N-S crashing game, and XSB (Now JBS, at least, for the moment) playing the board cycle game.  At this point, I'm not certain that Hitch is someone who can really draw out those different strengths (and thus create even more match-up difficulties for opponents).  Needless to say, I'd want to see this without going out the other side and sacrificing all defensive consistency in an Oilers-like manner in a vain hope that games will be won 7-6.  All of which is certainly a tall order, and I couldn't even begin to guess at a slate of names who could pull it off, outside of guys who obviously already have head coaching jobs for as long as they want them (Babcock, Quenneville).


Anyway, that's way off down the bunny trail from where the question started.  heheh  As a question in return, do you think there's really a way for the Blues, playing Hitchcock's system or otherwise, to get through the regular season without having to go nearly all-out for the wins that they get?  In other words, is it a system thing, where the system only works at that intensity level, or is it a team thing, where the team doesn't have the ability to just skate by on some of the "easier" opponents... or is it even a league thing, where even those "easier" opponents still require nearly the full effort to take points from?

4 days, 3 hours ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/hitchcock-says-blues-arent-following-directions.html

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The Blues have actually had something of a tendency do this at times for the past few years.

For example, last year had an inconsistent stretch starting with a 2-1 loss to the (awful Torts-coached) Canucks on January 10th.  They proceeded to squeak out a 2-1 win over the Coyotes at home before dropping home games to the Kings (4-1) and Ducks (3-2).  A road win over the Red Wings (4-1) was then followed with a 7-1 shellacking by the Blue Ja... err... Devils.  The remaining eight games before the Olympic break featured a 6-2 record, the losses being to Ottawa and Carolina, while three of the victories came in the shootout (@NYI, vs Rinne-less NSH, and vs WPG), and one came in OT (vs BOS).


Meanwhile, it's hard to forget the lockout-shortened season that Jake Allen had to come in and wake the team up when both Halak and Elliott struggled, compounded by Halak's lower-body injury.  The Blues had struggled since the start of February (Allen was called up for the game on the 13th), having lost to DET, NSH, DET (again), ANA, and LAK.  Starting the month 0-5, they ended it 4-8, and went on to split March 7-7, before finally settling back into Blues Hockey reeling off 12 wins in the last 15 games over the month of April.


And, for completeness' sake, going back to 2011-12 (a.k.a. the year Hitch arrived), the Blues skidded through the latter half of March. Starting with a shootout loss to the Hawks on the 13th, the Blues lost eight of the final twelve games of their season, which didn't cost them as much as it might have only because of their meteoric January and February records that year (8-3, 11-4).


We can't really go back further in a meaningful manner, because we run into the rebuilding and questionable coaching years following the 04 lockout.  Essentially, since Hitch was brought in and the Blues started playing winning hockey again, they've been good for at least one really frustrating skid a season, including the first season with Hitch as bench boss, which should certainly preclude the cries of "tuned out the coach", at least for that year.


Now, I don't know that we can go so far as to say that this is a coaching problem or a players problem, but it's clearly been a recurring problem in the Hitchcock era.

4 days, 21 hours ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/hitchcock-says-blues-arent-following-directions.html

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The Dallas media might want to take a look at the team being iced in front of Lehtonen, as you described.  The fact that they're running an entirely top-heavy first line, without a great deal of follow-on depth, plus the defensive system allowing the opponents shots (relatively) hand-over-fist, are a couple of really obvious culprits here.  Of course, as a Blues fan, I'm long familiar with the "blame the goalie" refrain.  And, of course, just like in St. Louis, it's reasonable to look at the rest of the team and their play when the goaltending "struggles" - see also how the Blues goaltending looked when they turned the defensive responsibility off for a few games.

3 weeks, 2 days ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/

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@David Rogers

 Seems like the Blues have had a lot of chippy games against the East here lately.  Ottawa, Washington, Tampa all come to mind.

And yeah, Stamkos is a ton of fun to watch.  A couple years ago, my brother asked why I was watching a non-Blues hockey game, and I said, "I'm watching Brett Hull, Jr."  Of course, then I had to explain that he isn't *really* Hull's kid, but with that nose for the net, he may as well be.

3 weeks, 2 days ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/infographic-t-j-oshie-before-and-after-oshie-os.html

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@David Rogers Maybe if goalies suddenly regressed both in tactics and equipment to circa 1980.  Though, for that, rather than a cereal, I think you'd need a shrink ray.

Also, somewhat related, how about Stamkos trying to get feisty with Backes last night?  The linesmen very much saved him from himself there, I'd think.  Otherwise, the story today would be "Backes punches Jonathan Toew... err... Steven Stamkos so hard that he pukes in the penalty box."

3 weeks, 3 days ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/infographic-t-j-oshie-before-and-after-oshie-os.html

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Unsustainable! ... Sorry, my inner hockey analytics geek got out for a second there.  Really, though, it's an amusing story, and a well-constructed graphic.  Now, if they can just go ahead and admit that they also shipped cartons to Steen and Backes, since they caught fire at pretty much the exact same time...

3 weeks, 4 days ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/infographic-t-j-oshie-before-and-after-oshie-os.html

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According to his post-game comments, he lost it in the empty seats.  Which, frankly, sounds terrible, if plausible.  Still, in such a situation, shouldn't a goaltender at least cover the base of the net... and, preferably, hug the post on the side the dump-in was taken from?


I guess the saying is true, good teams find a way to win, even when they haven't brought their A game.  This was definitely a game that could've gotten away at a few points, though, and this was one of them.

4 weeks, 1 day ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/video-jake-allen-is-lost-in-his-thoughts-almost-lets-in-an-embarrassing-goal.html

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The last Blues game I attended with my father, just before the All-Star Break, I actually brought this up.  I'm well and truly on the side that wants to revert to teams wearing their white jerseys at home.  When he asked why, I said, "Because this way, it's always just Team Blue (or insert your home team's color of choice) versus Team White.  Maybe the color of their shoulders changes, but that's about it."

1 month ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2015-articles/gary-bettman-discusses-teams-wearing-white-home-dark-colors-road.html

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I'll admit, I chuckled, if only because one can't turn on the TV, radio, internet news sites, Twitter... or basically go anywhere I go without stumbling across eleventy-billion references to the football "scandal".  When even my non-sports-inclined friends know about it, you know it's omnipresent.


So yeah, go Hull&Co.  At least this take on it is funny.

1 month ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/hull-tarasenko-and-chase-mock-deflate-gate-in-mcbride-homes-ad.html

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Borrowing from LeftWingLock.com, "(Additionally,) the post-lockout league average for PKSV% is .875 annually with little variance." Allen is sporting a PK sv% of .856, and Elliott a .851.


The Blues have been shorthanded 154 times so far this season (16th in the league), but, as you stated, are down to 81% and change on the PK (17th).  Some of this can be explained away with the sub-par PK sv%, as Elliott would have saved 1-2 more shots playing at average (64.75 saves/74 shots, compared to his current 63 saves), and Allen's totals would increase by about the same.  Of course, it's impossible to explain away entirely in this way, as goals cut non-major penalty powerplays short, so it could just mildly inflate their individual statistics without significantly improving the team's fate.  Plus, they're not so wildly under the average that we should necessarily expect a huge correction toward (or past) the mean.


Meanwhile, of course, the eye test would say that some nights (and for some stretches) the Blues simply didn't have the will/gumption/work ethic to play the penalty kill system in the manner required to achieve prior years better results.  Since the expectation is to give up a bit over one goal per ten shots against on the PK, it's fairly obvious what happens when the Blues play well in that particular area - shots against are low.  This may explain part of the low PK sv% - when they play the system correctly, shots against aren't generally made lower-percentage, but are eliminated entirely in a lot of cases.  The Toronto game was a prime example of this.


All that said, I think the Blues PK will rise and fall primarily on the backs of the skaters, rather than the goaltending.  If they keep playing at the level they have recently, the PK% for the year will probably end up near years past.  If they decide to take a few more breaks from the proper structure of the PK, it'll remain "off".

1 month, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/blues-have-weakened-defensively-but-only-slightly.html

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Those are every bit as hideous as they were without anyone in them.

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/the-locker/photo-patrick-kane-jonathan-toews-show-ugly-star-uniforms.html

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One of the things that I love about hockey, when you get past the sport itself, is the stories like this that come out of it.  As a Blues fan, sure, I hear more about the Blues community efforts, but things like this, or the P.K. Subban event that happened around Christmas are the rule for hockey orgs, it seems, rather than the exception.


Well done, Chicago.  Well done, indeed.

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2015-articles/blackhawks-make-dream-come-true-young-blind-fan.html

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I'm convinced that Brian Elliott has been perpetually underrated by Blues fans, and I'm not entirely sure why, aside from the one obvious fact that it took management a few years to realize just how good he is.  Certainly, he had some difficulty establishing himself in Ottawa and Colorado.  His 2009-10 season in Ottawa was solid, if not really inspiring (2.57GAA/.909sv%), and the 2010-11 season that he split between Ottawa and Colorado was downright forgettable (3.19/.894 in Ottawa, and 3.83/.891 in Colorado).  However, what he's done after that, starting in his age 26 season in St. Louis, has been, if not elite, very, very good:


2011-12:  1.56GAA/.940sv% (Jennings w/ Halak)

2012-13:  2.28GAA/.907sv% (lockout-shortened season)

2013-14:  1.96GAA/.922sv%

2014-15:  1.81GAA/.933sv% (to date)


A few comparisons, just for fun:

2011-12

Goalie A:  2.05/.929

Goalie B:  1.95/.929

Goalie C:  2.39/.923

Goalie D:  1.97/.930


2012-13

Goalie A:  2.00/.929

Goalie B:  2.45/.902

Goalie C:  2.43/.910

Goalie D:  2.05/.926

2013-14

Goalie A:  2.04/.930

Goalie B:  2.07/.915

Goalie C:  2.77/.902

Goalie D:  2.36/.920

2014-15

Goalie A:  2.47/.914

Goalie B:  2.40/.915

Goalie C:  2.00/.929

Goalie D:  2.30/.916

And who are these reasonably comparable statistical comparisons to Brian Elliott over the last three seasons and the current half-season?  In order of appearance, A:  Tuukka Rask, B:  Jonathan Quick, C:  Pekka Rinne, and D:  Henrik Lundqvist.  And the Blues are seriously getting away with an AAV contract of 2.5m through the 2016-17 season for this guy?  heh  Doug Armstrong, Highway Robbery Expert.

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/brian-elliott-had-an-outstanding-first-half-of-2014-15.html

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I've been awaiting this impatiently since the league first began discussing it, and I certainly can't imagine the PA shooting it down.

1 month, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2015-articles/nhl-will-place-player-tracking-chips-uniforms-star-game.html

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When I saw the replay at full speed, I thought it was just trying to throw it into the middle and hoping for the best, and it happened to bank off of the Sharks player's skate (89) as he cut left.  Slowed down, though, it's obvious Schwartz did exactly what he meant to do, and the only thing that hit the Sharks skate was his stick.  Such a crazy pass.

1 month, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2015/gif-crazy-pass-from-jaden-schwartz.html

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I'm going to play off of Derek's idea here.  Instead of the winner of the Winter Classic gets the next one, how about the Winter Classic is a rematch of the previous year's Cup Finals, and winner gets home venue (such as it is when we're holding these things in baseball and football stadiums).


Sure the team composition might be different than it was for the Cup run, but the same can be said for whoever won the Classic the previous year, or any number of other variants on that theme.  It meets the test of rivalry, since the teams met to determine the grand prize in the sport.  Plus, it could wind up with some really unlikely results (unlike the current Blackhawks vs. Eastern Team X format):  Anybody remember 2006?  Sure, it'd be hard to consider Hurricanes/Oilers a draw right now, but coming off of a seven game, back-and-forth Stanley Cup Final?


Alternatively, and likely a bit more boring from the anticipatory drama aspect, would be to just swap it back and forth between the conferences (or even the divisions) from year to year, and have some combination of the division winners face off, or the top two in each division (for the divisional format), or the two teams that played in the previous year's conference finals.


Beyond that, go ahead and cut the Stadium Series games out of the mix, at least if the Winter Classic is supposed to be a big TV/ratings draw.  And let the Canadian teams hold a Heritage Classic if they're of a mind to, since they've only been doing it every 2-3 years, and the U.S. market, outside of die-hard hockey fans, is a bit different for this one - They're certainly not in danger of saturating the market with it.


I'll admit I'm not really qualified to speak to the whole musical sideshow aspect of things.  They could certainly do away with it, for all I'd care.  Or change it.  Or leave it alone.  "I went to a hockey game, and a live stage show broke out!" - said no one, ever.

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

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I'll openly admit, I'm one of the ones who immediately mocked this idea.  Looking back on it, with some of my comments about Reaves and his occasional flashes of power forward play on the 4th line, I might have actually seen this coming.  So, with my crow officially eaten, this particular Hitch experiment has worked out surprisingly well, and I'd like to see it continue.


Which, incidentally, is probably exactly why it won't.  As soon as I like a line, it seems like Hitch decides to tinker with it.  heh  Except the STL line, which he admitted even he wasn't dumb enough to break up.

1 month, 4 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/ryan-reaves-on-the-third-line-has-been-a-positive-experiment.html

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Watch him be the Kings deadline acquisition this year as they head for the Cup (again).

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

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I can't say that I'm against this move.  The Perron deal, even at the time, was clearly a cap/salary-clearing move.  The fact that Barbashev might grow into a useful player some day doesn't change that fact, but it just might make the deal more palatable in the long run.


Meanwhile, I agree with Hitch's assessment, or at least the implications of it.  Porter brings better speed and energy, and can be an effective fourth-liner when everybody's healthy.  Paajarvi can't.  Jaskin, meanwhile, has shown superior space-creating ability and power forward-like drive, thus slotting in better in a top-9 role, and maybe even beginning to solve the "Stastny's Wingers" problem.


The interesting speculation would be, who might actually pick up Paajarvi from waivers?  I'm not sure who's actually short a third line winger at the moment.  Maybe Dallas, with how top-heavy their scoring has been this year?

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

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Another grievance:  The Blues starting their Christmas Break before I do... and before the NHL schedule does.


Last game before the NHL Christmas Break:

2014 - 5-0L         @COL 

2013 - 4-3L(SO)  @CGY

2012 - No Game, Lockout

2011 - 3-2W         @PHX

2010 - 4-3W         vsDET

2009 - 2-1W(SO) @CGY

2008 - 4-1L          @DET

2007 - 3-2L(OT)   vsATL

2006 - 3-2W(OT)  vsBUF

2005 - 2-1W(SO)  @SJ

2004 - No Game, Lockout

2003 - 3-0L           @CHI


Which reminds me...


Two Lockouts In Less Than A Decade

Seriously, who does this?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bettman?

2 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/airing-of-grievances-st-louis-blues-edition.html

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I'll start with a recent grievance and go from there.


9:30 PM Start Times

I'm probably the last person to say, "Hey, let's all play hockey while the sun's out!", but really?  I get the weeknight games, for all that it stinks, since they do kind of have to start when people can make it to the arena (and thus are willing to pay for tickets), but weekend games?  I'm willing to lay aside my normal enmity for sun hockey in favor of getting to sleep before the sun comes back up.


Steve Ott

Yes, I know, he finally scored a goal as a Blue.  Yes, I know he only came back because Sobotka bolted.  But really, couldn't Armstrong have picked... anyone else?  Somewhere along the line, I learned to not totally loathe Lapierre, but I was really ready for the Ott Era with the Blues to be done after last season.  And yet, it's still going on.


California Teams in California

Why do the Blues come out lacklustre against them time and again?  It has to be more than having to change lines first, but whatever it is, it drives me nuts, especially when combined with my first complaint.


National Games

Or, more specifically, Pierre McGuire.  Don't think I really have to say more.  No, wait, yes, I do.  Alex Peter-Angelou.  Petro-Angelo.  ...  I can accept a wrong pronunciation.  I may not like it, but I can accept it.  I can't accept a professional broadcast crew who all have their OWN DIFFERENT wrong pronunciations.


Chelsea Dagger

I have some kind of a Pavlovian/Stockholm Syndrome reaction to this song now.  I hate it, it means horrible things have happened, and yet, I can't help but sing along.


Columbus Blue Jackets Injuries

Never really hated these guys, even when they were division opponents.  Now that they're in the other conference, I even find myself desiring that they do well.  And this year they've been derailed from anything resembling contention, or even consistency, by having their roster obliterated by the injury bug.


Mumps

I don't care who started it.  Everybody end it.  Now.


Blues PR and Fan Relations

I know not everybody can troll with the confidence of the Kings twitter, but can we have something other than sheer boredom?  See also: OrganGate, OrganistGate, PreseasonFoodGate... the list goes on.


Outdoor Games

Can we have somebody other than Chicago and the Eastern Conference Band, please?


Brad Boyes

I'm convinced his ghost still lingers in the Blues dressing room, whispering in the ears of the players, "The best shot is high and wide.  The best shot is high and wide.  The best sound is the puck hitting glass."

2 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/airing-of-grievances-st-louis-blues-edition.html

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

2 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/a-brian-elliott-trade-would-be-foolish.html

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

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

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


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


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

2 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2014-articles/should-the-nhl-expand-in-las-vegas.html

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

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

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

2 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/blues-are-still-struggling-to-close-games-out.html

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

2 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/blues-are-still-struggling-to-close-games-out.html

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

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



2 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/2014-articles/report-blues-considering-trading-patrik-berglund-and-brian-elliott.html

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

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

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

 

2 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/brodeur-loses-in-debut-teams-problems-more-evident-than-ever.html

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


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


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

2 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/brodeur-loses-in-debut-teams-problems-more-evident-than-ever.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

3 months, 2 weeks 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.

3 months, 2 weeks 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

3 months, 2 weeks 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.

3 months, 3 weeks 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.

3 months, 3 weeks 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.

3 months, 3 weeks 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.

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

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

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

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


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


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

3 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://frozennotes.com/2014/tarasenkos-heroics-masking-blues-troubles-on-offense.html

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

3 months, 4 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/puckdrunklove/

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


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

4 months 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.

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

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