Here we are. Six days of training camp. Three games. Two injuries. Ah yes, it's hockey season. The Blues are off today, their first off day of camp, so while they take a breather, let's dive in to the question pool.
I did watch the game last night. I don't know if that's a case of Perunovich being brittle. Sometimes body parts just get caught in positions they're not supposed to go, and it doesn't matter who you are, something is going to give. Armstrong and the team have a lot of expectations for Perunovich -- people in this chat routinely suggest trading Krug because he and Perunovich have the same skill set -- but the team also is at the point where they need to see something from him. "You can't make the club from the tub," as Armstrong said at the start of camp. We don't know yet the extent of the injury so we'll see if this one more installment in the so-far unfortunate career of Scott Perunovich.
I think Neighbours is going to make the team and be on the third line. I think he has a bigger skill set than Leivo does. From Berube yesterday on Neighbours: "He finds a way to get things done whatever way you want to shape it. He’s involved physically around the net and makes little plays all over the ice. He’s very highly competitive player." Which is not to say I don't think Leivo won't make the team or help if he did. The only way Neighbours doesn't make the team is if he has a terrible camp. So far he hasn't.
If the worst fears on Perunovich become a reality, all of a sudden Calle Rosen is the seventh defenseman and Steven Santini is in the wings. Kessel is a guy to watch, though he'll benefit from more AHL time. But his chance may not be too far away at the rate the Blues defensemen are getting hurt. Though also, the Blues are probably one injury away from looking to pick up someone off the waiver wire when teams start sending players down.
The Blues opening night forwards would look to be, assuming they carry 14: O'Reilly, Tarasenko, Schenn, Buchnevich, Saad, Kyrou, Thomas, Barbashev, Acciari, Walker, Brown, Neighbours, Kostin, Bolduc/Leivo. The question will be if there's room for Kostin when Toropchenko comes back. Because when Toropchenko comes back, he's playing.
The Blues are off today so we would get an update today only if it was something major, and even then they might wait until tomorrow. He had surgery earlier this year on his left wrist.
The fist couple of minutes for Zherenko, I thought he got quite the test and he handled it very well. May not have looked really fluid all the time, but he got the job done. I think Neighbours has looked good and I don't think O'Reilly or Kyrou will have any trouble developing chemistry with each other. O'Reilly is an instinctive player who should work well with Kyrou's improv skills. It may take a while to match the O'Reilly-Perron chemistry, but these two should work out well.
Back to hockey. (Though soccer questions are always welcome.)
If there's been a surprise, it's that the competition has been pretty good for the few available spots. No one has really played their way out of contention so far among the collection of spare forwards. And all the goalies have looked good so far for guys just starting the season. Leivo has probably made the best case for himself.
If the NHL was still playing the traditional form of All-Star Game, then yes. Having covered a few of those, thereby being obligated to watch, it was like hockey with all the best parts missing. The three-on-three gives a little flash, and the skills competition can be fun. They won't get rid of it because it provides a chance for everyone in the league to get together at midseason and have a party. Sponsors can have receptions and reward employees and show off stuff and feel like they're getting something for all the money they're giving the league. The game may go away every few years if the league gets its dream of an in-season World Cup tournament, where it can its best players in international competition and in the season, when they're in shape. But I don't think they'll want to do that every year, especially in Olympic years, so you're going to get 3 on 3 hockey for a while.
Berube himself said yesterday that what the O'Reilly line would look like would depend on what the other lines, especially the third line, looked like. I think the fourth line will be Walker, Acciari and Kostin (until Toropchenko gets back) and Thomas will play with Tarasenko and Buchnevich. Then it will be a question of whether Saad or Schenn is on the O'Reilly line, and whichever one isn't falls to the third line. And the other question there will be does Logan Brown play his way into the lineup, most likely as third line center. If that happens, then it gets complicated with Schenn/Sadd, Brown and Neighbours? That would force Barbashev onto the fourth line, probably at the expense of Kostin. Brown's early play has increased the likelihood of that situation, though Berube seemed pleased with the first half of Brown's game with Dallas, not quite as much with the second. "Got to play 60 minutes," he said.
Really hate to see family's airing their dirty laundry like this.
He's not a mean guy, though that doesn't mean he can't play a mean game. He's a hockey player, though I think if Lady Byng voters looked at how gentlemanly someone was rather than how few penalty minutes a guy had, Parayko would win every year. But I digress. He's not going to start running guys, if that's what you're looking for. He's still the best defensive defenseman the Blues have, and he was telling me he his back was feeling fine the first day of practice. Mikkola was praising the calming influence he has gotten from playing alongside Parayko, with his coolness in pressure situations. Parayko said the big thing defensively -- he said for the team, but by extension for him -- was aggressiveness. So he does want to be more aggressive this season, which may make him look meaner.
Hey, we're a little past the halfway point, but I'm running low on questions, so we actually might be a lot closer to the end. So welcome to all those who have jumped over the boards recently and if there's a question you have that hasn't already been addressed, the door is open.