Elliott Shines...Plus Blues Clues!
The rollercoaster continues with the St. Louis Blues. After losing three straight the Blues have rolled off four consecutive wins including a thrilling 1-0 shutout in Detroit on Sunday. Brian Elliott continues to be a story with the Blues. Has he rediscovered his confidence? Certainly looked like it in his last two games.
Up next the Nashville Predators who have played more games than any other team in the West, yet sit five points out of the playoffs.
Slowly but surely the playoff picture is becoming clearer as teams begin to separate from one another.
Porter Can Now Relax…
Chris Porter has three points in three games since agreeing to a two-year contract extension. This includes the game winner he scored on Sunday.
His contract came together pretty quickly as GM Doug Armstrong met with his agent in Chicago the evening of the trade deadline.
It’s a new world for Porter who had never signed a one-way deal in the NHL before. He can now settle in as an NHL player and not worry about the consequences of making a mistake. People don’t always think about the difficulties of playing with a two-way contract. This often forces players to play overly cautious knowing a mistake can result in a demotion to the AHL at any time. That fear of not wanting to be sent down can impact the way an individual plays.
Now with the security of a multi-year, one-way contract in his pocket he can just focus on playing.
With the uncertain future of Jamie Langenbrunner and Scott Nichol, signing Porter made sense for the Blues. Porter had other options in free agency and it’s good to see the Blues not only reward Porter, but stick to their word.
I do think there’s another level Porter can reach. He tends to play at one speed and at times chases the play. He plays hard and keeps himself in great condition but with his new contract brings more expectations.
It leads to you to wonder if Adam Cracknell will ever find himself in a similar situation.
As we reported last Wednesday prospect Dmitrij Jaskin will be seeing NHL games with the Blues this season. He could report as soon as today once all his immigration paperwork is finalized.
Jaskin could make an impact on the Blues under the right circumstance. He plays a North American game and adds size and playmaking ability to the roster. We’ve seen other players make NHL debuts this season out of the QMJHL including first round picks Mikhail Grigorenko and Stefan Matteau. NHL scouts believe Jaskin is every bit suited for the NHL game as these two.
Ken Hitchcock will make the decision as to whether he feels Jaskin makes the Blues better.
It’s been a tough go for former first round pick Ian Cole who has played only two games since February 28th. The Blues gave serious thought to sending him back to Peoria several days ago but a flu bug to Alex Pietrangelo saved Cole from going down.
With the addition of Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold it’s going to be tough for Cole to crack the lineup on defense. Not to mention Kris Russell is there as well. As we mentioned last week, Hitchcock will consider using Cole at forward if necessary just as he did with Russell against the Red Wings. Andy McDonald’s illness led to Russell being inserted.
Cole and the Blues had discussions about trading the Notre Dame product and it’s safe to say he would have accepted a change of scenery. The Blues elected to keep him and I’m not sure how big the market was for the 24 year-old with just 67 career games on his resume. The Blues have not given up on Cole and don’t be surprised if St. Louis re-sign him in the not too distant future.
AAA Blues make St. Louis Proud!
What an incredible journey for the U-18 AAA Blues who lost 4-3 in overtime to the Neponset Valley River Rats (Massachusetts) in the National Championship game over the weekend in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
An amazing group of kids made St. Louis proud and should be recognized for their accomplishment. The Blues had a 3-2 lead only to see the scored tied with eight seconds left in regulation.
Questionable officiating by USA hockey led to a number of marginal penalties throughout the game. The Blues faced two 5-on-3 penalty kills in the first period along with a neutral zone penalty with less than 1:30 to play in the third. This gave Neponset Valley a six on four advantage including the extra attacker.
After going 6-0, including a 2-1 OT victory over Detroit’s Honeybaked in the semi-finals, the Blues fell in the National Championship game 4-3 in OT.
The team is made up of 100% St. Louis players and face the top competition in the country.
This experience will only push these kids as they move forward in their hockey careers. Having your heart ripped out in a game of this magnitude will stick with them forever, but will also make them better.
The team is led by Head Coach Scott Sanderson, assistants Anthony Capelletti and some guy who runs an NHL site called Truehockey.com.
Nearly every St. Louis kid playing NHL, NCAA, and Major Junior hockey was developed in the AAA Blues organization.
It was great to have St. Louis native and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Joe Vitale visit the team before they took the ice.
Penguins GM Ray Shero and Capitals GM George McPhee had kids participating in the tournament. Both are first class people.
Former 4th round pick Yannick Veilleux has two goals in his first two games with the Peoria Rivermen.
Former 4th rounders Nick Walters and Jani Hakanpaa have also performed well with the Rivermen. Hakanpaa has three assists in eight games.
In addition to Ty Rattie and Jaskin, the Blues informed teams D-man Joel Edmundson was unavailable for trade discussion.
Edmundson is thriving with Kamloops in the WHL even seeing some PP time. He doesn’t project to be a PP guy in the NHL but certainly adds an element of toughness.
Rattie is among the WHL playoff scoring leaders with 15 points in eight games.
Goaltender Jordan Binnington has a .938 save% thus far in the OHL playoffs with Owen Sound. He was tremendous last night in a Game 1 victory over Plymouth turning away 36 of 37 shots.
Four St. Louis kids were selected over the weekend in the OHL draft. Matthew Tkachuk (london), Jake Henderson (Kitchener), goaltender Luke Opilka (Kitchener), and Luke Kunin (Sarnia).
All four players made the U.S.A. National Team Development Program with Tkachuk, Opilka, and Kunin signing. Henderson elected to sign with Omaha in the USHL.
Green Bay Gamblers forward Kyle Novak has agreed to attend the Anaheim Ducks prospect camp this summer. He will play under Andy Murray next season at Western Michigan. He played his Midget hockey with the St. Louis AAA Blues.
Rylan Schwartz, brother of Blues forward Jaden, has signed a contract with San Jose. He attended the Sharks prospect camp last summer.
More to come,
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