Why Fans Should Be Confident in this Season

 

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Two games in, Ryan O’Reilly has played as expected, winning faceoffs and assisting goals.

I will admit that, following the Blues’ 5-4 OT loss to the Blackhawks on Saturday, I was alarmed.

And I think many other fans were too. After all, the Blues lost their first two games of the season. Jake Allen surrendered way too many goals. The defense was atrocious. The only forward to have any goals so far is Vladimir Tarasenko. The first thought to cross my mind, and many others, is that these are the typical Blues who don’t do the hard work and hustle necessary to win hockey games.

But after a day to calm down, have some cofffee, and contemplate it further, we need to take comfort in the likely fact that the ship will be righted in due course.

There are 5 factors at play, and their resolution will go hand-in-hand with improved play from the Blues:

  1. The defensemen have been at less than full strength. Robert Bortuzzo did not play in the first game of the season due to being suspended during the preseason. And Joel Edmundson is recovering from a minor injury. Those 2 are very important pieces to the D-corps, and having both in the lineup will help Pietrangelo and his rearguard play better and consistently.
  2. There are a lot of new faces on the roster, 7 to be exact. That’s 1/3 of the roster, actually, and it could take time for everyone to play their part and make up the identity of the club. Sure, they’ve had the preseason games to do that, but preseason games are different from regular season games. NHL clubs don’t run out their full squads for any particular preseason game. Like the Blues, the other clubs use the games to play young kids like Thomas and Kyrou, to see if they can contribute during the regular season.
  3. The leaders will show the way. Alex Pietrangelo has been singled out for poor play, and he is very much aware of that, and that he needs to correct it. And he will. Ryan O’Reilly said that the team is playing to score, not executing the fundamentals and playing protectively through the neutral zone. I believe that the Captain and his alternates will hold the team accountable, especially after Coach Mike Yeo took them to task in his press conference.
  4. Believe it or not, the Blues have goalie depth on which to lean. Now, Jake Allen is the No. 1, through and through. But, winning is everything, and if Allen’s play does nto improve, provided he’s supported by offense and defense, then Coach Yeo will have no choice but to give Allen extended time off by playing Chad Johnson. Perhaps Doug Armstrong would even consider calling up Ville Husso for a start or two. It’s rare that an NHL club would carry a 3rd goalie, but you know what they say about desperate times….
  5. The individual Blues have a better track record than this. Ryan O’Reilly is a proven producer. And he’s showing that in just two games, winning faceoffs like crazy and showing his playmaking skill. Pietrangelo, Edmundson, and Parayko are good defenders who know how to protect against goals. Allen is capable of stellar netminding. We will see these elements come together and put wins in the “W” column.

With all these things to consider, it’s simply too early to make any real judgments about this team. Every team in the league will lose games they shouldn’t. Or play bad defense for a time. Or whose goalie will let in softies. Let’s not worry too much and see how the team responds to these first two games. #LGB.

 

 

 

Good Things Happen in Preseason Loss

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Goaltender Chad Johnson played well in the Blues’ first preseason game.

The St. Louis Blues played their first preseason game last night, in Dallas. They lost the game, but there were developments in many camp story lines that bode well for the regular season.

Continue reading “Good Things Happen in Preseason Loss”

What a Joy to be at Camp

Hockey is back, guys. I love this time of year. I went to Day 2 of training camp, at the newly-named Enterprise Center this morning. It was, in a word, joyous.

How great to have hockey back! It’s wonderful that the Blues put on the Open House event for their fans. It’s a great way to showcase the team and the venue. I’m sure it really helps ticket sales, too. Thousands of fans turned out, decked in jerseys of different vintages. I was impressed with how full the lower bowl was, almost game night-level. The whole arena was open to fans to sample different seats, get autographs from Blues alumni, browse the True Blue Authentic team store, and look at the renovations. And boy that Heritage jersey looks sharp.

The players skated with intensity in front of the crowd. I watched Group B practice and then skirmish against Group A. I came away with the following impressions:

  • Ryan O’Reilly looks good. He made crisp passes all morning, skated with speed, and won his opening faceoff against Brayden Schenn in the skirmish.
  • Zach Sanford is skating well, and showing strength. He held off a defender while skating with the puck in the offensive zone during the skirmish.
  • Colton Parayko took charge while on the ice, barking at his teammates while rush back in the defensive zone.
  • Pat Maroon seems like such a nice guy. He flashed smiles all over the ice, and looked with concern when a puck went over the netting at one point, to see if the fans were okay.
  • Chad Johnson’s mask is super sharp.

 

Check out some of the pics below. Wow I can’t wait for the season to start.  #LGB

 

 

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Group B at practice
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Group B heads off the ice. Ivan Barbashev is second in line.
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New goalie Chad Johnson

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Joel Edmundson skates during a drill
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Zach Sanford and Alex Pietrangelo battle along the boards during the skirmish.
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Group A v. Group B skirmish