Blues and Leafs On Each Other's Radar?
I won’t go as far as to call the Blues 3-0 loss to Chicago a disaster but it goes down as one of the more disappointing in recent memory.
When you score three goals in four games, including two shutouts, it’s hard to win in this league.
The Blues get a lot of attention for leading the league in shots against which allows one to ask if they’re sacrificing offense as a result? The Blues have capable offensive players and there’s little excuse to struggle scoring the way they have. It’s hard to have it both ways. Few teams have the ability to play defensive and offensive at the same time.
While the Blues are limiting shots against they’re getting out-chanced which again makes it tough to win.
Offensively they’re lacking a little identity. They look more like three 2nd lines and one 4th line. When the Blues are at their best they play with tenacity and they’re in the opponent’s grill for 60 minutes. Suddenly they lack physicality, grit, and toughness which couldn’t have been more noticeable against the Blackhawks.
Can’t have every line playing the same way.
How Ryan Reaves doesn’t fight or at least provide a physical presence last night is a head scratcher. Same can be said for Ian Cole who continued to play against Jonathan Toews after being scored on 12 seconds in.
Not to pick on these two as outside of David Backes and maybe T.J. Oshie there were few positives to draw from.
It’s very rare to see a Blues team go down against Chicago as quietly as they did last night, at home no less.
Schwartz gets Promoted…
I’m really interested to see how well Jaden Schwartz plays alongside T.J. Oshie and David Backes. He hasn’t been given this chance all season and personally I feel he can help this team in the offensive end.
One thing Schwartz has is sense. You can argue he has better hockey sense than Vladimir Tarasenko who’s been given more opportunity than Schwartz this season.
Tarasenko, who remains sidelined with an injury, has a chance to be a special player but when healthy we’ve seen his game fluctuate up and down.
Blues and Toronto talking Trade?
Sources out of Toronto have the Blues and Maple Leafs on each other’s radar. One player whose name continues to pop up, not just with St. Louis, is forward Nikolai Kulemin.
A former 30 goal scorer, Kulemin is playing a different role with Toronto and could maybe use a change of scenery. The 26 year-old Russian has just 12 points this season but has been used primarily in a defensive/PK role. He’s seen limited PP action.
He put up 38 points in 36 KHL games this season. Kulemin is a childhood friend of Pittsburgh superstar Evgeni Malkin as the two played together before coming over to the NHL.
Toronto could be interested in a young player which may include former first round picks Schwartz and/or D-man Ian Cole.
The Blues would certainly need a D-man in return if they were to move Cole. Toronto has a surplus with nine D-men having played at least two games this season. One would think they’d like to create a spot for Jake Gardiner. Jake’s brother Max is a former Blues draft pick.
Kulemin signed a two-year extension last summer worth $5.6 Million. He has a cap hit of $2.8 and is due $3 Million next year.
It would take more in return than Kulemin if they were to move a Jaden Schwartz.
O’reilly Stays in Colorado…
So after all the drama Ryan O’Reilly stays in Colorado. Including his signing bonus he’ll take home about $2.9 million in about 30 games this season.
The deal is basically for $6.5 million times two. Throw out this year, next season he’ll make $6.5 which will be his qualifying number before the 2014-2015 seaosn.
Not a bad deal if you can get it.
Is the NHL guaranteeing the NHLPA two more expansion teams in the near future? How else can you explain the proposed realignment? With 16 in one conference and 14 in the other it doesn’t work according to multiple PA sources. Players in the East may have less travel but they’ll also have a smaller percentage of making the playoffs.
How will Columbus ever make the playoffs playing in that division? Division includes the Rangers, Philly, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, and the Islanders, Washington, and Carolina. They very well may have to stay put in the Western Conference.
Kevin Shattenkirk is now the Blues NHLPA rep, replacing David Backes. Shattenkirk needed 160 NHL games and came into this season with 153. Backes remains involved and still serves on the NHL competition committee.
Adam Cracknell enters the lineup tonight as Andrew Murray sits.
Wade Redden also makes an appearance after sitting the last three games. He’ll replace Ian Cole.
How much money could Chris Stewart make if he used his body and became more of a physical force? If he fought every six games or so he’d command a ton of respect around the league.
Former second rounder Phil McRae has started skating in Peoria as he tries to make a return from a back injury.
Tonight is pink at the rink night as the Blues and the NHL fight cancer.
Did Al Macinnis and Chris Pronger get credited with a minus on Chicago's first goal last night? I'm not sure either guy had left the ice following the pre-game ceremony.
Anyone notice Pronger and Joel Quenneville make eye contact as Pronger walked off? These two obviously have a lot of respect for one another.
More to come,
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