As the team headed off for Columbus on Tuesday they left behind three of their top six D-men as well as forwards David Perron and Brad Winchester.
Winchester has a leg injury resulting from a fight with San Jose forward Jamal Mayers.
Perron will miss his third consecutive game tonight with a head injury that the Blues are treating like a concussion. The dynamic offensive player is still experiencing headaches when he raises his heart rate. Perron hasn’t skated since Saturday morning in Boston and will need to pass a baseline test before he can return. Usual protocol for players to return from head injuries are to first pass the baseline test, then go through a full workout without experiencing any headaches before being allowed to get back on the ice.
The controversy over the Joe Thornton hit on Perron has boiled over to the agents representing both players who have shared some words behind the scenes.
D-man Carlo Colaiacovo will miss his 5th straight game in Columbus with a head injury of his own but appears to be closer than Perron to returning. A source with the Blues tells me he has completed his baseline test which means, assuming he passed, he should be cleared to return to the ice sometime this week.
Expect the Blues to once again use seven D-men when the Blues take the ice Wednesday night in Columbus. Which means rookie D-men Nikita Nikitin and Ian Cole will play their third straight game.
As impressive as Nikitin has been he still has a ways to go conditioning wise. Word is the Russian native was obviously exhausted during the course of both games telling some teammates his legs felt dead just five seconds into his shift.
Ian Cole was obviously surprised when Peoria GM Kevin McDonald called him at 11:00 last Thursday night letting him know he was headed to the show. The Blues had already booked a 7:00 am flight from Milwaukee to Boston the next morning. Peoria was only staying in Milwaukee for one night so Cole had nothing but a backpack with him on the road. The first thing Cole did after checking into his hotel was go shopping for some clothes since he had nothing to get him through the next couple of days.
Cole is rooming on the road with T.J. Oshie.
Speaking of Oshie he is somewhat frustrated with the lack of goal production but realizes it would feel much worse if the team was losing. He’s happy to be back up top on the PP where he has an easier time finding holes and seeing the ice.
The Blues PP struggles have been beaten to death but I do find it interesting that some players tell me they are finally figuring out where they are suppose to be on the ice. It really shouldn’t be this confusing should it? This maybe gives a good indication why the Blues have looked so unorganized when on the PP. One player went as far as to call it a “disaster.”
In fairness I thought the Blues PP, from a structural standpoint, looked slightly better last weekend. There are still too many times, specifically with Erik Johnson, where the Blues pass up point shot opportunities.
Look for the Blues to try and slow things down a bit and try and take what’s given to them. Opposing PK units will continue to pressure the Blues PP until they prove they can handle it. Davis Payne spent a good chunk of practice Tuesday working on the PP. I can understand why they work on certain set plays but in reality these guys need to worry more about reading and executing the right play as opposed to memorizing a certain set play. If you watch most NHL PP’s how often do we see goals resulting from set plays? Not saying it doesn’t happen but there is too much skill for the Blues to have this much trouble.
I believe a team’s first PP unit should include the five best position players on the ice at the same time. I’m not sure this is the case with the Blues. Look for Pietrangelo, Oshie, Berglund, Steen, and Backes to man one unit while Nikitin, Johnson, McDonald, D’Agostini, and Boyes make up a second unit.
Part of the reason why Ty Conklin has enjoyed a successful NHL career is because of his ability to do what he did Sunday in New York. This guy is about as professional as they come which is why he never allows himself to get complacent. This isn’t the first time he’s played behind legitimate number one goalies having played with Dwayne Roloson, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Chris Osgood in the past. Conklin says he wants the coaching staff to know they don’t have to play Jaroslav Halak every night and he can come in and get the job done.
I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves here but Blues GM Doug Armstrong is in a good position considering the organizational depth in goal. There are three goalies he could potentially move before the year is up with Ben Bishop and Jake Allen joining Conklin. I’m not advocating trading any of these guys but it certainly gives Armstrong some pieces to play with.
Will the Halak trade be compared to the Brett Hull trade several years from now?
The AAA Amateur Blues had a nice showing at the prestigious International Nike/Bauer hockey tournament last weekend in Chicago.
The 1996’s coached by Al MacInnis lost in the semi-finals to the number one ranked Belle tire team out of Detroit.
1997’s coached by Keith Tkachuk and Jordan Janes lost in the semi-finals to the Toronto Marlies, the number one ranked team in Ontario.
Big congratulations to the 1998’s, also coached by Tkachuk, who won the tournament finishing in first place.
The 1999’s coached by Dave Wilson reached the quarterfinals
Former Blues Scouting Director Jarmo Kekalainen took in the Blues victory over the Rangers last Sunday after running in the New York city marathon. Former Blue Basil McRae also ran in the marathon. Jarmo finished with a time of 3:02 but was on pace to finish under three hours after the first 20 miles. McRae finished in 3;34.
The Philadelphia Phantoms are still trying to move St. Louis native Pat Maroon who was recently dismissed from the team. One possibility Flyers GM Paul Holmgren is exploring is loaning Maroon to another AHL team. Teams are looking to give a contract back in return but Philly isn’t interested in taking back any contracts.
More to come,
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