State of the Blues....Will Armstrong Tweak Roster?
For the first time this season the proverbial panic button has been set off. That typically comes with losing four consecutive home games by a combined score of 21-8.
Look I’m not ready to point fingers, anybody who has been around hockey or ever been part of a team understands it’s not one individual or coach. It’s everybody and when you fail to meet expectations everyone shares some level of the blame.
Who will be the guy or line to settle things down for this hockey club?
It is what it is. When you don’t get saves, play loose defensively, and fail to score 5-on-5 you’re going to lose your share of games.
It’s great having a strong power play but if you rely on it to carry you offensively you’ll make things difficult for yourself in a hurry. So far this season the Blues are a minus-6 during 5-on-5 play heading into Wednesday’s game with Detroit.
With the lockout and no pre-season and virtually no training camp this will be a season unlike any other. Fans and media alike are going to have deal with the ups and downs that come with it. It’s important everyone controls their emotions, especially the players as they cruise through this schedule.
Teams who handle adversity the best will give themselves the best opportunity to have success.
It’s up to the coaching staff and the core of this roster to create as positive of an environment as possible. You can’t dissect every little detail with negativity as it only leads to things spiraling out of control.
The last thing the Blues should be doing is showing their frustration. When guys are calling out teammates or slamming their stick on the bench it leads to even bigger problems.
This is where not having Jamie Langenbrunner will be missed the most. He was Hitchcock’s guy when things got off track as he was used to get the message sent to the team the fastest. He understands Hitchcock and more importantly understands how to win.
Hitchcock tells me Scott Nichol is his next guy in line in terms of replacing Langenbrunner off the ice.
At some point everyone needs to take a step back. Again this is a different season and each team will have their moments at different times. Look at the San Jose Sharks as the latest example.
I hear the rumblings regarding Jaden Schwartz. Personally I see the benefit of him staying in the NHL vs. down in the minors. Is he a fourth line player? No but he’s only a injury away from having a more prominent role.
Playing on the fourth line isn’t easy. You rarely touch the puck and usually leave the ice when given an offensive zone face-off.
Typically fourth line players are big and that also makes things difficult for Schwartz considering his size.
Schwartz played a top nine role early this season but hasn't seen much of that role for several games. He will be back with Patrik Berglund and Chris Stewart in Detroit .
This guy spent half the season down in Peoria and I see little benefit of sending him back there. It’s not just about this year for him and the Blues. The club wants him to be an impact player for years to come and keeping him in the NHL is the best place for Jaden Schwartz. It's important people maintain relaistic expectations during his first full NHL season.
With the ways things have gone in Peoria this season I not sure that option makes more sense.
The news of Doug Armstrong scouting the Toronto, Philly game Monday wasn’t totally newsworthy. What got people’s attention was the fact Flyers Director of Player Personnel Dave Brown was in St. Louis scouting the Blues the same night.
There’s no question Doug Armstrong is always looking to improve his roster. He usually stays with his team but it’s not completely out of the ordinary to see him leave to scout elsewhere.
The Blues have a chance to make this season special and they can’t allow it to get away from them. They need some help defensively but I wouldn’t close the door on the Blues adding a forward either.
It’s safe to assume Armstrong has looked into the availability of Colorado forward Ryan O’reilly. So has just about every other GM.
Teams like Winnipeg, Phoenix, Toronto and San Jose are a few teams who could be dangling a D-man.
Dustin Byfuglien just returned to the Jets lineup and Zach Bogosian isn’t far away. The team won’t expose young D-man Paul Postma to waivers which could lead to a player being shipped out.
Would Ron Hainsey, who is in the final year of his deal, become available? I do know he loved playing for Ken Hitchcock during his days in Columbus.
The Coyotes have a lot of organizational depth on defense with youngster Connor Murphy, Brandon Gormley, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Michael Stone among others.
This could make guys like Derek Morris and Keith Yandle expendable.
In Jarmo We Trust….
I’ll have more on the Columbus hiring of Jarmo Kekelainen soon but wanted to send congratulations. I have great respect for this guy and think he was a no-brainer for John Davidson. People will soon realize Kekelainen is more than just a draft specialist and now he has the platform to showcase himself.
Jamie Langenbrunner could have his hip operation as soon as Friday if the procedure is done in St. Louis.
Jaro Halak pulled himself out of the lineup just minutes before the Blues, Kings game Monday night. I’m told he was concerned and scared the injury wasn’t fully healed and didn’t want to risk making matters worse.
Obviously if Brian Elliott had put together a better homestand the team would’ve had the luxury of giving Halak a few extra days to rest his groin.
Considering the Blues had an open roster spot I was a little surprised they didn’t elect to keep Jake Allen through the morning skate as well as the pre-game just in case Halak suffered a setback.
As I reported on twitter yesterday Wade Redden will sit out tonight and Kris Russell is back in tonight against Detroit.
We all believe the Blues have a solid team and I agree with Hitchcock they can’t pass up this opportunity. Hitchcock said yesterday this is about being good for years, not months.
Brian Elliott save% at home is .784 with a 4.78 GAA.
He's also carrying a .741 power play save%
Blues Buzz airs tomorrow from 6:00-7:00 live from Johnny Mac’s on Crestwood. Former Stanley Cup champion Todd Ewen will join me.
More to come,
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