We'll begin the chat as soon as I get out of this line at the department store, so it could be a few days. Well, just kidding, but after being on the road for a few days I do have some Christmas shopping to do today. While I'm out, I'm going to look for some road juice for the Blues, after the blew another multi-goal lead Thursday in Tampa. What gives? We'll try to address it in the next hour. Let's get chattin' ...
Let's take this question one step at a time. Stastny's injury is not serious and he's expected back next Wednesday. Not that that matters in the big scope of things because regardless of his health, the Blues still need help at center. But secondly, I don't think the Blues would consider buying out Lehtera in a million years. That's not Armstrong's thing, and the organization can't afford to hand out money. Now they may leave him exposed in the draft and hope that he gets picked up, which I don't think would happen. But I can't see them paying him nearly $7 million, which is 2/3rds of what he's owed the next two years, to walk away. Yes, they need help at center and right now I'm not sure how they're going to address it. The thing is, unless you're moving Shattenkirk, I don't see how you're improving the situation mid-season, and as we've said for weeks, which center are you going to get for Shattenkirk? At this point, there are probably a few who are upgrades over what you have, but are teams moving them for a defenseman whose contract is expiring? The key obviously is if Shattenkirk is willing to re-sign long-term with that club. We'll see ...
Hitchcock said after the game that he would be OK. It looked like Allen wanted to stay in the game. Ray Barile ran off the ice and Allen stayed in the crease, so I think they made the determination that he was OK. But in the meantime, I think Hitchcock told Hutton to take his spot. That made sense. It's a 4-2 game with less than two minutes to play. It didn't make sense to keep Allen in there, especially when they were pulling the goalie anyway. As far as an update, we won't get one for a few days. Everybody went their separate ways after the game and they're off until Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m.
Sorry, this question from 2015 just popped into the system. I would have answered soon, but I just now saw it.
I've not heard about any plans between the Blues and Wilson.
This one is hard to explain. Allen has shown that he has tools. He has shown that he's better fundamentally than he's shown. I think what's happened is the team has changed a bit, things look a little different, he's let in some tough goals and his confidence has been shaken a bit. Could it be too that the pressure of being the No. 1 guy has affected him? Perhaps, but I'm not putting it all on that. I think he's shown that he can be a good goalie in this league. Elite? He hasn't shown that. But I would like to know how Allen and his numbers would look like if the Blues were a similar club from the couple of years and had an identity right now. I'm not saying he's not at fault. He clearly has let them down at times. But I just think the team being in transition has affected his performance. There's not winning any board battles in the defensive zone or doing anything to protect the front of the net. He's getting exposed, he's letting in some bad goals too, and the confidence erodes.
Is he getting a pass from who? I think people have been pretty outspoken about the moves that haven't worked out, the contracts that aren't looking good right now, and the lack of movement as well. I've mentioned many times, but I'll say it again, I am a beatwriter and I don't write commentary, so you're never going to read an article or blog of mine that editorializes Armstrong's performance. I can present facts but that is it. So that's why I'm asking you, 'Who is he getting a pass from?' As far as Stillman's thoughts about the situation, I've written this several times too, and I don't think anything has changed. Stillman fully supports Armstrong. Is the owner frustrated with how things have gone and wondering what they can do to improve things? Yes, for sure. He's said that. But as far as being behind Armstrong, I have no doubts after many conversations with him.
Well, we all know that Steen missed four games last month with the upper-body injury, which followed offseason shoulder injury. Is he 100 percent? He would never say that. I don't see how he could be. I hate to judge someone by numbers, but one goal in his last 23 games is not him. He's made some Steen-like plays, setting up some goals, but he's got three goals and he's a minus-12. Something is wrong. You watch the game and while he's had tough defensive assignments, he seems to be a non-factor. We asked Hitch about this and he stuck up for him, saying that last year he played with the same line for 55 games and this year they've had to move him around to spark others. Nice try, but Steen's not the same player right now. He will certainly be protected in the expansion draft. While things aren't going well for him right now, he's one of your core players. Also, while Steen doesn't have a no movement clause, I know there's not a chance in heck he would have signed that extension without some sort of agreement that he was staying in St. Louis.
They've got to man up. The play in the defensive zone right now is softer than my belly. Like I'm not one to hammer players, but anyone watching these games can see that veteran players are getting beat on the wall, in the corners and in front of the net like it's nobody's business. Look at Tampa Bay's second goal last night: J.T. Brown of Tampa's famed fourth line went for a rec skate around the entire Blues' offensive zone untouched before making a pass to the point that led to the deflection goal. I could go on and on. It's happening too often, there are multiple guilty players and until they decide they're going to man up, I don't see it getting fixed.
I'm a fan of Brad Shaw, but how do you mean? If Shaw were still on the staff would the Blues be playing more aggressively in the D zone? I don't know. To me, it's not X's and O's. The core of the Blues' defense is made up of 3-4 vets and a really really good young player in Parayko. They know how to play defense the way Hitch and the staff want them to. Rick Wilson, who took over the defense from Shaw, has been in the league for a loooooong time. He knows what he's doing. But somebody has to get these guys off the couch. The coaches have said they're trying and believe that it's the players who have to find it inside them. Could Shaw do that? He's a great coach, but it's hard for me to sit here and say he would be able to get that out of them. Again, going back to an earlier question about Allen, I just think the team has changed a bit, the coaching staff is in flux a bit, and right now everybody's trying to figure out who the Blues really are.
I understand where you're coming from. I can only tell you what the Blues sold it as. They wanted a center because they wanted two solid lines for the road game and they wanted to keep Steen-Berglund-Perron together. I guess you could have done something differently, moving Schwartz to center, putting Fabbri on his line, dropping Lehtera down and filling out the lineup with Yakupov or Rattie. But that's not what the Blues wanted to do. Plus I think they wanted to reward a guy in Megan who had been playing well in Chicago.
I've seen the rumors. I haven't heard anything concrete that makes it worth addressing. Those are a couple of good players that could probably help the Blues. I like Henrique, but can you do better? I'm not sure. Like I said earlier, it's really tough to read the market for Shattenkirk. How about Hall? Then you complete the trade that the Blues would have liked to do with Edmonton. I know the Blues need centers, not wingers, but I think he's the guy that would have helped. They need speed.
If that's the case, then I would be all over it like Lou Korac at a Jorts outlet mall. Duchene would be terrific.
As I observe it, Armstrong is not a guy who likes to be quoted regularly assessing the state of the team. As the beatwriter, I would he would do it more. I could probably do a better job of writing more stories in which Armstrong is assessing things. But quite honestly, he lives in his world and even if he is addressed with questions about perceived issues or shortcomings, he underscores that those problems are things that other people are worrying about, not him. That may not be truthful. He may be spending a lot of time addressing them behind the scenes, but he's not very open about what he's thinking. I understand it. Believe me, there are GMs around the league that say nothing. Some beatwriters have a hard time even getting an interview with their GM, and even when they do, they say nothing. So Armstrong is not alone here. I'm bias because of my job, but I read and listen to a GM like the Cardinals' John Mozeliak be more transparent with his vision and I think it's very beneficial for everyone from the fans to the organization itself. I really do.
It happens when you lose several vets and put younger players into more prominent roles. I don't think this should have blindsided anybody. We all talked about the change in leadership, loss of physicality, pressure on Allen. None of this is new. I think the good start might have distracted us from the concerns, but they were still concerns, and now they're coming to the forefront.
I can't see it right now. I really can't. Like we've said, when this team is playing well, it's a good team. They can beat the teams that you mentioned with their roster. But when things get racheted up in the playoffs, I don't know how anyone could see this team as constructed now as a team that could muscle its way through 3-4 rounds. Forget about initiating, I'm talking about being able to absorb it and play well enough to keep going.
I think right now you could put all three in a hat and pick one. At this point with the inconsistency shown by Jaskin and Yakupov, I don't know why you don't give Rattie a couple of games. Hey, he may not be able to help you. I don't know. But other than a play here and there, you are not getting anything out of these other guys.
Yeah, but it's whatever angle you want to look at it. To me, a lack of maturity is the same thing as saying they've been affected by a loss of veterans, a loss of leadership. And yes, I do think that's the No. 1 reason behind the inconsistent play, inability to deal with adversity, inability to play well on the road, etc.
They are on the backburner for now, and perhaps for good. From what I have gathered, and it's subject to change, the Blues will wear their Winter Classic jerseys a few times in the regular season after the Classic is played.
I like Bortuzzo but him being in the lineup is not going to make the other guys play better. Bortuzzo has been good, but it's not his physicality that has made him better this year. It's his overall play. Yes, it would be nice if somebody on the backend play more physical, but Bortuzzo's 14 minutes a night aren't going to fix what ails the Blues right now. As far as his timetable, he went out in early December and was expected to miss about six weeks, so mid-to-late January seems to be the possible return date.
I don't think so with Barbashev and Schmaltz. The Blues have clearly shown they are looking for the guys like Hunt and Megan who have a little more seasoning. Those guys were playing the best in Chicago and that's why they got the call. As we've said before, the club wants to keep Barbashev and Schmaltz playing every night. Binnington is the No. 3 goalie.
Hunt will need waivers when he plays in 10 games or is on the NHL roster for 30 days. Currently, he's played six games and he's been on the roster for about 14 days.
You may be write, but you could be rongue.
Really good movie on a controversial topic. It's a tough conversation because you can't change the minds of people on both sides of the fence. If you like fighting and think it's important, protects star players, etc., every argument you make will support. And vice-versa. I didn't play the game, so I'm not going to pretend to know how much having that threat on the ice curbs the targeting and cheap shots on those players. If you take it away, do the Crosby's of the world suffer? Seems logical, but I don't know. I don't think anybody will be able to properly express the affect, or convince people on either side. But I think the movie did a good job.
They report back to the team Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.
Merry Christmas Wheats. I believe they do have to deal him. He is their only chip, outside of trading a young guy that won't yield much anyway and won't work anyway because it likely wouldn't offset the salary of the forward coming in the trade. And no, from what I've seen, this isn't a team that that is a serious playoff contender right now.
He got hurt in the Dallas game, yes. He played of course in Tampa Bay, so it doesn't seem to be anything that would keep him out. The break should help.
You have to keep doing it, but you're right, the Blues are not very good 6 on 5.
Let's save the prediction for next week. Merry Christmas to you as well.
And Merry Christmas to everyone else. I'm going to call it here and start working on this week's Blues Insider. Be sure to take a peek at it Sunday. I spoke to several players about their Christmas plans and got some funny responses. Be safe everyone and enjoy the holidays!