Good Friday everyone. Well, the Blues were off to a good start under Mike Yeo the last time we chatted and it's gotten even better. They were really good on the road and then found a way to win last night when they were visibly worn out. As always, lots to talk about, so I'm looking forward to this today. A word of warning: I have a busy day and will need to keep the chat to about 1 hour. So let's not waste any time and let's get chattin' ...
Great chat? I haven't even answered a question yet. Oh I see, Big Al. You remember from last week when I said that writing "Great chat" will get your question answered. Good memory.
To answer your question, I think Barbashev has done enough to stay. I think you're looking at Agostino and obviously Megan being returned to the Wolves when Stastny and Brodziak are ready, which could be very soon.
The Blues will have the option after the season to qualify him. If they do, they maintain his rights. If they don't, he becomes UFA.
Just a few months ago, Barbashev was a year away from the NHL, or more. But the Blues brought a new coach into Chicago in Craig Berube, who enhanced Barbashev's role and he has really taken advantage of it. It's not just me who's been pleasantly surprised with his progress, I think the Blues are too. Certainly they knew he had the talent, but it just wasn't being brought out and now it is. Yes, he looks like he's got the tools to be a good third-line center and maybe more.
I'm not sure how long. As I've mentioned, he wants to be in the NHL again. He could have been an NHL assistant somewhere this year, but wanted to establish himself as a head coach again. If I'm not mistaken, he signed a two-year deal to coach the Wolves, but if he's a hot commodity this offseason, he could be gone.
Let me say up front, they are playing really well. Sure, we all expected a bump from the coaching change, but this is more than I envisioned. Before the change, I thought this team could make the playoffs, but it was way too inconsistent to be a threat, and obviously the goaltending was a huge question mark. It's only been eight games, and I don't want to get too caught up in the record (7-1), but they're playing good hockey. They're playing for each other. They're getting great goaltending. I was waiting to see how the Blues dealt with some adversity and last night's win, coming home after a five-game road trip and playing back-to-back nights, came in the face of that adversity. So that's a good sign. But can they make a run? I still think it's premature to say that. They've got to get Stastny and Brodziak back in the lineup. The minor leaguers have been very good yeah, but you need your team back before you know what you've got. And then let's see some more of what they can do when they run into trouble. I still think this team has some questions marks and that's no to mention the fact that you'll have some holes if you decide to trade Shattenkirk and/or Berglund. So still a lot has to play out.
I'd imagine it's got to be really tough for Doug Armstrong and ownership. They, of course, want to make the playoffs and they understand that if you make the postseason, anything can happen. They realize that if you take that out from under both the team and the fans it sends a bad message. But they have to be realistic, too. If the package for Shattenkirk is too great to pass up, they have to be smart. I'll be honest: I don't know what they're going to do. However, if I had a guess, they probably have a good idea now of what they want to do, but they want to see the team play these last five games before the deadline and see where that takes them. Are the Blues still playing like this? Where do the offers stand? I'd imagine they're still up for going either direction.
That team got so tired of your comments in the chat that they just started picking things up and playing better. Credit goes to you bud!
Go rest you stupid ideas.
Using his speed, but more importantly playing smart. Good decisions, going to the right areas, playing aggressive, winning more battles. He's had a ton of chances and it hasn't always clicked. As I've mentioned in the past week or two, I'm not here to say he's going to stick for a few more years. But he's playing the best hockey that I've seen him play and he looks like a contributor now. The Blues have some players coming back from injury, so it remains to be seen if he'll stay in the lineup. But he's turned himself into an option.
I didn't see Brodeur's reaction on TV, but I heard about it. I asked him this morning about the play and got a one-word text back: "C-R-A-Z-Y."
They are working on the logistics of that now. The AHL is looking to add an expansion team, but I don't know that any details have been decided, or at least not yet announced.
Going to back to a zone seems significant to you and me, but when I asked the players about it, they don't feel like it was an overhaul or anything like that. They just feel like they've made some tweaks that they're more comfortable with. Many of them told me that man to man can be successful if you execute it right and play with passion. The Blues weren't doing that. Yeo might have been able to keep the man to man and if the Blues played like they are now, they might have been OK. But he decided to change it, and with the passion the team is playing with, this is the result. I haven't spoken to Hitch about this, but when I do, I'll pass along his thoughts.
The Blues canceled the team practice, so therefore the media (myself) didn't attend. I'm guessing Stastny skated on his own, but the team went straight to the airport for its flight to Buffalo this afternoon. Tom Timmermann is on this trip, so perhaps we'll hear an update from him later. Of course if the Blues announce that he's coming off IR today, we'll know that he's ready to go.
Remember now, Tarasenko doesn't like Tank. Do you want me to call you LNOTE instead of BNOTE? Didn't think so. I don't see how they're spoiling his career. He's had a pretty good career so far, right? I do know what you're getting at, though, and that's that he needs a No. 1 center to maximize what he can do. I'd like to see more of him and Stastny when Stastny is healthy again. I'm sure some fans will say that Stastny's not answer. I think based on what we saw in their few games together, they could be good. But I wouldn't disagree with anyone who said that this team could really use a play-making guy like Duchene, and yes, if Tarasenko had a guy like him, then no one could complain about spoiling Tarasenko's career. That sound good LNOTE?
It seems like I get an email from the Wolves every day saying they've signed a new forward to a contract.
You guys are keeping me busy today. I answer five questions and get 15 more.
Yes, but .... it's a very good sign. They had to cut down on the penalties and they are being more disciplined. However, when you're scoring first and building a lead, then you're not chasing the game and taking bad penalties. So yes, fewer penalties have been beneficial. But it's because they're playing well from the start, scoring and getting good goaltending, and not putting themselves in a position where they're making plays that are putting them in the box.
Well, according to the scuttlebutt, the Blues are asking for a first-round pick, a prospect and possibly more. I think if you're Army, that's what you have to be asking for at this point. Are they going to get that. Who knows? Army sets the sweepstakes and teams will decide where it goes. If you can get that kind of package, yeah, you don't pass that up. Do you want to be Army sitting in your office in late May, out of the playoffs, with Kevin Shattenkirk still on the roster and headed to unrestricted free agency and you could've had that deal? I don't.
Breaking news coming out of the Blues during our chat. Kyle Brodziak has been activated from IR and will be coming back two weeks ahead of his original timetable. Wade Megan has been sent back to Chicago. No word yet on Stastny' status.
I know that Hutton had his hiccups, but when he's been the starting goaltender this year, he's been pretty good. I don't have the splits in front of me, but a lot of Hutton's damage came when he entered the game cold for Allen. Remember that stretch when it was three straight and four out of six. Not fun for a backup goalie to do that. He is a very good teammate and has been very supportive of Allen. And yes, while Allen does know that he's the No. 1 guy, you have to believe that Hutton's performance has been a motivator for Allen. Obviously Allen will tell you that he's going to work hard regardless of how the guy behind him is playing, but psychologically you have to know that if the other guy is playing better, he's going to get in there.
I don't. I don't think that's what a playoff-caliber team (who else would be trading for Shattenkirk as a rental) is going to be offering.
No, it's not a shot he'll ever take on a regular basis. His bread and butter is the wrister. He's got speed and accuracy on the wrist, so it's just as lethal if not more lethal than a slapper.