Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Damien Cox of The Spin,
Watching the San Jose Sharks going down in Game 3 to the St. Louis Blues on Monday night, a series that seems solidly in the control of the Blues, brought the situation of both clubs into sharp relief.
For the Blues, the window for winning a championship seems to be just opening. With their best youngsters just hitting their prime - Patrick Berglund was awesome in a 4-3 win in Game 3, the Blues’ first road playoff win in nine years - its not hard to forecast the best days are ahead for the club. If Alex Pietrangelo becomes the star on defence many are suggesting he will be, all the elements may be there for St. Louis’ first Cup in the near future.
For the Sharks, a strong NHL outfit for a decade that still hasn’t been able to get to a Stanley Cup final, the window looks to be closing. Joe Thornton is 32, Patrick Marleau will be 33 when next season begins (if it begins) and Dan Boyle will soon turn 36.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
“A lot of the series [are in] borderline chaos right now,’’ Sharks coach Todd McLellan said after his team’s morning skate.
And why is that?
“I don’t know, I don’t have an answer for it,” he said. “The other series, we’re all watching them because we’re hockey people and we get excited by the playoffs, but it’s amazing what’s going on right now. Maybe some of the messages will be delivered today [by the NHL] and everyone will reel it in a little bit. But high stakes, high emotions, competitive players, many that are crossing the line.’’
Hitchcock had a slightly different view.
“I don’t agree with that, I think organized chaos would be better (way to put it),’’ said the Blues coach. “I know it doesn’t look organized to you, but it is. This is why the players play. This is what happens when you have a lot of young players in the league. It’s very emotional, it’s very intense. ...
from David Pollak of Working the Corners at the Mercury News,
Sharks coach Todd McLellan hinted that there might be some lineup changes coming for Game 3. But of course he wasn’t about to signal what they might be.
Any alterations, though, likely would be about getting a bigger team on the ice to confront the Blues’ physical play. Obviously among McLellan’s options are Michal Handzus, Brad Winchester and Colin White.
“We have to look at some of the players who we haven’t used yet to see if they’ll make a significant difference,” McLellan said. “We have some size there. But when you give up a little speed for size, the game tempo changes.”
Center Dominic Moore is another player that McLellan also will have available. Moore’s broken nose was badly swollen Sunday after taking a punch from the Blues’ Vladimir Sobotka the night before. But Moore skated at practice Sunday and said he’s ready to play.
more on game 3 plus if you missed the punch from Sobotka on Moore, scroll to the :45 second mark of the video below, Moore is the guy laying flat on his back on the ice, while Sobotka is winding up his right hand…
NHL announced Halak will not return.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic clears the puck in to his own net.
In case you were wondering, Dan Boyle was on the ice.
Blues lead 1-0 at the end of one periond.
added 9:09pm, Below is the Blues broadcast team with the call…
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today the club has recalled goaltender Jake Allen under emergency conditions from the Blues’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen.
Brian Elliott is day-to-day with an upper body injury.
One statement from Ken Hitchcock after the Blues lost to the Coyotes 4-1 tonight, their 4th loss in a row.
added 11:54pm, from Norm Sanders of the News-Democrat,
“There’s no more talking now,” Backes said. “We’re at Game 82 tomorrow, let’s go out there and do what we know we have to do. Either we commit to this team game the way we have to be successful, or we’re going to be talking like this in more scrums.
“We’ve got one game tomorrow to wrap it up and then we’re playing for keeps with a clean slate in the playoffs.”
Backes was asked if the Blues’ clinching a playoff spot so early took a bit of steam from the team’s stretch run. Another question centered around sending a message Friday to the Coyotes, a potential playoff opponent.
“If there was, we didn’t send it very well,” Backes said. “I think the message was sent that they have life if they’re playing us and we need to reestablish our dominance.
from Pat Borzi of the New York Times,
More than 20 years ago, before winning a Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999 and amassing close to 600 victories, Hitchcock coached major junior hockey in Kamloops, British Columbia. After Columbus fired him, Hitchcock spent a year and a half as an N.H.L. scout and minor league consultant for the Blue Jackets. In that time, he studied the makeup of prospects and young professionals.
“The thing that stuck out in my mind, this is junior hockey played by professional athletes,” Hitchcock said last week outside the St. Louis dressing room. “They have the same fun-loving disposition about them. Attention span is short. They’re a little bit older. They’ve got a little bit more money. But they’re still kids. So that has been my attitude every day: how would I coach back in the ’80s?”
To adjust, Hitchcock scaled back his overbearing manner. He yelled less and instructed more. He relied on veterans like the captain David Backes and the alternate captain Jamie Langenbrunner, who played for Hitchcock in Dallas and in the minors, to spread his message. And when Hitchcock criticized a young player or adjusted his role, he offered a suggestion for improvement.
The results? Though lacking a superstar, the Blues surged behind strong checking, brutally efficient special teams — all Hitchcock trademarks — and record-setting goaltending.
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
With the return Saturday of Andy McDonald, Matt D’Agostini and Roman Polak, the Blues will have their entire roster healthy and available for the first time since March 3, 2010 - a span of 160 games.
“I was in the middle of one of the drills (at Friday’s practice) ... we were doing 5 on 5 and it seemed like every line was battling with every line,” Blues forward T.J. Oshie said. “It wasn’t one line dominating another. I looked over at (Carlo Colaiacovo) and I said, ‘We’ve got a really deep team when everybody is out here.’
“You look at the guys that are sitting out, guys that have been impact players and have been key role players during the season when guys have been hurt ...they’re the (extra) guys right now. It just shows the work that management did in the summer. It’s a great feeling having everyone out there on the ice.”
more on the Blues…
ST. LOUIS – With a 3-0 victory over Nashville Tuesday night at Scottrade Center, the Blues set a new franchise record with their 30th home win of the season, surpassing the previous mark (29) set by the 1980-81 team. The Blues also tied a modern era (since 1967-68) NHL record with their 15th shutout overall this season and set a new team record for consecutive shutout minutes. In addition, Brian Elliott set a new single-season Blues record with his ninth shutout of the year as well as set a new personal best and Blues record for consecutive shutout minutes. Elliott also tied a Blues record for most consecutive shutout games with his third in a row.
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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