Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Despite the Blues’ bruises this season, they did finish with the sixth-most points in the NHL (60) in the regular season. Like LA last season, they are playing perhaps their strongest hockey heading into the playoffs, going 12-3 down the stretch.
“But you prove everything in the playoffs,” Hitchcock said. “For us to be effective, certain people have to play out of character. That’s what six or eight weeks of hockey is … playing out of character. For us, we just want a chance to prove ourselves.”
For the Blues to prove themselves, however, it means “accomplishing” more than winning just one game or one round, as they thought a year ago.
“I can’t tell you it’s not going to happen (again),” Backes said. “I think it’s something we have to prove by putting the effort in. The group in here has shown at times this year that we’ve got the resiliency and other times maybe we’ve got a little complacent. But winning should make you hungry for more winning, rather than thinking you’ve done something.”
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
- Dale Tallon’s status as executive of the year has taken a hit after a disastrous season in Florida. The catchy phrase “Red Rising” should be changed to “Seeing Red” after an embarrassing year. Signing winger Alexei Kovalev was the first mistake and veteran defenceman Ed Jovanovski didn’t work, either. Then, there was the whole fiasco involving Sean Bergenheim. The club refused to pay the injured forward, lost a grievance and then had to pay his full $2.75 million salary this season. While Tallon gained a reputation as being player-friendly, Florida may not be a desired destination among players anymore.
- Whispers out of St. Louis have players frustrated with the antics of coach Ken Hitchcock. It seems Hitchcock has the ear of players wherever he goes in the short term, but his constant picking apart and calling them out has gotten old. The team has performed far below expectations and is struggling to hang on to a playoff spot. Many league executives believe a quick exit could lead to changes for a team that is operating on a shoestring budget where ownership is counting on a deep playoff run to minimize losses.
more including notes on the Flyers, Coyotes Sabres, Luongo and Iginla...
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today that forward T.J. Oshie underwent a successful surgical procedure on his left ankle. The procedure was performed by Dr. Jeffery Johnson, Dr. Jeremy McCormick and Dr. Rick Wright at Washington University Orthopedic Center. Oshie, who was originally placed on Injured Reserve on April 2, is currently listed week-to-week.
Oshie, 26, has dressed in 30 games this season posting 20 points including seven goals and 13 assists to go along with 15 penalty minutes
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Winners of five straight and suddenly just two points out of fourth in the Western Conference, the Blues are peaking at the right time, with just 10 games to go in their regular season.
Reminds me so much of the way the Los Angeles Kings played survival hockey in the second half of last season; by the time the puck dropped in the playoffs, they were a hardened group and a dangerous foe.
"I think that ideology makes sense where you learn some great lessons during the regular season when going on a (losing) skid and finding out your true identity," Blues captain David Backes told ESPN.com Wednesday. "It doesn't mean your season is over. Where if you wait until the playoffs to have those experiences, you might be watching on TV before you have a chance to right the ship."
It's taken 38 games but the Blues appear to have righted the ship.
"We're starting to manage the game the right way," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We still have a whole other level offensively that we have to get to from a continuity standpoint. We still have to create more. But we're playing with a real spirit right now and a real energy. We just want to keep it up."
from Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Jaroslav Halak’s exasperating season came to a painful end. Once again, his elasticity failed him.
Maybe he will be able to play again by playoff time, maybe he won’t.
Maybe he still has a bright future with the Blues, maybe he doesn’t. His season -- and his career with the Blues – sits firmly in limbo.
Who knows what will become of him.
Now the Blues must rely on Brian Elliott and/or Jake Allen to step up and save this season. Allen starred earlier this season before suffering a bit of reality check that earned him a return ticket to the American Hockey League.
TSN confirms trade.
Reports are he is going to miss some time, Jake Allen will be recalled.
Calgary, AB – The Calgary Flames announced today that they have acquired St. Louis’ 2013 first round pick, defenseman Mark Cundari and goaltender Reto Berra in exchange for Jay Bouwmeester. In the event St. Louis does not qualify for the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Flames will receive St. Louis’ 4th round selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and the first round pick will be deferred to the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
Cundari, a native of Woodbridge, ON, is currently in his third professional season with Peoria of the AHL. In 56 games this season he has scored 7 goals and added 18 assists for 25 points while accumulating 80 penalty minutes. The 5’10”, 200 lb rearguard played four seasons with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL capturing back to back Memorial Cup championships in 2008-09 and 2009-10. The 22 year old was signed as free agent by St. Louis in 2010.
from Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
I bought the Blues early this season. I bought their enthusiasm, their momentum and their ability to say all the right things in the aftermath of the league’s damaging, almost suicidal lockout.
Long skeptical, I went Cup Crazy.
“Buying in” early, I hoped to get a good seat on the bandwagon. Who knew the possibilities? Maybe when the Belgian brewer brought the Clydesdales onto the Scottrade ice I could grab the seat next to the Dalmatian.
So having stated my credentials, allow me the first of many questions: What the Hull is going on here?
Something has happened to the grinding, up-and-coming, energetic Blues en route to a short-season Stanley Cup. The team that rolled up 109 points last season and won six of its first seven games this year has become a source of frustration, even intrigue. What team — its major pieces finally healthy — requires a contentious closed-door postgame meeting more than two-thirds into its abbreviated schedule?
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today the club has acquired defenseman Jordan Leopold from Buffalo in exchange for a 2nd round pick and a conditional 5th round pick in the 2013 Entry Draft.
Leopold, 32, has dressed in 24 games for Buffalo this season posting eight points including two goals and six assists to go along with 14 penalty minutes. Overall, the 6’1, 206-pound defenseman has appeared in 10 National Hockey League (NHL) seasons between Calgary, Colorado, Flordia, Pittsburgh and Buffalo accumulating 202 points (65 goals, 137 assists) and 268 penalty minutes in 610 career games.
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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