Bobo's back after a few weeks away, so let's get to it.
The AHL guys were willing and able to play the forecheck/pressure game while taking no chances with the puck. Now the returning starters must embrace that same direct style. The Blues aren't good enough to skate up and down with superstars like Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid or Nathan MacKinnon. They must get into cohesive five-man units and play the system. When they do that, the depth of skill on this team will shine through.
Nathan Walker has been playing pro hockey in North America since 2013. In all of this time he has played in just 32 regular season NHL games. He has been on the waiver wire repeatedly. I believe your view of his ability is not widely shared by pro scouts.
Once both sides start losing money for real, then both sides will get serious about getting a new deal.
But . . . among the issues for Cuonzo Martin is his willingness, or lack thereof, to use the NIL path to get better players. In the current environment that will be a coaching prerequisite. The boosters need to dig deep, but the coaches have to be on board with that.
I'm sure that Armstrong would love to add another defensive-minded defenseman. Most contenders would. But right now he has no salary cap space to work with. Like most other GMs, he needs to see if any long-term injuries create need/cap space before the trade deadline. Like every other GM, he has no idea who will be available on his team to play on any given day. In theory the Blues have more depth up front than on the blue line, but that can change with injuries and COVID-19 protocols.
Berube has given Perunovich an appropriately sheltered role for his experience level -- mostly offensive zone starts plus some power-play time. Someday Perunovich could be as good as Krug or even better. But 18 games into his NHL career he's not quite there.
In a word, yes. Nothing has changed during the lockout. Lars Nootbaar will get a chance to earn at bats next season and so will Nolan Gorman. Rizzo is going to command multiple years at high dollars with no-trade protection. None of that makes sense for the Cardinals.
The goaltender interference challenge was a longshot, but maybe Berube could feel the game slipping away quickly and he figured that was his one shot to throw his team a life preserver.
The Cardinals have Wainwright, Flaherty, Hudson, Mikolas and Matz for the rotation. I'd like to see Reyes get a shot in a six-man rotation. A veteran starter/long reliever would be good insurance, but the more immediate need is for some left side hitting depth to protect the team if Gorman needs more developmental time.
Alabama. It's hard to pick against the Crimson Tide given the QB comparison.
Manfred has committed a number of PR blunders. This looks like another.
The players also like Marmol a lot, so lamenting the departure of Shildt could undermine Marmol.
Binnington made some highlight reel saves for sure. That is another reason why this team should feel pretty good as it nears the halfway point of its season.
Curbelo will get minutes for sure, perhaps more at the expense of versatile Da'Monte Williams. But the savvy Williams has helped the Illini run their offense fairly well without a pure point guard. Also, Curbelo will need to step up his defense to earn a lot of minutes for Brad Underwood. That was an issue for Curbelo coming into the season. Frazier has been tenacious on D. And Plummer . . . wow, all he does his score. He needs to play.
I have no problem with that rule. We were getting too many challenges and those stoppages were killing the game's flow. This is a good compromise. Make the coaches be certain.
Theo seems eager for a bigger role in Our National Pastime. There would be no bigger role than this. I haven't pondered this possibility, but I like it. Manfred has done a nice job making the machines run, but he is failing as the face of the industry,