Hello again everybody. On to Round 2. Sorry for the slight delay. Blues practiced later today, pushing everything back a little. Nothing too earth shattering going on today at Enterprise. Everyone skated. Lines, pairings are the same as they were at end of Winnipeg series. What's on your mind?
The expectation is that is will be an afternoon start. I believe the times for Games 2-4 will be released after the Washington-Carolina game.
Yeah, that's a great question. Not only has Berube gotten the Blues into the playoffs, but he's gotten them into the second round. So why wait? It wouldn't surprise me if the Blues already have a gentleman's agreement in place and are just waiting until the playoffs are over to announce it. I almost feel silly still referring to him as "interim coach Craig Berube" in print. If you're Berube, why would you want to go elsewhere _ short of a huge pile of dough _ now that you've got this thing established in St. L.
T.T., always good to hear from you. Appreciate the dining tips. We don't have a ton of free time on these trips, but you gotta eat sometime, right? We're staying in the Market Center area _ any of these places near there?
I think Oquendo's pretty busy at the moment. But you're right. This shapes up as a series where dirty goals are even more important than usual.
In talking informally with several Blues players today _ and by informally, I mean not for print _ they all thought it shouldn't have been a penalty or at worst a minor. But some agreed that maybe Vegas should work on its PK. As for myself, I certainly don't think Pavelski was embellishing. The contact with Stastny probably led to the injury as much as anything. But again, that was a total meltdown by Vegas. You have a future Hall of Famer in goal, you're up by three goals _ just don't allow 4 power play goals.
Boy, did he flash a couple of times in Game 6 of the Winnipeg series and came close to scoring a couple of goals. His speed is noticeable. He also looked feisty, something that some of you Blues fans who watched him closely pre-knee issues told me was missing to a large degree this season.So yeah, maybe he's on the verge of a breakthrough, although given the limited amount of ice time on the fourth line, he may not have all that many opportunities.
Pretty early in the season. I think it may have been on a trip to Calgary, I asked him about being called Chief. He said he didn't mind. I asked him if his wife called him "Chief." He said he wasn't married. Then he paused and said, "But my girlfriend calls me Craig." I always try to refer to him as Craig, but I think every once in a while I'll slip into a Chief. And yeah, it would be great to have the opportunity to do a life & times story on Berube although I'm not sure our travel budget would allow it. I am very grateful that we do go to the expense of attending all road games _ preseason, regular season, playoffs.
The Blues had line rushes both today and Tuesday in practice, and Gunnarsson was with Pietrangelo both days on the first pairing. So, yeah, I think it's status quo _ at least at the start of the series _ with Gunnarsson in and Bortuzzo out. And Edmundson with Dunn on the third pairing.
One thing reporters root for is a good story. And given where the Blues were at the start of January, this is a heck of a story at this point. Personally, the Winnipeg series was my first experience covering the Stanley Cup playoffs and it was everything _ and maybe more _ than I imagined. When the Jets series was still up for grabs, I was telling myself: "I want another round of this." And here we are.
Wow, what a scouting report. Much appreciated!
You know, I think it's a little of both. Although I haven't had a chance to ask Bortuzzo about it. Remember, there were at least a couple of days at the end of the Winnipeg series where he wasn't skating.
The Tennessean newspaper (Nashville) did a story on this the year the Predators reached the Cup finals. There is a pool of money the NHL provides for playoff participants _ I believe it was $15 million that year, but varies from year-to-year. It gets split up according to how far the team advances in the playoffs. It was something like $290,000 (or about $11K, $12K per player) for teams eliminated in the opening round. And they share goes up by how far your team advances. Cup champion Pittsburgh got over $4.3 million to divvy up among its players that year. As for owners, their extra money comes in the form of extra revenue from ticket sales, concession, parking, etc. Not sure if you get any bigger share of the TV revenue if your team is in the playoffs.
When it was 2-0 Winnipeg early in Game 5 I'm sure you weren't the only Blues fan out on the ledge.
Oh, I think I deserve more credit than that. I do my best. to humanize these guys. One of my recurring goals is to try too make Berube smile. Early in the season, you may recall, I was the setup man for many of Binnington's best one-liners. "Do I look nervous?" That didn't happen by accident. I was the guy who brought the whole "Gloria" song thing to light when I asked Vince Dunn after the comeback victory over Florida on Feb. 5: "You guys win a big game and celebrate with disco music?" And give Tom Timmermann some credit here as well. He wrote an entire story on Christmas Day about hockey players losing teeth.
I myself love the unpredictability of the playoffs. I'd rather have that than a Final Four where there's always a Duke or North Carolina, or Kentucky in the mix.
If I'm not mistaken the Blues have a five-year arrangement with San Antonio. Funny you bring this up because San Antonio coach Drew Bannister was at Blues practice today and I talked a little with him about the season that was. Bannister is here coaching the Black Aces (the San Antonio callups) _ they skate after the Blues' regular practice. Once the Blues' season is done, I'd like to do a story on how things went in San Antonio this year.
Stranger things have happened. I once covered a football team that went 4-12 one year, then had it's starting QB suffer a season-ending injury in the next-to-last preseason game of the following year. Only to have a total no-name step in at QB and guide the team to the Super Bowl title.
During the height of the 11-game winning streak, I ran into Armstrong on an elevator on the road somewhere and said to him: "You're not so dumb any more, or you?" He smiled and replied: "It comes and it goes."