Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Never mind all those harrowing one-goal victories Ken Hitchcock racked up after taking over as coach of the Blues.
That was just the warm-up act.
This team – the one that skated over the Canadiens 3-0 in Montreal Tuesday night – is the one the rest of the National Hockey League should fear.
Much has been written about this team’s impressive depth. Much has been written about the collective Blues commitment, effort and discipline.
But now we’re finally starting to see its high skill level emerge as well.
Goaltender Jaroslav Halak has made it all the way back from his October swoon. With the whole league watching closely, he shrugged off enormous homecoming pressure and blanked the Habs.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
The Professor passed away Tuesday and you can bet there were lots of smiles around the NHL at the thought of Ron Caron.
And not just because he picked the day of a game between his two most beloved teams, the Montreal Canadiens and St. Louis Blues, to take his leave.
You couldn’t help but smile at the former St. Louis Blues general manager even though seconds after he impressed you with his thoughtful, gentle nature it was just as likely you were convinced the man was possessed. No one could tear up a press box like Caron, who turned into a raging maniac as soon as the puck was dropped for a game featuring his Blues.
Everyone who’s been around the NHL for more than 15 years has a Ron Caron story. They called him The Professor for his hockey intellect and amazing knowledge of baseball, Caron’s second great passion, but it was his temper that forged his legend. And the distinctive sandpaper voice that broadcast his temper meant almost everyone did a Ron Caron impression.
from Dan O’Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
It was precisely at this time of year in 2011 when things went south for the Blues. They rode into January carrying a five-game winning surge and a 20-12-5 overall record, sitting fifth in the Western Conference. By the time the month was over, they were 22-20-7 and in 13th place, headed down a dead-end road. The 2-8-2 month, which included six home games, was their point of no return.
That was then, this is now. The current Blues started January with a record nearly identical — 21-12-5, good for fifth in the conference — to that of last year’s club. This January is particularly promising, one that features nine of 11 games at home. Home is where the heart of the Blues’ success has been.
They are 15-3-2 at the Scottrade Center and as of Wednesday, the Blues led the NHL in home points with 32. They were tied with Detroit for most home wins. In that context, January is a chance to make some hay. When the month is over, the Blues will conduct 20 of their remaining 31 games away from home, including sobering road trips of six and seven games in March.
January was a horror story in 2010-11. It needs to be “Chicken Soup for the Playoffs” this time.
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The NHL has terminated the purchase agreement held by Matthew Hulsizer in his pursuit of the Blues, opening the door for Tom Stillman to strike a deal, an NHL source has told the Post-Dispatch.
Hulsizer, who signed a purchase agreement in October, had until last Saturday to finalize the sale, but an NHL-imposed deadline passed without an agreement that was suitable to the league.
Brendan Shanahan explains the suspension.
Blues’ defenseman Ian Cole faces a disciplinary hearing Sunday for his illegal check to the head penalty on Red Wings’ forward Justin Abdelkader in the first period of Saturday’s game.
If you missed the hit, The Malik Report has all the videos…
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St, Louis Post-Dispatch,
The NHL-imposed deadline for the sale of the Blues to Matthew Hulsizer is less than 48 hours away and it’s unlikely, but still possible, that a deal will be completed in time according to multiple sources with knowledge of the process.
“It could go either way,” one source said.
Almost two months ago, the league gave Hulsizer until Dec. 31 to finalize the purchase. And despite sources’ claims that a closing had been imminent in recent weeks, nothing has materialized. The hang-up appears to be the ability of Hulsizer and Dave Checketts to provide sufficient equity and perhaps secure the necessary bank financing to guarantee the viability of the ownership group.
Make sure to catch the stick swing by Hartnell at the very end of the video.
from Norm Sanders of the News-Democrat,
As a veteran NHL coach, there aren’t too many things that surprise Ken Hitchcock any more when it comes to hockey.
After taking over the Blues last month, one of those rare surprises presented itself in the form of 6-foot, 225-pound defenseman Roman Polak.
“Polak for me is the biggest surprise,” said Hitchcock, who has marveled at Polak’s strength, superior skating and shut-down defender ability that eliminates scoring chances at a rapid rate. “I didn’t know much about him, but he’s a very, very strong player. He plays a very physical game than can really wear people out.”
Polak and the Blues begin a two-game road trip at 8:30 p.m. today in Colorado, then travel to Phoenix for a Friday game.
While the Blues are blessed with some top-flight young puck movers on defense in players like Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk and Ian Cole, there is plenty of room for gritty veterans like Polak and Barret Jackman.
from Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The Blues have defeated the Red Wings twice on coach Ken Hitchcock’s watch. These high-level victories validate this Note as an emerging power.
Believe it, people: The Blues have arrived.
“When you play Detroit, you decide you’re either all-in, because if you’re just a little bit in, they push you right out,” Hitchcock told reporters after the game. “The thing that has impressed me is that for two games now, we’ve had an all-in mentality and we’ve been competitive against them and that’s a really good sign.”
Indeed it is. The Blues are using their impressive blend of size and skill to dictate play. As they get healthier, they should only get better.
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com