There's reason to fret right now. Jaden Schwartz was the team MVP. Everybody has to do more in his absence -- and that hasn't happened yet. The huge test for this group continues.
Yes, Doug Armstrong would consider a trade. No, there's not much out there right now. Many teams looking for offense and few teams offering it up. So for the umpteenth time, it's Sammy Blais everybody!
Well, no, they will play on. Playoffs are still easily in reach. Lots of guys need to step it up and quickly. But there is no mercy in this league. The Coyotes and Sabres are pretty bad, the Canucks are depleted and the Panthers are oddly punchless, but just about every other team can summon a big effort on a given night. It's getting to the point now where every point will be precious.
Yeah, a few years ago Lindbohm seemed to be on the cusp of sticking in the NHL. But he didn't progress. I was surprised he signed with the Blues this season rather than sticking in Europe. He came in about 10th on the depth chart. As for Schmaltz, he did OK last season as a fill-in. Didn't fare great in Blues camp, but he scored 19 points with a plus-10 rating in 24 games for San Antonio. Hence the call-up.
Colton is somewhat better offensively this season, three goals in 33 games, compared to four in 81 games last season, with a better points-per-game average. He is minus-5 in the last two games, but he also played 27 minutes per game with the team missing Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester and took all the tough minutes. Until that, he plus-10, also up from last year.
Yes, 91 is a bit frustrated these days. He is generating some scoring chances, but life is not the same playing without 17 on the other side. As one of the league's top talents, he is just going to have fight through this until a two- or three-goal game loosens him up. As for the power play, we saw a bit of progress later in the game Thursday with some quick puck movement and shots from the middle of the ice. Let's see if they build on that.
Blais is going to go back to the AHL if he is the odd man out. The Blues don't want him sitting around the way, say, Wade Megan would. When he comes back, as he is today, it's because there is a chance he'll play.
I don't see money there for Kane in the long haul, not with Edmundson next up to get a long-term contract and Schenn due for a nice raise in a couple of years. Even with the salary cap going up, there are only so many slots for premium-salary guys. The Blues already have several. And teams are careful when committing those long-term dollars. Is Kane really a cornerstone player? Perhaps somewhere, but I don't see that here/
As I just noted, there are only so many slots for high-salary, long-term contract guys on one team. The team decided Oshie wasn't such a guy. He has produced when teamed with skilled playmakers in Washington, converting 20 percent-plus of his shots the last two years. But that doesn't change this team's assessment. As for Brouwer, he helped the Blues make their first Final Four appearance in 15 years, so the Blues were happy with that short-term get. Remember, the deal was Oshie for Brouwer and long-term cap space.
These team changed a lot with the injuries to Schwartz, then Pietrangelo, then Bouwmeester. That's a big chunk of the nucleus. The team that rolled Detroit 6-1 is not the same team today. Otherwise, the team lulls this season have been fairly brief, two or three at a time. They started coming out of the previous lull during a loss to the Wild where they skated well, controlled possession and just didn't finish.
Of course, the idea is to have him moving in from the point to look for that quick-release snap-shot and also create space for, say, Parayko at the blue line. The power play wasn't great with him operating from the left half boards, so I suppose this was worth a look. The idea is to have the team's best offensive player dictating the play.
That's the answer. His size allows him to cause some havoc around the net, which is a plus, but primarily he is getting chances because the team lacks other options.
Until his junior team is done playing this year, he could only be an emergency recall per the rules -- if the Blues had so many injuries that there no other choice. Also, his overall play isn't as strong as Robert Thomas, the other elite Blues prospect in junior hockey.
All things are on the table right now. How about Scottie Upshall getting 12 1/2 minutes against the Ducks? He moved up to third line work out of necessity. Brodziak got extra looks too. Desperate times, desperate measures.
There will be little real difference between the eight teams that make the bracket on each side of the league. Home ice is nice, but Blues fans can recall lots of painful home playoff losses. It's not all that. A hot goaltender can win anywhere. A team that can just roll lines doesn't have to fret about the last change.
Yeah, 91 is still getting his looks. He just needs to keep firing. I love his competitiveness, but he can't get it get the best of him. Scorers that try too hard start to aim shots or wait for perfect opportunities. Neither approach works out so well. Get shots off quickly and often and go looking for the garbage too.
I don't see a sure playmaking center hitting the market. He clicked with Schenn so my answer would be to play him with Schenn. If they get in a little rut, let them play out of it. Of if he plays with Stastny, also put Schwartz on the other side because 17 feeds 91 as well as anybody. As for the future. I see Edmundson getting to $4 million in this marketplace and the open space being more No. 2 center money -- Perhaps Stastny returning for less, depending on he plays and how the market plays.
Yes, the Blues could use another top 6 forward. So do most of the other teams within reach of the playoffs. The price for rentals will run very high and the Blues lack a No. 1 pick to put in a package, so they won't be at the front of the rental line. As for a hockey trade, perhaps a D-man for a forward deal could arise at some point. But at the moment who's available?
Steen missed the first six games and the Blues were 4-2. As for 6 on 5 comparisons, don't have that handy.