Folks: Boss Rutherford asked me to let you know that he's going to be delayed about 10 minutes. Hang in there. Thanks for your patience.
Getting started momentarily ...
OK, thanks for your patience. Well, three up and three down, the Blues are looking really good on this road trip. They've made some tweaks defensively and discuss those in tomorrow's article in the Post-Dispatch. We can get into that now a little bit, too. Whatever you want to talk about. Let's get chattin ...
For those who haven't heard, Stastny's injury isn't considered serious. He's doubtful for tomorrow's game, but Yeo says it's not long-term. I've got a blog up now, so check it out when you can. What did he hurt? Hard to tell from the replay, but it looked like his right leg, so maybe he got his knee or ankle twisted up.
He's looked really good. The Blues have always liked his speed, but in the past, he'd get up the ice quickly and didn't do much else. He struggled with board battles, etc. But now he's using his speed and also being strong on the puck. Paajarvi has had a few chances in the past and done OK, but always returned to being the player we know him as. I don't know if this time is different. But he was playing well in Chicago and he's looked good in a couple games here, so we'll see. Playing with Berglund and Schwartz helps, and with Fabbri out for the year, maybe he'll get more of an opportunity this time than he's had in the past.
What's happened is the Blues are playing closer together and supporting each other. That allows them to move the puck fast and look fast. Hitch wanted the same thing, but wasn't getting it. Part of that probably had to do with not responding to him very well, but as I mentioned, Yeo has always made some tweaks defensively. The Blues are sending two defensemen back together on their retrievals, sticking close together to give them a quick option to move the puck out. They're looking for quick short passes and they're moving fast. There was more distance between the support in the past. Again, I'll get into this more in tomorrow's article, including comments from Yeo, Parayko and Allen, and it will shed more light on why they're having success. But we can't overlook the fact that the Blues are paying more attention to the details of getting the puck out under Yeo and that is also playing a role.
As we hear a lot, the NHL is a deadline league. Teams don't usually offer what they can until there's a deadline. So Army is going to wait until there's a return that he likes for Shattenkirk. It could happen before the deadline, we've seen that in recent years, but I wouldn't expect that. Regarding your point about other teams trading now for Shattenkirk now, it doesn't make a ton of sense if you can sign him in the offseason and not have to give up anything for him (prospects, picks). However, other teams may need him now or they think having him for a couple of months gives them a better chance to sign him in the summer. There are logical reasons why teams would want him now, even if they have to give up assets.
It varies. At Scottrade, the media picks a few players we want to talk to and the Blues put their number of the board, notifying the players to make themselves available. On some nights at home, you can get other players who aren't on the list. I know some people have an impression that every player is sitting at their locker ready to yap with reporters. That's not the case. By the time we get into the room, most players are already out of their gear and in the hot tub, getting treatment or riding an exercise bike. It's not ideal and wish more people knew that. I get emails asking why I didn't talk to a certain guy about a turnover, or whatever, but that guy wasn't available. When you factor in that we're on deadline and sometimes only have about 10-15 minutes to wait before we need to return to our laptops, then it makes it even more difficult. On the road, it's a little different. You can get most players before they head to the team bus.
Yeo wouldn't say. He listed several options and that wasn't one of them. He mentioned Steen and Schwartz as possibilities and even said Paajarvi has played center in Chicago this year and could be an option.
At one point last night they were on a line with Paajarvi, so the Blues were running with an all-Wolves line. I wrote about this in today's Blues notebook. The Wolves staff, led by Craig Berube, is doing a great job getting these guys ready. A lot of their success has to do with the staff and the fact that the Wolves are running the same systems that the Blues are, so that uniformity is allowing the players to just play.
I think the Blues would like it, but I know Berube wants to be an NHL head coach again, so I'm not sure how long the Blues/Wolves are going to be able to hang onto him.
I think it's a combination of better defensive play in front of them and, for Jake, more confidence. I think his relationship with Brodeur is really good and Brodeur's ability to relate to a younger guy has made a big difference. But as I said, the coming together of all of those things are responsible for the goaltending we've seen lately.
I have not heard anything about Dallas wanting to move him out. They switched out a lot of players and have had a ton of injuries this year, not to mention the goaltending has always been suspect, so I don't see why it would fall on Ruff.
I suppose it could. If the Blues went on a run here and looked like a team that could really compete, you'd like to think that could have affect Army's thinking. But I don't think it will. Army has said they're going to play hard and see where it takes them, but they've got to keep their mind on the next couple of years and letting Shattenkirk walk for nothing doesn't jive with that line of thinking.
You hear stuff everyday. But the No. 1 responsibility I have is to be a professional. Anybody can be at the rink, here stuff and tweet it. You'll get a lot of a response from people. But you won't be doing it long because you're not going to earn the respect you need to do the job. I've heard about things like the Winter Classic coming before I report them, but you have to flush out the details and gets your facts straight before you report. You're asking about more gossipy stuff: trades, etc. Sometimes you catch wind of that stuff and sometimes you don't . Army has been close to the vest since he's been here. Not even the national guys have reported many breaking Blues' stories. I've heard after the fact about some trades that didn't go through. You just have to make a determination if it makes sense to report it. You hear stories about players' personalities and how that has an affect on a team or a situation. Or why a guy maybe not be playing well. What are the pros and cons of reporting it. It's the daily balance of being a professional.
I'm sure teams are calling about Berglund. To me, he's going to be the one to watch. It's going to hurt the Blues' playoff chances obviously if they move Shattenkirk. But if they do it, you can't blame them. But if they are in the playoff picture and trade Shattenkirk and Berglund, that's going to leave a mark. I can't see them doing that. I think the return for Berglund would have to be big enough that they can't say not. I'm not saying Berglund is going to get a BIG return, I'm just saying that it would have to be big enough that the Blues think it makes sense if it lessens their chances this year. I personally don't see them moving him if they're still in the picture, but that's whatever they do with him with be interesting. I'm not sure there would be a lot of interest in Upshall. Perhaps, but I don't think so.
He had the surgery and he feels a lot more comfortable with his shoulder. He's talked about being more confident going into certain areas and I think it's evident.
He's been a little better lately. I think part of it is the jump the Blues got with the coaching staff. Also, Lehtera's linemates (Agostino, Perron) have been good. Agostino had nine shots on goal the first two games. But you're right, Lehtera has done a good job of setting Agostino up on some of those chances. So yeah, he's been better, but I don't know if it's because he's not on Tarasenko's line. I think it's because of the coaching change, the linemates, the team's playing well, etc.
The Blues never announced the severity of the tear. I was planning to ask Army about surgery when I saw him, but he got stuck in Boston because of the bad weather ... so perhaps tomorrow in Montreal. Looking forward to seeing your hometown later tonight, thanks!
Yakupov did look pretty active. But Yeo is giving everybody a look and the other guys have taken an advantage of their looks. The team is playing well, so no reason to make any changes. They'll have to with Stastny out, but wouldn't be otherwise. Yeo's been here all year, he knows what Yakupov can and can't do. I don't view this as a situation where Yakupov gets another fresh start. He is what he is. He'll get some games, but the Blues like what they've got now.
1. As far as I know, Agostino is primarily a left winger. To me, he's passed up those guys because the Blues are putting them in the lineup. Yakupov is certainly past that stage of being a prospect and you can probably start to say that with Jaskin too. At some point Jaskin's got to show he deserves to be in the lineup. So Agostino may not stay the whole year, the contracts that players have (like Jaskin) can dictate team's decisions, but again, whoever is in the lineup is who the team likes. 2 Regarding Bortuzzo/Gunnarsson, that could be. I'll ask Yeo about it tomorrow. The Blues like how the team looks with Bortuzzo in the lineup, but I don't think either player has been overly impressive lately. I think they're just letting them play, taking turns, and seeing what they need on a given night like you said.
That's going to be interesting. Part of me wants to say they won't re-sign him. But they did lose Rattie and they don't have a lot of depth in the organization as far as top nine forwards go. If he's re-signed, I think it's a Nos. 13-14 forward situation.
I see where you're coming from, but in reality, Hitch has been a lame-duck coach the past couple of years. He was working on a one-year deal. People will say the coach in waiting is different. True, it's probably a little awkward for everybody. But even if the Blues didn't have that, Army could have fired Hitch, brought Yeo in off his couch and made the change. I think the Blues' issues had more to do with they lost some bodies and were trying to find out who they were. Hitch was adjusting with what he had, it wasn't coming together and then you have the questions about how much command he had with them. But his command on them this year, to me, was no different than the past couple of years. Him wearing on players was nothing new. I could be wrong, the Blues might have been better off with Yeo out of the gate this year, but even Yeo says he's benefiting from the fact that he had some time to get his feet wet first.
Not going to happen. They owe him two more years, which would cost $6.3 million.