Well, I haven't seen a whole lot because even when he's played, he hasn't played a whole lot. His last game before he started getting scratched -- and he is a healthy scratch -- he played 5:38. He's a banger and Berube has been going with three lines a lot lately, and Clifford just doesn't fit in with that. Berube said yesterday, "It's not his play. It's just one of those things .. .but he's an important guy on our team and we'll need him." Still, I wouldn't expect to see a whole lot of him the rest of the way. I'm not surprised by this at all. The Blues have an abundance of forwards and the easiest and most obvious guy to take out if you're trying to squeeze other guys in is the guy you're playing the least.
Looks like it could be at least one more game. He said today that if Parayko is in the lineup tonight, which will be a game-time decision, he'll go 11-7 to give the team some cover in case Parayko (or someone else) can't go the full game. To me, it seems that if that seventh defenseman is playing only five or six minutes, like Santini did on Monday, I'd just as soon have another forward around. But right now, with a lot of the defense hurting, it seems coverage, as well as superstition, is a factor in this.
No one in the league seems to have figured out about Ovechkin either and he's been standing in the exact same place for years. Teams design plays to get guys open, and if you have one guy just sitting on the other guy, you're turning it into a four on three and giving everyone else even more space. But certainly you have to be aware of where they're trying to get the puck and plan accordingly.
His history is with a previous regime, so that's not going to do any good. I think Buffalo would feel that's nowhere near enough return. And if I'm Buffalo, I'm not trading Eichel. But that's just me.
I'd have to check with Dan Caesar on the ins and outs of ratings, but my recollection is that they'd be working off of available households, namely those that have cable of some kind. The rating is the percentage of available households watching while the share is the percentage of TVs turned on at the moment. I'll ask Dan what he knows.
Sanford has admitted often that it's all a mind game with him, and when he can keep his focus high is when he does best. And that's a factor of his confidence. When he is scoring and producing, he's thinking about the game and then he produces some more. So it becomes a chicken and egg thing. They've got to get him to be focused to score and they've got to get him scoring to be focused. There's a chance he could be back in the lineup tonight. Usually once he gets going, he's fine, and the periods of good play now last longer than they used to. He could be well served by a stretch on an energy line where he gets to bang and feel good about that part of his game and playing the defensive side and then transitioning back into a more offensive role. Though if they're going to keep Bozak centering Schwartz and Tarasenko, he's not going to get on a top two line anyway.
I would expect you'll see Husso in the second half of back to backs and that's it, so three of the final 10 games. I don't see Binnington playing both sides unless he has a game with a very low workload. So if he gets a 20-shot game, then they can bring him back. Who can explain goalies? He's back to making big saves when needed and I think he's cut down on soft goals he'd like to have back. Whether that's focus or fundamentals or just how life works, I don't know.
At one point, he was ahead of others in the system, then he didn't do in the AHL and other jumped ahead of him. He turned his game around last season at San Antonio and jumped up the list. I think he can be a second pairing defenseman, and in the Parayko-less world, Berube used him there with Krug. Don't know if he'll be a shutdown guy, but his ability to transition the puck quickly and get it out of trouble and up the ice will serve him well. He still has to learn to be a bit more careful with the puck, but he's learning. He's the quickest skater in the back. If the Blues have a healthy D next season, he'll likely end up on the third pairing because Faulk, Krug, Scandella and Parayko will take the top four spots. The Blues have put him out there on the PK a lot, and even on some five-on-threes, so they believe in what he can do.
Was just looking at some numbers over at hockeyviz.com, and the Blues defense is 3% below the league average with Scandella on the ice, 11% below when he's not on the ice. The Blues are 1% below with Krug on the ice, 13% below without him. But the Blues are whoppingly better offensively with Krug on the ice. Seems you get more from Krug overall than you get from Scandella, plus he's a year younger. I'm sure the Kraken would be delighted to have Krug.
Among other reasons, I'd bet Chara didn't want to move to the West, where the travel is a lot worse. Chara pretty much picked his spot. But I think the Blues were looking at a long-term play rather than a short one, to solve a problem rather than punt for a season. Obviously, Hoffman is a short-term deal, but I think that's a very different situation.
I was waiting for Justin Faulk to try to run out the clock standing behind the net with the puck on Monday, but he only took about 15 seconds or so off it. Usually by that point, while players wait for everyone to get set after a line change, an opposing player has come up to confront you, so starting from a dead stop may put the puck carrying player at a disadvantage and it's easier to find a teammate who has been able to build up some speed or who has some more room to work with. But you still have to make that play properly.
At this point, yes, especially since I don't think backup goalie is a position where the Blues are going to want to invest a lot of money with the flat cap. Husso has gotten into his game a bit better though he obviously still has to come out sharper. Some hiccups were expected this season as Husso got his start in the NHL.
Avangard Omsk and Klim Kostin are KHL champions, beat CSKA Moscow 1-0 in Game 6 of the Gagarin Cup finals. Now we'll see how soon he can get here. The Blues have a visa waiting for him.
How seriously they kicked the tires, I don't know, but they certainly checked in on him. But Chara was almost guaranteed to stay with a team in the Northeast for travel purposes. Krug talked earlier this season about how much harder travel is in the West than it is in the East because of the travel. A lot more time spent on planes.
Especially with the fact that Anaheim will officially be out of the race by then, it would make sense to have his name announced more than just in a listing of the scratches. Put him in the starting lineup the first night and let him get a big ovation.
This was Armstrong's hope, that just like the 2019 team struggled and then figured it out late in the season, this team could do it too. I think they have a much higher hill to climb this time. By the end of 2019, they'd been playing well for a while and were pretty much even with the other teams in the division. This time, they are finding their game with less than a month to go and some of these other teams in the division are really, really good. But it's postseason hockey. Anything can happen. Your goalie gets hot and all of a sudden all sorts of things are possible. And there's not going to be an easy out in the division. Beat Colorado in the first round and you get Vegas or Minnesota in the second. Not possible to have an upset to make the path easier.
He won't get his number retired, but he was part of the team's identity changing into a winning, competitive club.