(I don’t own these photos – I just make them better)
Let me sum up what could easily be the most boring deadline day ever: Rick Nash is still a Blue Jacket, Nashville paid too much for Gaustad, and sports writers across country (especially Canada) just wasted 12 hours of their lives.
The Blues lone deal from Saturday, Ben Bishop to the Senators for a 2nd Round Draft Pick, is fine. Bishop needs to get more NHL experience, and the goaltending situation in Ottawa lends well to that. But what’s important to the fans, the team and the organization is where we’ll be come April 10.
Currently, the Blues sit in the 4th spot of the West; just two points shy of division leader Detroit and four points ahead of 5th place Nashville. With 20 games left, including three bouts with Chicago and one with Detroit, the Blues have their work cut out for them. Key injuries to Alex Steen (concussion), Matt D’Agostini (concussion) and Jamie Langenbrunner (foot), as well as the recent loss of Kris Russell (concussion) continue to haunt the team. But are we OK with the healthy guys? Let’s break it down line by line.
Backes – Oshie – Perron
This trio can do some damage. Between the grit and grind of David Backes (18 G, 25 A) and the skilled paws of David Perron (12 G, 17 A), this isn’t the line goaltenders want to see. Plus, TJ Oshie (15 G, 26 A) has been in the zone this season, following a disappointing (and embarrassing) 2010-2011.
Sobotka – Berglund – McDonald
I’m going to call this the honey badger line. Unfairly maybe, because I have a minor obsession with Vladdy Sobotka (4 G, 14 A) and his agression, but Andy McDonald (3 G, 4 A) is not someone you can catch up to quickly. The biggest concern on this line lies with Patrik Berglund (13 G, 15 A). Not that his numbers are extremely disappointing, but for a guy of his size and skill, I expect more.
Porter – Arnott – Stewart
Another surprise for me this season has been Chris Porter (4 G, 3 A). This kid goes hard game after game, and has definitely earned his spot on the NHL Roster. Veteran Jason Arnott (13 G, 14 A) has been a strong force on and off the ice, while Chris Stewart (13 G, 11 A) still seems to be finding his place in the Blue Note uniform. Get this line to produce consistently and you’ll see a much higher goal differential.
Crombeen – Nichol – Reaves
Everyone has a tough line, but not everyone has a tough line who can move the puck. BJ Crombeen, Scott Nichol and Ryan Reaves have a combined 5 goals, 6 assists, and 180 penalty minutes. Not too shabby for a fourth line with an average TOI of nearly 8 minutes.
Onto the Defense…
Colaiacovo – Pietrangelo
Yes, Carlo Colaiacovo (2 G, 13 A) breaks easier than cheap glass, but Alex Pietrangelo (10 G, 24 A) is such a fabulous forward-minded defenseman that this pair is key.
Jackman – Shattenkirk
Barrett Jackman (1 G, 9 A) has taken Eric Brewer’s place as the season troll. How many times has he been the lone cause of a goal? Too many to count. But Kevin Shattenkirk (7 G, 20 A) is much stronger than his traded counterpart. (Sorry EJ fans.)
Cole – Polak
With Russell hurt, Ian Cole (1 G, 4 A) has stepped in at the point. I like the kid, but he clearly has some growing to do. Roman Polak (0 G, 11 A) however, is a BEAST. No wonder that guy wins the strength contest each year.
The goaltending story is one of honor and respect – the Jaroslav Halak – Brian Elliot team have come together for 12 shut outs and a goals against of .930. This is KEY – especially if the 4 – 5 matchup of St. Louis and Nashville occurs, considering the low-scoring of the past 6 match ups.
No, the Blues did not make moves at the deadline, but if the current, healthy team continues down their current path, the city of St. Louis may have more to watch then Baseball come mid-April and early May.
Although this is the month I cannot spell to save my life (seriously, I’m shocked my spell checker doesn’t pop up a box that says “Seriously, it’s not that hard.”), I’ve got some good things going this month that I must share.
1. DGB signs with Mizzou: OK – This just happened like 30 minutes ago, but it’s pretty awesome that my alma mater got the #1 recruit in the nation, Dorial Green-Beckham. That will be quite a way to start our first season in the SEC off!
2. Visiting Antique Archaeology in Nashville: Does anyone else watch American Pickers? These guys are hilarious, and they find the most interesting things throughout the country to sell at their stores in Iowa and Nashville. And lucky for me – I get to go to the Nashville store! I doubt we’ll come home with an Indian, but you can bet I’ll be proudly wearing my tee!
3. St. Louis Blues at Nashville Predators: This is the real reason we’re heading to Nashville this weekend. I’ve been to an away Cardinals game at Pittsburgh, but the rivalry wasn’t there. The Blues and Nashville have just one point separating them in the West. Plus, I’ve got a Backes jersey to wear (with cowboy boots – don’t judge) and a strange urge to hear “I like it, I love it.” But only once.
4. Super Bowl XVIII: If you’re thinking, “why does she care about the game?” You’re completely right – I don’t. But I do love the ads! The ones I’ve seen so far have been awesome, and I can’t wait for more.
5. Valentine’s Day! I know, I know. Completely cheesy, but I like it! Plus, I picked up a super cute dress from Express that I’m dying to wear.
So what are you looking forward to most in February? Any leap year babies? Hopefully it’s a great month for all!
The Blues, currently sitting at 4th Place in the West with 60 points, have had their best season to date in years. And folks, that’s not a fluke.
1. The coaching is there: Not discounting what Andy Murray and Davis Payne brought to the table, but Ken Hitchcock has truly been able to take the rains and get players to play. Halak has taken his spot back as the number one goaltender, while TJ Oshie has proven why he belongs on a top line – all with Hitchcock’s help. The early-season move was a bit unexpected, but could not have been placed at a more opportune time.
2. Home is where the heart is. The Blues have the best home record in the league at 19-3-3. That’s not a coincidence. Scottrade Center has become one of the more difficult rinks to play at, and with an ever expanding fan base (yes, even those bandwagoners), the team knows the 6th man will make a difference. That big blue bear helps, too.
3. The Central Division: Let’s not discount the fact that the Central division, with the exception of the Blue Jackets, is arguably the best division in the league. Seeing Detroit and Chicago six times a year is a challenge, as well as Vezina Trophy hopeful Pekka Rinne and the Predators. Unlike many college teams, no one can say the Blues have an “easy schedule” (14 back-to-back series this season).
4. We’re not afraid. You won’t meet another team that uses their size like St. Louis. From 6-3, 225lb. David Backes (who has it out for any man who’s ever stepped foot onto a Team Canada roster) to “5-10, 198lb” (talk about exaggeration…) Vladimir Sobotka, this is a team that knows how to play rough. The physical presence on the ice extends from forwards to defensemen, and (almost) always stays within the Shanaban rules.
5. It’s about damn time. The last playoff run the Blues had in 2001. The last cup appearance was in 1970 with Scotty Bowman as our head coach. This is a team that has been in a rebuilding phase for 5 years, and it’s time for the team to be built. This is a group of guys who want to win, and that determination will take them as far as they want to go. Hopefully, that will be at a parade on Market St.