Goaltending Continues to Carry St. Louis
Are the Blues really the best team in the NHL?
It may be a little too pre-mature to make that claim but according to the standings they are.
As we’ve been saying all along this club is getting it done with team defense and world class goaltending.
Is anyone else asking why Montreal would trade Jaroslav Halak? I fully understand the situation that existed there but how do you make that trade? I think Lars Eller will turn out to be a decent player but any suggestions of him being a star are slightly unrealistic. This has to go down as one of the more lopsided deals in recent trade history. The Blues are loaded with talented players under 25 years of age and the fact that Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier settled for only Eller and Ian Schultz looks worse and worse by the day. How do you trade this guy without getting a Perron, Oshie, or Pietrangelo in return? It’s very unlikely the Blues would have made that deal so would it have served the Canadiens better just to move on to another trade partner? I find it hard to believe this is the best deal Gauthier could have gotten. Let’s not pretend Halak became good overnight, they saw up close with their own eyes how good he is.
The Blues are a little reminiscent of what we saw last season from the Colorado Avalanche. They had a goaltender in Craig Anderson that played unbelievable hockey and a group of young energetic players who outworked the opponent just about every game. The Avalanche pretty much came out of nowhere and the Blues might be the biggest surprise this season. I think some people thought they’d be improved, but how many saw this coming?
Backup goaltender Ty Conklin got the job done Sunday in New York. This is the value of having a veteran backup who can maintain a high level of preparation without seeing much live action. Conklin hadn’t played since October 16th going into last night’s victory over the Rangers. Conklin is a pro and fully understands his role on this team, sure he’d like to play more but he knows he’s not the number one guy. I still think there will come a time this season when he'll be asked to carry this team for a short period of time.
Part of being hot is catching teams at the right time and that was the case in New York. The Rangers are playing without some serious firepower due to injuries and are basically a one line team right now. The Rangers really struggled getting out of their own zone Sunday night but a lot of that had to do with the Blues being in their face all night.
The Blues work on simple line rushes virtually every day in practice identical to what we saw on Alex Steen’s goal. The play was executed because of great recognition by D-man Nathan Oystrick who drove the middle lane and opened up a passing lane for Brad Boyes. Rangers goalie Martin Biron appeared to be screened on the play as Steen let go a perfect shot.
The Blues won 60% of their face-offs over the weekend including 70% Sunday against the Rangers.
David Backes won 10 of 11 as he continues to look more and more comfortable playing in the middle.
How could Oshie only be credited with two hits Saturday in Boston? I can think of at least three that made the highlight shows that night.
Backes recorded 11 hits in the two games combined.
What are the chances of D-man Nikita Nikitin sticking with the team for the rest of the season? He looks like an NHL’er to me as does Tyson Strachan who had a real strong weekend. Strachan would have had more success in his bout with Brandon Prust had the linesman gotten the sticks out of the way. Strachan ended up stepping on a stick and losing his balance.
Erik Johnson might have played his best game defensively Sunday night. He and Eric Brewer deserve some serious credit for the job they did on the PK especially in the third period killing off a five minute major.
On the flipside Alex Pietrangelo didn’t have his best game and his icetime was a reflection of that. This was the first time in six games Pietrangelo didn’t see 20:00 minutes of ice. He did take a puck off his hand Saturday night in Boston that caused some obvious pain.
Ian Cole impressed in seeing his first action in the NHL. From a physical standpoint he doesn’t get overmatched at this level.
Vadimir Sobotka is starting to get more and more comfortable as the games continue. He’s a pretty intelligent hockey player especially in the defensive zone as he anticipates plays very well. He obviously took his game to another level playing against his former team in Boston on Saturday. Sobotka won 13 out of 16 face-offs against Boston while scoring the only Blues regulation goal. We’re starting to see him use his body a little more as well. He leveled Bruins feisty forward Shawn Thornton Saturday night. Sobotka may be small but he has incredible leg strength.
The game between St. Louis and Boston was one of the more entertaining 1-1 games you’ll ever see.
How good does Andy McDonald look playing with Oshie and Backes?
Blues prospect Vladimir Tarasenko will not be representing Russia in the upcoming Karjala Cup in Finland . He was originally named to the team but Russia has elected not to bring him and save him for the World Junior Tourney late next month.
Word is Carlo Colaiacovo is feeling better and could return in time to play next this coming weekend when the team heads out west.
Let’s keep it real for a second…A few NHL analysts on the NHL network basically accused David Perron of embellishing his injury after being rocked by Joe Thornton. Let’s be honest here, how much of this has to do with Perron being French and the stereotype that comes with it? I’m just sayin.
He's been held out of the last two games with concussion like symptoms
The Blues PP ranks all the way down at #24. This can’t continue, who knew Colaiacovo was this important to the Blues PP success?
More to come,
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