Kukla's Korner Hockey
via Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
While this season looks like an out-of-body experience for Alex Steen (20 goals and 32 points and plus 13), St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock says this is no one-off.
He’s the real thing, and the Blues have to resign him for, say, five years at between $5.5 million and $6 million a season. He’s UFA.
“Steen is the closest thing I’ve seen to Jere Lehtinen in the last 15 years,” said Hitchcock, who had the gifted winger Lehtinen on his 1999 Cup team in Dallas.
“He’s hard on every puck, he plays against the other team’s best players, kills penalties when we’re down two men with David Backes.”
He’s a prime Selke contender as best two-way forward.
from Michael Russo of the StarTribune,
This time, I really mean it. It seems every year for the past three, I write a column on this being the “Year of the St. Louis Blues.”
Turns out I was just ahead of the game — or completely wrong.
Two years ago, St. Louis’ 109-point season was spoiled in a sweep in the second round by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. The Kings again dispatched the Blues last season in a hard-fought 4 vs. 5 matchup in Round 1.
This year? Nobody’s beating the Big, Bad Blues.
At 18-4-3, they’re one of the best teams in the NHL, a well-balanced team from top to bottom with four lines that can be rolled, a deep defense corps of six and two great goaltenders in Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott.
Offensively, they rank second. Defensively, they rank fifth. Their power play stands atop the rest. Their home rink has been a place of dominance.
continued plus other hockey notes...
from Terry Frei of the Denver Post,
Roy's post-game news conference was unremarkable until he praised winger Patrick Bordeleau, the Avalanche enforcer who scored the only goal against the Blues, and used that as a jumping-off point to add: "You know what, I was very mad at the end because I have been jabbed by different coaches around the league, especially Hitchcock when he said that was junior stuff, talking to players, talking to the referees. But I saw a guy on the other side who was talking to players and then was also talking to the referee and got the referee (mad).
Seems to me that there's different rules for everybody in this league. I guess the old guys are allowed to do whatever they want and I guess us, because we are younger, we are not allowed to say anything. I am a little (mad) about that."
Did Roy say anything directly back to Hitchcock?
"I can't say that here, I'm sorry," said Roy.
Outside the visiting locker room, when Hitchcock was told of the gist of Roy's comments, the St. Louis coach responded: "Oh, give me a break. Tell Patrick to shut the (bleep) up." Then he asked if Roy had really said that, and repeated his suggestion.
more and below, you can watch Roy make his remarks.
Rask on the goal via the Boston Globe,
“I gave up that (the?) worst goal of my career probably there.”
The Bruins lost in the shootout 3-2 to the Blues.
from Bernie Miklasz of the Stl Louis Post-Dispatch,
I want to enjoy watching this Blues team. They deserve to be judged by what they’re doing instead of being lumped in with past disappointments.
Feel free to laugh at me later, but I believe this version of the Blues will ultimately prove to have more substance and quality than the recent Blues teams that raised hopes before deflating the party balloons.
This doesn’t mean I think the 2014 Blues will destroy all challengers to win the Stanley Cup. But I refuse to discount their chances by presuming failure up ahead. Why do that? Besides, the truth will emerge a few months from now, in what should be a brutally difficult Western Conference playoffs.
Wednesday I asked Blues GM Doug Armstrong why the current Blues should be viewed as more capable and trustworthy than their recent predecessors.
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Overall, Halak is 10-2-3, but he now owns a 2.48 GAA, which ranks 23rd in the NHL, and a .900 save percentage, which is 34th in the league.
The drop-off could have the Blues dealing with an array of thoughts as they prepare for a road matchup with the Buffalo Sabres at 6 tonight at the First Niagara Center.
Have the past three games, which includes a 7-3 win over Colorado, been a hiccup for Halak, or should there be reason to worry about relying on him as the starter on a club with Stanley Cup aspirations?
It all adds up to fascinating intrigue heading into tonight, when Halak goes up against the goalie who was speculated last summer to be his potential successor, Buffalo’s Ryan Miller.
The Sabres sit last in the NHL standings with a record of 5-16-1, but remarkably Miller has a .919 save percentage, good for 28th in the league.
Miller, 33, is in the final year of a five-year, $31.3 million contract with Buffalo, which may be inclined to move the netminder, who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Blues are believed to be one of the teams that inquired about Miller last offseason, but it appears that that ship has sailed.
from Jason Kay of The Hockey News,
According to reports, the Ottawa Senators yesterday had their worst-attended home game since 2004 when their afternoon 4-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets drew an announced crowd of 15,535.
The weak turnout comes on the heels of a piece by the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch that analyzes the downturn in seats sold at Canadian Tire Centre. The Sens, according to figures assembled by espn.com, rank 20th among the 30 NHL clubs in terms of percentage capacity, by far the lowest of the Canadian franchises....
Similarly, the St. Louis Blues’ attendance numbers are a red flag. THN’s pre-season pick to the win the Stanley Cup, the Blues have lost just once in regulation at home and have the league’s second best goal differential at plus-20 (behind only San Jose). They play a high-tempo, physical style that should engage spectators, yet they are averaging just 16,547 at Scottrade Center, filling the building to 86.4 percent capacity. That’s eighth-worst in the league. And they didn’t sell out any of their three playoff games last season.
Hmm, an Avalanche goalie having a problem with catching the puck...
from Adrian Dater of All Things Avs,
But this idiot also makes the following observations about the game tonight:
- Chris Stewart made a classless gesture after dropping the gloves with a 35-year-old defenseman and winning the fight, throwing his arms in the air. The Avs thought so too.
- Patrick Bordeleau was sent out on the ice by Patrick Roy later to see if Stewart wanted to drop the gloves with someone more his own size (and no, Sarich is not a small man, but not a heavyweight guy like Stewart), but the referees wouldn’t allow it. They gave Bordy a 10-minute misconduct. Now, I can see why this happened. The league is hyper-sensitive right now about staged fights and fighting in general, so they nipped this in the bud before something could happen. And I can respect that.
So, why did Bordy get another 10 minutes at the end of the game when Blues goon Ryan Reaves came on the ice to line up against him, to do the same thing? The referees weren’t good on that instance.
- Nov. 27 can’t come soon enough for me. The rematch with the Blues is going to be nasty at the Pepsi Center, count on it. A Patrick Roy-coached team is going to get even in the fight department, take it to the bank.
more and you can watch the "classless gesture" below...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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