Greetings one and all. It's a Blues chat on a game day in August. Here we go.
They toughened the slashing standard one or two seasons ago. (I've lost all track of time.) We went through a training camp with slashing calls every few minutes. Either players eventually figured it out or refs toned it down. Looks like we're going through that again now. And there was a certain inevitability that there would be more stick penalties in the early going as players were caught out of position and did things they shouldn't.
Canadians see it as a term of endearment. They're apparently cool with it.
Mike Milbury apparently walks alone on that one. Lots of players and coaches think 3 on 3 and shootouts are ridiculously non-hockey. Chance of them being adopted in postseason in less than zero.
I'll take Blues in six. Blues may well lose tonight, but they have shown they do a good job of learning from their mistakes. Tonight figures to be a step forward even if they lose. Ultimately, more depth and better defense than Vancouver.
I don't know that I would say Tarasenko is the problem. He is getting back up to speed after missing 10 months. That often takes time. That line has been relatively stagnant though. Are they pacing themselves too slowly? That's a group that needs to be strong on the forecheck. They also need to work together, which they haven't done in a long, long time. The problem, of course, is it's the playoffs, so they don't have much time. On the other hand, I don't know that there are any better options. Tarasenko at less than 100 percent is better than anybody else they could put in.
Another salad. And I'm eating Cheez-Its as a snack.
We won't know who's in or out until the team starts skating in warmups since practices are closed. The fact that Blais couldn't skate yesterday suggests him not playing today. If that's the case, I would think Berube goes with Kyrou in Blais' spot and keeps Brouwer on the fourth line. Having Brouwer there gives you the potential to move him up to the third line if Kyrou isn't showing as well as the coaches would like. Kyrou's speed could factor in, but he'll need to use it getting back on defense, not just on offense. The Blues never want games to turn into a track meet.
It is all relative, but he held his own in games when many of his teammates didn't. That's what Berube likes about him. You know what you're getting from him, and you'll get it most of the time. The postseason doesn't seem to faze him at all. And he's certainly well rested.
There's no update on Blais. Practices are closed in the bubble, and while some teams are making their coaches available to the media before the game, the Blues aren't one of them. So we won't know until pregame warmups. The fact that he's trying to get back out there indicates it's not a long-term thing. Berube called him day to day. So if he doesn't play tonight, that doesn't rule out Game 2 or beyond. If you don't see him in this series, it probably means it's either a short series or that the person who went in for him played great.
Avoiding Calgary is probably a good thing. They're the one lower-seed team that I think has the best chance of advancing. (And I'd have said that before last night.) Arizona would have also been a less-than-ideal matchup for the Blues.They seem to give the Blues trouble. I don't know how long Chicago could continue the run that got it through play-ins.
Since I'm not covering that game, or any games in Toronto, they are welcome to play as many as they want. Move that game to Edmonton and I would feel very different. It will now go at least two, with Boston having 24 seconds of power play to start the second. I can't rule out three.
Kyrou I would think is definitely a candidate to play tonight if Blais can't go. If Brouwer is not in on the fourth line, he would be a candidate as well, and the question for Berube would be Kyrou's speed vs. Brouwer's dependability and physicalness. You may not like the team's dependence on forechecking, but that's who they are and how they won a Cup and if Kyrou doesn't do that, he won't be playing. Again, Blues don't want a track meet, but if they can pick spots for some fast breakouts, Kyrou is your guy, especially if he's on a line with Thomas. But there will be a lot of shifts where the Blues can't do that, so Kyrou will have to be prepared to grind with the rest of them.
If they are uninspired tonight, he will not be happy. He's expecting they will be inspired. I expect them to be inspired, but the question is can they make the jump to being good from being not good in one game? If they can, happiness will prevail in the land.
I think you'll see a much more energetic team tonight. Brad Marchand of Boston said during the first intermission today that those games were pretty much exhibition games. The Blues know the playoffs are a long haul and were in no rush to get it going, and I think teams like Colorado and Vegas felt they had a point to make in those games and came out with a lot more enthusiasm. Despite what Berube was saying to them, the Blues were thinking, next Wednesday is what matters. Can they "flip the switch" in a couple days? I don't think it will be that easy, especially against a Vancouver team that is feeling awfully confident right now and was able to bury some playoff demons of their own. Which is why I wouldn't be surprised to see the Blues lose Game 1 but play better, and then start getting better results in Game 2.
Again, as long as it's not a game I'm covering, they're pretty cool. I wouldn't have minded a sixth last night. Once you go that far, what's another period?
Among the four of us that cover the Blues every day, myself, Jim Thomas, Lou Korac and Jeremy Rutherford, I'm the only one that doesn't wear a suit to cover games. I think I broke down and wore one for the Final last season, but not until then. So I'm not going to complain about anyone not wearing a suit and tie.