Hello Blues fans, grab your seat, we'll get started momentarily ...
Well, who is ready for some happy Blues' talk. The club has played a couple of good games in a row and they're scoring goals. San Jose has been playing well lately (minus the 1-0 loss in Carolina) and they've got a veteran team, so Thursday's win was big in my book. We've got lots to discuss, including a fourth line that's playing like a top line. So let's get chattin...
Nothing really to report. The Blues held an optional practice today and Steen was not on the ice. Hitch was hoping that Steen, along with Edmundson, would be able to skate with the team Saturday morning. I'd say Steen's availability for the Predators game is questionable-to-doubtful at this point.
Yakupov has fallen out of favor quickly, as we've all witnessed. I think early on, you're thinking that a change of scenery will help, a structured system, new teammates, etc. He's got speed, which the team needs, he doesn't need top-six minutes, everything seems like it could be a good fit. But then you put him out there and realize that he can't play the five-man game that the Blues want to play, with three forwards and two defensemen working together. He doesn't put himself in positions to help teammates and support the puck. That was the knock on him in Edmonton and after a few games here, it's the same situation. How do you get him going? I don't know. He may never be that type of player. But if he's not playing the way you need him to, you can't suit him up unless it's a necessity. They're going to have to continue to work with him in practice and see if he ever gets it.
He did have a couple of fumbles last night, but the forecheck that set up one of Schwartz's two goals was nice to see. I think he's played pretty well the last stretch of games. I don't know that I'd say it's the best we've seen him play. Remember, he scored 13 goals in 2014-15 and made some nice plays. He's got the talent, as we've often said, but he needs to be a lot more consistent, and when he's given an opportunity like the one he has now, he can't lose the puck and take penalties.
Not a whole lot. He's made the occasional comment about him looking OK. Bortuzzo was activated from IR last night and Hitch said today that he could play Saturday. Hitch said they're going to have to take a hard look at the situation. He mentioned the lefty-righty situation probably favors Lindbohm staying in the lineup. I like Lindbohm, he'll obviously be better as he gets some more games under his belt. I don't think he's done anything to hurt his cause.
The top line players are going to get their minutes. If the fourth line is playing more, the third line is playing less. As far as the penalties, they still need to be limited. The top players also kill penalties, so they might get the same ice time, but when you're killing penalties, you're limiting their even-strength time and you're limiting Hitch's ability to roll the fourth line.
He must have. If you don't get the reference here, Ryan Reaves always seems to play well when his dad Willard is in the seats. Reaves looks great. We wrote about him earlier in the season, dropping a few pounds and focusing on playing the system. Honestly, I didn't think it was going to make that much of a difference in his production, or how he was used. I know it's a small sample size, but he is really playing some of the best hockey I've ever seen him play. As he's mentioned in the paper, he's not looking for hits, he's looking to support his line, etc. By the way, my colleague Tom Timmermann will have more on Reaves and the fourth line in tomorrow's paper. I'm looking forward to reading what everyone has to say about him and the line.
He had the cup of coffee with the Blues a couple of weeks ago when Pietrangelo was dinged up. But Pietrangelo wound up being fine and Hunt didn't play. He's a good player. The knock on him, and I realize it's not fair, is that he's 5-8, 187. I've heard people say that if he were a few inches taller, it would be a different story. Others his size, like a Mike Weaver, have gotten the job done, so it's not impossible. But it seems like the Blues have enough depth ahead of Hunt that it would take a couple of injuries before we'd see him again.
Somebody has to play in the top-six with Steen out, and whoever that is is going to get significant ice time, or more than usual. Who do you want up there instead of Jaskin? Yakupov? Rattie? As far as Berglund's ice time, I mentioned earlier that the fourth line is eating up some of the third-line ice time.
I could be off my rocker here, but I don't see why not. Maybe the argument is that Reaves doesn't have the experience in front of the net. But he's got the body and while he may not be Pavel Datsyuk, I think he's got enough skill and awareness that when pucks get knocked down in front, he can put them in. I'd like to hear Hitch on this topic, and when I get his take, I'll remember to pass it along.
I don't think we'll see this. They like Bouwmeester with Pietrangelo, and actually, I think they like the pairs in general that they're using right now. Will we see it change at some point? Probably, happens every year. But I don't think there are plans to take a look at anything else right now.
I don't know, it's an alumni game. I just look at it like it'll be fun to see guys like Hull and Gretzky and Federko wearing the Blue Note. I'm not going to Vegas to check the line on the game. I'm not saying that you're suggesting anything, I'm just saying this a ceremonial game and it'll be fun for the fans and fun for these guys to get on the ice. As far as the rosters, this is the Blues' first game, so they're going with the 'A' team. I think this is the Hawks' 5th one, so they're spreading the love a little bit.
Teams don't have to make that public. When I asked if Steen had been pulled by the game by the league's spotters, I was told that he was "sore."
The Blues are definitely going to need some offense from Parayko at some point. I think he's been playing pretty good defensively, but it seems impossible that the guy with the hardest shot doesn't have a goal nearly 20 games into the season. He doesn't even have to score, but the Blues do need his shot to create some offense ... shots by him that are knocked down and cleaned up by other people. He has a few assists lately, but yeah, we need to see the bomb more often.
I don't see it happening. When I asked Hitch about Rattie getting in the lineup a couple of days ago, he didn't seem overly optimistic. He said Rattie had to wait his turn and when he got his turn, he had to jump all over it. Listen, they do not want to play Yakupov right now and they chose to play Yakupov over Rattie last night. That tells me a lot about what they think about Rattie right now. Probably unfair, because he's played just one game. But that's the situation right now.
Just nicked up, according to Hitch.
Joseph is playing in the Toronto alumni game and couldn't be here. I'm not sure about Fuhr. I spoke to Brodeur last night and he did not want to accept the invite because he wanted anyone else who deserved it more to have the opportunity. But they told him that other goalies had commitments and they'd like him to play, so he accepted.
Not yet. There will be a lot of talk about it come Monday. But in there world, things are day to day, and it's taboo to be looking ahead, so I've not heard Backes' name come up yet.
The rumors have been hot and heavy, and I do think there's something to it. Armstrong was in Toronto for the GM meetings and I understand that he did have trade talks. I can't confirm that they strictly involved Shattenkirk, but he had talks. Furthermore, Armstrong was not at last night's Blues-Sharks game. He is on the road and I believe out East. Also, I believe Brodeur is headed to Boston to catch up with a couple of Blues' prospects this weekend. The Bruins host Winnipeg on Saturday, so there's that. Krejci is a name that I've heard is a possibility. He's got a cap hit of $7.25 million, so the Blues would have to make it work financially. The Bruins, or any team that the Blues talk to about Shattenkirk, would likely contact his agent about an extension and I don't believe that's happened yet. But I would pay attention to anything you hear about Shattenkirk and Boston.
No. I heard that Fox Sports wanted to televise, but the NHL would want a rights fee, and I don't believe they could come to an agreement.
Yes it is. Steen, to me, is still that guy. But Schwartz is right there. It doesn't matter how many games I watch Schwartz play, I'm still amazed by what he's able to do against bigger players in the defensive zone, stripping pucks, getting body position, etc. He's got some of the best hockey sense I've seen. Just a really, really good all-around player.
I don't think they want to "move on" from Rattie. Just because he's not currently in the mix doesn't mean he won't ever develop into that player. I know some fans will snicker at that because the Blues have demonstrated that they won't give him a chance. But that's life in the NHL. If you're not one of the top 12, you're not playing. He's here because he's got a one-way contract and they have him ready as a depth player. In a perfect world, they'd love for him to be playing every day in the AHL. But he has to clear waivers and that rule is in place for the player so that teams can't stick guys in the minors. If he's an NHL player, some team would pick him up and he'd stay in the league. He's just caught in no-man's land right now.