With Bouwmeester's contract up after this season and at age 35, I think it's a safe bet that he won't be back next season. Now whether the Blues get something for him as a rental this season to a playoff contending team that needs defense remains to be seen. Given the circumstances, it won't be a lot. The second goal against the Rangers, by the way, deflected off his leg. Overall, he has played better of late. He's been skating pretty well. And overall is an asset on the PK.
Last year through 37 games he had 15 goals and 20 assists _ 35 points. This year through 37 games, it's 11 goals, 11 assists _ 22 points. I think it's a combination of factors. I do think the shoulder is partly an issue. I agree with a previous poster who said Tarasenko needs to get the puck on net quicker and develop a one-timer. I think he needs to drive to the net more often, something Berube has talked to him about (Berube mentioned this today, in fact). I don't know what else is there.
I don't know if you strip the whole thing down. But as we've discussed throughout the chat, it seems crystal clear that something has to change. Funny that Armstrong felt the window was opening on this group being a Stanley Cup contender in September.
I think the team has been doing better with respect to puck battles lately. I do think they are too predictable and too robotic on the power play.
I'd venture to say not many coaches have won a Stanley Cup period. I don't think that should be an automatic disqualifier for Quenneville.
Yeah, I've heard that too about Thomas.
It is surprising to me how often the opposing team scores from around the net when there's nobody around him on defense. Is this just me, or does it seem like it has happened a lot more this season than last? Is it scheme with new coaches this season? I've asked players and coaches a few times about that over the course of the season and the consistent answer is the scheme is unchanged.
Gunnarsson told me late this morning that he's ready to go, it's up to the coaches now. For the first time this season, the Blues will have their full complement of D-men available Thursday against Washington: Petro, Edmundson, Parayko, Bouwmeester, Dunn, Bortuzzo, Gunnarsson, Schmaltz. So who sits, other than Schmaltz? Bouwmeester? Dunn? I think you have to get Gunnarsson in there. He was pretty good with Pietrangelo earlier in the season.
Tarasenko was not at practice today, so it's hard to know for sure. Minus Tarasenko,, Thomas was with Schwartz and Schenn, and that would be interesting to say the least if that's what we see Thursday against the Caps.
Again, I don't view Fabbri on the fourth line as a long-term deal. While Fabbri is there, the fourth line will have less muscle, but more skill. Sundqvist is underrated as a passer. He had a great setup to Fabbri against the Rangers (I think Fabbri hit the post).
Ah Schmaltz. I think there's more to his game than we've seen. At age 25, I think he's still young enough that he needs to be playing, even if it's at the AHL level. Problem is, the Blues must think he'll be claimed if they put him on waivers. But with Gunnarsson back, as you suggest, it just pushes him farther down the bench. I think it is possible that the Blues go with 8 D and 12 F for the near future. Schmaltz has played in only three of 14 games since playing against Detroit Nov. 28. That can't be good for his development.
I'm not aware that there is a place where this can be found. Obviously, there is no plus-minus for power play goals. I think the best you might be able to determine is how many power power play goals you were on the ice for (as a member of the PK unit). The NHL's game-by-back boxscores list this, but again, I'm unaware of any place where this is compiled as a stat. Maybe one of the chat participants knows of a place. If you do, let us know.
Overall, I think this team needs more speed, skill and playmaking ability. I think it needs more mental toughness. Again, I wouldn't make the decision now _ I'd let the season play out _ but I think you have to take a long, hard look at the goaltending situation. (I know. I know. You said not to mention this. But you have to.) And again, I'm one of the last ones on this bus, but unless something changes dramatically, I think you have to look at the leadership core.
You're welcome. I think we're recording another Net Front Thursday afternoon.
I keep hearing that about Backes from various people about his leadership ability. At age 34, would it be worth it at this stage of his career? (Especially if you don't think it's happening for the Blues this year.)
I'll just say this. I think its time to see Thomas on the power play. And right now _ I'm not saying it's forever _ I'd have him replace Steen on the PP.
He's an excellent passer. I'm sure we'd all agree on that. I think most of us would agree that he needs to start looking for his own shot more.
I'm sure Armstrong is scouring the NHL for just about everything. I don't know if they lack trust in Binnington. We're going to know pretty soon, though, because the teams starts playing back-to-backs again next week.
OK. Thanks for chipping in.
Well, now that all the defensemen are healthy, I'm not sure you want to go that way. How about a few games of Edmundson-Parayko; Gunnarsson-Pietrangelo Dunn-Bortuzzo and see how that goes? Up front, I'm not sure there's been any line other than whatever line O'Reilly's on that has shown much consistency. So I don't know who would get the extra minutes.
Well, if you view Pietrangelo as an asset who's just having an off-year, then you keep him and trade one of the other team leaders.
I'm not saying this is what will happen, but a lot of what you're saying sure makes sense to me.
So do the Preds need a defenseman?
I don't think it's happening. Not after signing an extension just over a year ago. And again, if the Blues continue down their current path for the rest of the season, I would expect some moves to be made.
By the way, all-star rosters are announced tonight. I would think O'Reilly would be the slam-dunk pick for the Blues. Don't you?
OK, we're going on 3 1/2 hours here. Last call for questions. Speak now or forever hold your peace. Until next Wednesday, that is.
Signing off for today. As always, thanks for playing. . . .