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Glass Half Full
Looking back at last night’s game in Vancouver, a couple things come to mind. First of all, you cannot expect to win many games by scoring only two goals in the NHL. As of today (January 28, 2010 5pm) there are only two teams whom are in the playoff picture in their respective conferences that have a lower GPG (goals per game avg) than the St. Louis Blues. One is the Calgary Flames. Calgary took the northwest division by storm through the first several months and slowly tapered off. Anyone knows it’s only a matter of time before this giant wakes up. The Blues were lucky to catch them in the midst of this funk they’ve been in the past seven weeks. The other is the New York Rangers. When it comes to scoring, the Rangers are a one trick pony. If you follow this formula you’ll likely beat the Rangers;
Shut down Marion Gaborik + score more than one goal = win vs NYR.
With the exception of the Phoenix Coyotes (17th overall), do you know who the only other team that is not in the top 16 in the NHL in GPG yet is still in the playoff picture as it stands today (prior to the puck dropping on any games on January 28, 2010)? The New Jersey Devils. How Jaques Demers has been praised and given jobs and allowed to coach his clutch and grab sleepwalk put you to sleep style of hockey (especially in the post lockout NHL) is beyond me. In an upcoming article I’ll go into thorough detail about how Demers’ system of coaching nearly ruined the sport of hockey and led to the lockout.
Although scoring is sparse in Blues nation and fans (me included) are getting frustrated, the Blues are one of only five teams that have eight players with ten or more goals. Who else is in this club? The Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Washington Capitals, and Vanvouver Canucks.
Note: If Grier pops one in against Boston tomorrow night, the Sabres join the Octascorers club.
What’s the point of all of this? It is not essential to have a Crosby, Malkin, Datsyuk, or Lecavalier to win the Stanley Cup. Even if a major trade is not made or one of our players/prospects doesn’t start suddenly scoring at a rampant pace, there is no reason to panic in Blues nation. The Carolina Hurricanes team that won the cup in 06 was essentially a team with three second lines. Yes, Eric Staal was on that team, but he did not make or break that team in the same way that Malkin/Crosby or Getzlaf or Datsyuk were for their respective clubs.
Glass Half Empty
The Blues have got to move some of the dead weight on this roster. I’m talking about you Paul Kariya. The money that was spent on Paul Kariya needs to be going towards the scorer that Paul Kariya was paid to be but has never been. There’s about 11 points in the standings that are directly attributed to the Blues’ inability to tie or break a game open in the third or get that needed goal in overtime. If Kariya was even 2/3 of the player that SCP was paying him to be we’d be in 7th in the west. David Perron’s stick handling and ability to curl and drag is overshadowed by his defensive lapses, like last night’s gaffe at the blue line last night on Vancouver’s first goal. It’s easier to see why he was in and out of Andy Murray’s doghouse; more like often in it. As for team D, it’s really hard to be a knowledgeable hockey fan and watch Brewer and Jackman try to cover guys like Getzlaf, Perry, Penner, and the Sedins and not cringe when thinking that we basically gave away Chris Pronger for a 4th d’man who is paid like a 1st. I’m no Brewer basher, but he and Jackman are simply not number one d’men no matter how many minutes they play against top lines.
Last Night’s Game : Blues at Canucks
With his acting skills, H Sedin should play for the LA Kings and get side jobs in film. Kariya took two whacks at his mid section, possibly nicked his right hand, Sedin pulled his left hand up, the ref ten feet away points at him and told him “no call”, then the ref 65 feet away makes the call, Kariya goes to the box, and the Canucks score the game winning goal on the ensuing power play. I understand that complaining about officiating is as silly and moot as complaining about rent prices here in NYC, but the fact that the leagues leading scorer is acting like this in one of the leagues biggest markets is simply unacceptable. Crosby whined a bit his rookie year when he was 18. H Sedin is a tenth year pro.
As mentioned above, you can’t score two goals in the NHL and expect to win. The Blues’ inability to get a timely goal is frustrating. Personally, depending on what kind of mood I’m in (and the Blues’ current win streak) I would like to see the team make a fire sale and move Kariya, Tkachuk, Brewer, and Sydor for any combo of picks, prospects, young players, or simply by giving roster space to Junland, Strachan, Eller, and Armstrong. This team overachieved last year and keep in mind that the Blackhawks and Penguins were in the cellar for four to five years before blossoming into the teams they are today.
Tonight’s Game : Blues at Oilers
Like the Calgary game, we held on for a victory. With a lopsided shot margin in the third and a spectacular save by Mason (the puck was actually shot directly into his chest as he went to the wrong side), the Blues were lucky to come out of Edmonton with a win. I’m still waiting to see the Blues dominate a team for 60 minutes. I’ve seen moments of greatness but with a roster containing mostly core players under age 25, that is what is going to happen. I would not be surprised to see Steen get an offer sheet if he isn’t resigned by July 1. If I’m an Oiler fan, I’m pretty upset right now by not only the standings, but by the fact that 17 points in 32 games was waived in the form of Robert Schremp who is better than seven other current Oiler forwards in points.
About the Author
Written by Patrick McLellan