Greetings chat-lovers. And chat-likers. And chat-izens. And people who clicked on the link accidentally, then spilled something on their keyboard and can't move on to a different page. It's Game 4 of the conference semifinals today. It promises to be pivotal. And it promises to be a late night. Let's get started.
I think Kyrou can have an impact next season, though keep in mind he'll probably be getting third or fourth line ice time at the start, much like Thomas did, which will mean limited minutes. Thomas' ascent was a gradual one, and there's no reason Kyrou won't be the same, though Kyrou has the edge of having had more (but not a lot) of NHL time compared to Thomas, as well as a full season of AHL time. Mikkola, the big defenseman, will be the other player to watch. He had a great camp last season and is likely still another year away, but who knows?
I do. In the regular season that year, the Blues were sixth best at 21.5 percent, eventually losing to San Jose, which was third, at 22.5. Interestingly, the teams the Blues beat that season in the playoffs were second (Chicago) and fourth (Dallas). In the playoffs that season, the Blues were second best at 26.3, behind only Chicago, which went 31.6 percent. This time around, they were 10th in the regular season (21.1) and are 7th in the postseason at 21.4.
I wouldn't get too wound up about that. The Blues like Berube, Berube likes the Blues, and this is a team that is entering its window of being a pretty well stocked team. It's an ideal situation for a coach, and more appealing than, say, Buffalo. So unless someone opens Fort Knox for Berube, I think he'll be staying around.
Nothing they haven't tried before. They're putting Dunn on the first power play unit, moving Pietrangelo to the second. Quicker shots are what they need. The Blues seem averse to one-timers. Getting shots off, then let them get churned around in front of the net, or getting deflections in front, is how they're going to score. Or at least, that's how it seems so far. So if Dunn gets a shot off more quickly, that will help.
Alas, NHL rules say that anyone acquired after the trade deadline is ineligible to play the remainder of that season. And in any case, San Jose would be asking an awful lot in return, considering the contributions Couture makes.
Dallas' PK probably isn't as good as the numbers say, since Nashville's power play is so terrible that almost any team could have blanked them in the first round. The Blues power play was going well toward the end of the Winnipeg series, but the inability to win draws vs. Dallas is putting them in a hole. Zone entries have not been the Blues strength, so if they win the faceoff and it's already in, they're fine, but if they lose it and it goes down the ice, then the power play sometimes needs 45, 60 seconds or more to get set up. Once they get set up, there's usually some promise. So I guess I should have added this to the other question about changes to do better on the power play. Winning faceoffs is probably more important than any personnel move they can make.
I have to admit, I didn't think the Maroon signing was going to make a lot of difference on this team. For a long time, I looked pretty good on that, but lately, uh, I may have been wrong. His play, and the play of his line, has been instrumental to this team's success. And there was a point in this season where people thought Maroon was headed out the door, or at least was going to be a healthy scratch until the end of the season or at least the trade deadline. Now, he's instrumental to the team's success and you have to think the team is thinking about keeping him around next season. If you watched the first three months of the season, I don't know how you can't be surprised. He and Bouwmeester are the team's midseason change personified.
Doubtful, though the Blues might be more inclined to be physical with him. I don't know if he's had any previous warnings or fines about this. And I have an apology to make. On the podcast, I refereed to Lindell as being Swedish. He's Finnish. My bad. Dallas seems to have a thing for Finnish players.
I think it's as permanent as anything is in the NHL. As long as the Blues are winning, or playing well, Bortuzzo will stay in and Edmundson will be on the bench. But now if anyone slumps a bit, Berube has a hammer to wield. He'll have a pumped-up Edmundson ready to go in.
The lines and defensive pairings shown this morning are the same. Gunnarsson with Pietrangelo, Bouwmeester with Parayko and Dunn with Bortuzzo.
For whatever reason, playing with Gunnarsson seems to lift Pietrangelo's game. Whether it's Gunnarsson's stay-at-home tendencies that allow Pietrangelo to be more active offensively or his calmness that works well in pressure situations, he's helping. I still think there's only a very small chance he's back next season. It's too bad he didn't have the whole season healthy.
More five-on-five time by the teams would be a start. Since he's not on the PP or PK, he's going to be spending that time on the bench. And a two-goal lead would help too. If he's getting more ice time, it probably means the Blues are doing well. But he showed in Game 2 that if Berube wants to try something to give the offense a spark, he's up for the job. It bodes well for what Fabbri can do next season.
Game 2 wasn't great, but he was active and involved and making things happen in Game 3 and did everything but get involved in a goal. (He was plus-2 in the game.) I thought he might be dropped down for Game 3, but Berube stuck with him and certainly got results. It was a game where pucks and, as it's been all season, opposing elbows, kept finding Sundqvist. That guy takes a beating.
It's been said it's because of the struggles the team went through earlier in the season and what that did to their mindset. They've also had enough comebacks in the latter half of the season, and in the playoffs, that they at some level feel they're never out of it, unlike early in the season when they were waiting for the sky to fall on them. Another reason is they're a good team. They can score goals (admittedly in limited quantities). And Binnington keeps games close. He makes saves to keep 2-0 games from becoming 3-0 games, and 3-0 games are a lot tougher to come back in. So there's a bunch that goes into it. And some of it is just puck luck evening out. Early on, bounces went against them. Now they're not. At one point we were keeping track of opposing goals bouncing in off parts of Bouwmeester's body.
Neither? Both? I don't know that the local media as an entity views Pietrangelo as the Blues best defenseman. He and Parayko are pretty even, I'd say. While Pietrangelo and Gunnarsson are the "top pairing," it's Bouwmeester and Parayko that get the other team's top line. Pietrangelo and Parayko are 1-2 in ice time for the Blues in the playoffs -- Pietrangelo is at 24:55, Parayko at 22:30 -- and much of the difference is that Pietrangelo gets power-play time and Parayko doesn't. If you were just going by playing defense, Parayko probably has a slight edge.
Hard to pick against the Blue Jackets at this point, though you can probably find a place where I wrote, "Hard to pick against the Lightning at this point." Columbus seems to have it going in all departments. And a Columbus-Carolina conference final would just be weird. But Columbus is getting close to knocking off two of the best teams in the league in the playoffs.
I think there's enough to the rest of LIndell's game that it's not a distraction, that the Stars are happy to have him around and they remind Robert Bortuzzo of that fact.
I really don't know, but I would think that Jake Allen's mindset would be that he was going to do everything he could in the summer to come back and beat out Jordan Binnington. Asking for a trade would be admitting defeat.