Hello again everybody. A lot going on. Bouweester press conference just finished a while ago, Vladi on the mend, and oh yeah, there's this race for the Central Division going on. We're at your service.
Well, it sure seemed that way last night. It really wasn't the case for the most part during the first four games of the current winning streak. But before that, back when the team was in a funk, it also seemed like an issue. Along with that, Binnington seemed to have some trouble with shots from distance and shots with traffic in front of the net. So much so that during Wednesday's optional practice, Binnington did a lot of work on shots from distance in traffic. The Blues had a dummy stationed in front of him and moved it around and shot at him from different angles. Later they had players standing near the crease in front of him trying to tip shots, knock in rebounds or take his eyes away from him. As to how the Blackhawks were able to continuously get bodies in front of Binnington, well, that's another question. A lot of it though has to do with extended zone time. It's hard to set up in front of the net if you don't have o-zone time. And for stretches of the game, the Blackhawks were doing just that.
I think the main takeaways from talking to him and others about him is that he's playing with confidence. He's had stretches of play this year and last where he's flashed his potential, but nothing as sustained as his current stretch. I think the Blues deserve credit for their patience with him and the coaches deserve credit for working with him continuously on his development. As for your second question, I think it's unclear where his ceiling's at. You can go all the way back to his late teens when he was playing junior hockey and he's never scored more than 17 goals in a season at any level. And he's got 15 now. So these are uncharted waters.
I was in Minnesota Sunday covering the Blues game, and watched the first half on TV before I had to head over to the rink. It looked like it was a tremendous atmosphere. The Kroenke Sucks chants could be heard loud and clear over the air. It had to be very therapeutic for the football fans of St. Louis to tailgate, watch an exciting game, and just have football back in the Dome. I don't know about filling the entire dome for LA _ you're talking 65,000. But maybe 40,000.
They've got to make room for Mikkola on the current roster. I think we all agree on that. I think if that happens and Petro's back, you're pretty well set. You've got 7 D-men and then maybe you're just looking for a depth guy, which shouldn't be tough to find. But if Petro goes, then yeah, you've got a little bit of an issue.
Very exciting. But you know how Berube feels about these type of games. Remember him after the Calgary game at the end of January. _ the 5-4 shootout win on Jan. 28? "I can't stand that hockey" he told me. He wasn't that unhappy about it last night. Perhaps at this point of the season and with the standings much tighter than they were at the end of January, he's happy to get the two points.
When's the last time the Blues have played overseas? Was it the 2009-10 season in Sweden? So it's been a while. Maybe the Blues are due for consideration in the next couple, three years. I haven't asked anyone on the team how they feel about this, but I think Stillman and Zimmerman are all about promoting the team and its brand. Id be surprised if they weren't all for it. And the beat writer wouldn't mind an overseas trip either.
I've asked Pietrangelo about it a few times over the course of the season, most recently during the all-star break. And I can't get much out of him. He hasn't tipped his hand. But I do know this. Not all players from the Toronto area want to play in the high-pressure, fishbowl-like existence that is the NHL in Toronto. Don't get me wrong _ I don't know if Pietrangelo thinks this way or not. But there are players who think that way. And there's also a matter of fit. By all accounts Pietrangelo has a great relationship with Berube; in fact, he has told me that Berube has helped his career flourish. And he's with a team that should be a Cup contender for at least the next few years. Why would you want to mess with that? But we'll see.
Great question. I think it's either Kyrou or Blais. And given that Blais has a little more experience and plays a physical style, Id have to say that it's Kyrou who sits. But I think wer'e at least three weeks away from seeing Tarasenko. So a lot could happen between now and then.
Yeah, certainly doesn't seem to have gotten the hype coming in as Thomas or Kyrou. But of course I wasn't around the Washington Capitals in 2013 when he was drafted, so I can't be sure. (I was, of course, covering bad St. Louis Rams football at that time.) I think the Blues coaches have always liked Sanford's size and hands _ they could see the potential. But I don't know where they saw his ceiling.
He's been on a little bit of a hot streak lately. He scored the game-winning goal in back-to-back games over the weekend. He has 12 goals and 15 assists in 42 games. The 12 goals are the most he's scored in San Antontio _ this is his third season _ and the 27 points is just one off his single season high for the Rampage.
Couldn't agree more. He seems positionally sound. Will occasionally jump in offensively, and has a decent shot. I don't think the Blues could have expected anything better, albeit in just 4 games. And he's got a little bit of sandpaper to his game.
I don't know if it was you that asked this question earlier, but I say it's either Kyrou or Blais. And Kyrou more likely to be the one that sits rather than Blais
Well, it looked like he was really heating up over his last several starts, then came last night's five goals allowed against Chicago. To his credit, Binnington was right back at it during Wednesday's optional practice, working on taking shots in traffic among other things. We all know that Binnington was one of the main reasons why the Blues got to where they did last year, and will be a key this year. I think he'll respond down the stretch.
I've had some tell me that he could be better in his lateral movement, which is why teams try to go backside on him. But it's not something that can't be fix. And it could be nothing more than working on strengthening the legs some in the offseason.
I think Gunnarsson excels in the so-called small areas. For example, being able to get the puck out of potential trouble down around the net. or escaping from puck battles in the corners. Personally, I think he's played a lot better since the time of the Scandella trade.
Surprisingly, not many questions today. Now's your chance to get in if you have anything on your mind.
The Blues have sent out some Battlehawks related tweets since the season started, and vice versa. But I don't know of any more plans beyond that. Maybe we'll start seeing some BattleHawks players at Enterprise here in the coming weeks.
Well, that assumes Scandella is back. Remember, he's a free agent after this season. What do you think about Mikkola-Parayko.
I do think they'be got a little bit of that swagger back.
It's the one, the only, Tyler Stewart. He'll occasionally serve as a practice goalie if Binnington or Allen is nicked up. And he's in the stands for each and every Blues home game. Just in case.