Categories
Parks Picks sports

Top 5: Players to Watch in the Blues/Kings Series

After tonights game seven match ups (Florida & New Jersey, New York & Ottawa), we’ll have a full schedule for the Western Conference Semifinals, including the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings. This is going to be an incredibly well-matched series (although LA won the season series 3-1), and hockey fans should enjoy the fast pace, low scoring games that are bound to ensue. While watching (on CNBC, i’m sure), I’ve got a few guys to keep an eye out for:

1. Andy McDonald, 10, St. Louis: I think it was apparent in the first round against San Jose that little McDonald (listed as 5’11…yeah, right) has quite a bit of speed. Scoring 4 goals in the first round and racking up 8 points total to lead the team, I can’t see him slowing down anytime soon. Look for him to be one of few who can get something by Jonathan Quick. Speaking of…

2. Jonathan Quick, 32, Los Angeles: That Vezina nod wasn’t a fluke – 26-year-old Quick is here to stay. His 1.95 GAA may seem in like with the Blues tender tandem, but it was through 69 games (Jaroslav Halak played 46, Brian Elliot, 38). Not to mention, he just held the President’s Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks to 8 goals in 5 games, maintaining a 1.59 GAA. He’s not your average goalie.

3. Jeff Carter, 77, Los Angeles: After a deadline deal sent former Columbus Blue Jacket Carter to LA for Jack Johnson and a first-round pick, it was apparent that what Carter needed wasn’t a big contract, but a set of line mates to help push him (Mike Richards, Dwight King). It may not have been his best year (21 G, 13A), but he hasn’t had a chance to explode in the playoffs yet. He will.

4. Scott Nichol, 12, St. Louis: Go ahead, call me crazy. Nichol is not cut out to be a first line top scorer, and he knows that. Which is why he is so solid on the fourth line. Averaging 9:19 on ice time (mind you – he’s a fourth liner!), this little guy is not afraid to make big plays in the defensive end, and is not afraid to bring the puck down the ice, regardless of who he’s facing. Plus, he’s got a little mean streak in him!

5. Brian Elliot, 1, St. Louis: I’m a firm believer in going with the hot (and healthy) hand, which is what Elliot has. With Jake Allen on the bench for games 1 and 2, Elliot can truly shine against one of the leagues finest. Between him and Quick, you can rest assured that there will not be a similar situation to that in the Philadelphia Flyers/Pittsburg Penguins series.

Who are you most excited to see this series?

Categories
sports

St. Louis Blues: Looks Like We Made It

After a 3-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, the St. Louis Blues have become the first team to clinch a playoff berth with 100 points, which means it’s officially speculation time. Let’s venture out into some of the potential first round match ups the boys in blue may face.

Phoenix Coyotes (Currently in 7th)

I’m really not sure where I stand on a Blues/Yotes match up. As a child, I owned one of the crazy coyote jerseys. But this is not the team of my past. This will be the second straight year the Coyotes have joined the playoffs, losing to the Red Wings twice in quarterfinals. While they have scored more goals this season (191), the strength of goaltending on the Blues end will be huge. Plus, it’ll be fun to see what BizNasty says about our boys.

Colorado Avalanche (Currently in 8th)

Colorado could be a fun match up. To refresh your memory, the Blues and Avs made a monumental 2am trade before the deadline, sending Eric Johnson and Jay McClement to Denver for Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk. How’d that work you ask? Well, EJ has 4 goals and 20 assists against Shatty’s 9 goals and 28 assists. McClement (10 G, 6A) and Stewie (15 G, 13 A) have made a difference in the line up as well. Aside from the personal issues these teams have, we’ve got another goaltending mismatch, as Colorado’s net minders have allowed an additional 53 goals this season.

San Jose Sharks (Currently in 9th)

Please god, anyone but the Sharks. We’ve seen what Joe Thorton can do to this team, but this could end up being a repeat of the 1999-2000 season when the President’s Trophy-winning Blues were upset in the first round. The Sharks play an aggressive style of hockey that matches well with St. Louis. Their road record is barely above .500, but I never doubt their desire to win come playoff time.

Los Angeles Kings (Currently in 10th)

This could be the goaltending match old-time hockey fans long for. The Blues are the only team to have allowed less goals this season (158), and it’s clear that the mask is not the only thing that rocks about Jonathan Quick. Playoffs could bring along an outburst of goals from Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, along with leadership from Mike Richards and Simon Gagne. Plus, I like the idea of a ’67 expansion playoff.

Who do you want to see the Blues match up with? While you think, give this tune by Brookroyal a listen.

Categories
sports

St. Louis Blues: Deadline Day & What’s Left To Come

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.