Halak Set to Return From Hand Injury
Just because the Blues are out of the playoff hunt doesn’t mean some guys aren’t feeling pressure.
You have plenty of players fighting for contract extensions and roster spots next season. Some players like a Chris Porter are basically showcasing themselves for every team in the league and he wants nothing more than to land on an NHL roster next October.
You could easily argue these next 16 games mean more to Head Coach Davis Payne than any single player. Considering the Blues are basically playing with a pre-season roster, winning hockey games have become just a tad more difficult. With that being said GM Doug Armstrong at the very least wants to see effort and emotion.
The effort in Monday’s win over Columbus was much more acceptable than whatever it was we witnessed last week vs. Calgary and over the weekend against the Islanders.
Even if the coach isn’t to blame, nothing looks worse than a lack of effort. That’s just a fact of life, it’s always been like that and I don’t foresee a change anytime soon.
As we enter a potential Ownership change it’s extremely important for Payne to have these guys committed to playing hard as we finish out the season. Lack of effort can often be attributed to lack of confidence in the system. I'm not suggesting Payne is on the hot seat but getting consistent quality efforts are essential.
The fans continue to come out to watch this team perform and they deserve to be entertained.
If that means Chris Stewart waves his arms towards the crowd after dropping Derek Dorsett then so be it. Don’t be afraid to be loose and enjoy yourself out there. Matt D’Agostini did the same thing several weeks ago and it was addressed by Payne shortly thereafter.
The season obviously hasn’t gone as planned and fans are being forced to keep their head on a swivel before they get hit by one of the excuses that are being tossed around.
Look we know the Blues were hit hard by injuries and it impacted the season. You’d have to be foolish not to recognize the team has been devastated by injury. The same can be said for a number of teams who found a way to play through them. The circumstances surrounding the Blues financial struggles have been jut as devastating as it prevented Doug Armstrong from doing anything to stop the bleeding.
Even with the injuries the club was still in striking distance before struggling down the stretch.
Injuries need to be accepted as part of hockey not as excuses. The fans are starving for a winner as you have to go back nearly ten years since the organization last won a playoff series. There’s nothing wrong with telling the fans the organization didn’t accomplish what they set out to do and they will work hard this off-season to improve the team and correct whatever went wrong.
I thought the Blues put on a good show Monday night as they honored four of the best players in franchise history. President John Davidson introduced Joe Mullen, Garry Unger, Red Berenson, and Keith Tkachuk to the players before the game. Unger even gave the players a pep talk earlier in the day before the morning skate. What was his message? When in a slump go visit a children’s hospital. Sounds like good advice to me.
It would have been nice for the pre-game ceremony to take place on the ice as opposed to outside but apparently the NHL won’t allow on ice ceremonies after March first.
How good was Kenin Shattenkirk Monday night? His ability to read and identify plays before they happen is something you can’t teach. It was by far his best game since coming over from Colorado. He was the difference on the power play.
Barret Jackman was also very solid. He was tripped up pretty hard by Rick Nash early in the game which woke him up for the remainder of the night. This guy is at his best when he’s involved in some type of one on one confrontation. He knew it was Nash that tripped him up but he elected to go after Jakub Voracek anyway.
Jackman’s diving poke check on Nash in overtime was as nice of a play he’s made in a while.
Chris porter is a kid who seems to be figuring out how he needs to play at this level. He has a second gear and uses his speed well to pressure opposing D-men.
I don’t want to go overboard on Adam Cracknell but I’ve always liked his game. He has some skill and makes little plays that don’t show up on a stat sheet. He protects the puck well and knows how to use the boards. The guy is a solid callup who could have been better utilized this season in my opinion.
Ian Cole had a nice game but he can still learn to play under more control. That will come with more experience at this level. Sometimes less is more and its’ best to just get the puck up ice.
David Backes and Any McDonald have developed some nice chemistry this season. Sometimes your guess is as good as mine as to who they will play with but these two need to be kept together moving forward. McDonald has played some of the best hockey I’ve ever seen him play since returning from injury. He finished the game with seven shots on goal.
Look for Jaroslav Halak to get the start Wednesday in Columbus.
Ben Bishop has been re-assigned to Peoria. Good to see Bishop finish his stay up here on a positive note.
It was obvious Ty Conklin was in for a tough night from the very beginning. I’m just not sure starting the guy at home who was just placed on waivers was the right decision.
Patrik Berglund left the game with a lower body injury in the third period. He was having one of his better games of the season. Berglund has certainly turned it on since the All-Star break.
T.J. Oshie was involved all night as usual but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him get knocked around as often as he was Monday night.
BJ Crombeen did not play because of a shoulder injury.
The Blues power play looked good once again. Payne deserves some credit for making some necessary adjustments to the PP in recent weeks.
More to come,
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