What can the Blues do?

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Defenseman Colton Parayko is an asset the Blues may consider trading in order to shake up the team.

So the Blues fired their coach, Mike Yeo. Assistant coach Craig   is now in charge. Time will tell if the change will bear positive results on the ice. It did when the Blues dismissed Ken Hitchcock and went to Mike Yeo (albeit early, as the plan was for Hitch to retire and Yeo to take over the following season). NHL teams usually see a burst when they make coaching changes.

But the early results are not that encouraging. The Blues have only played three games since the firing, but they are 1-2 in those games. Last night’s game was atrocious – an 8-4 spanking by the Jets. Now granted, the Jets are one of the best teams in the Western Conference, so winning that game was a tough ask (really though, winning ANY game is a tough ask for the Blues these days). Even so, the Blues can and should be better than that box score.

Let’s assume the worst case scenario: The Blues continue their basement-level record for the next couple of months. What can Doug Armstrong do to send an even bigger message than firing Mike Yeo?

The answer is making a trade. Or more than one.

In the past coupe of off-seasons, the Blues have shed Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Kevin Shattenkirk, Paul Stastny, and Jori Lehtera. Other names have departed also. So you would think with that much turnover, that the inconsistent play and at times atrocious breakdowns would have been weeded out. But that’s not the case. So we can question the names that are still here and presumably maintaining a culture that does not value effort, or discipline, or playing a full 60.

Maybe Doug Armstrong should trade one (or more) of those names.

Let’s get specific. The names I’m thinking of are:

Colton Parayko, Alex Pietrangelo, Alex Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jake Allen, Joel Edmundson, Jay Bouwmeester

Now I’m not suggesting that all of those players be traded, or even that they should be traded. Tarasenko is the face of the franchise, and he’s not been especially guilty of the aforementioned problems the Blues have. But this group is the core right now, and trading one or more of that group would send a strong message that no one is safe and this type of play is unacceptable.

Of course, whenever you want to trade someone, there must be a willing trading partner. Some of the contracts are simply not movable right now. But Doug Armstrong has shown he can be creative. While he may not be able to move a Bouwmeester, he might find a suitor for a Parayko or Steen, given the right deal parameters. Steen has 2 more years at $5.75 million per year. That is pricey given his production, so the Blues might have to offset that salary some way. Parayko has 3 more years at $5.5 million per.

I’m reminded of the surprise blockbuster trade the Blues with the Avalanche to acquire Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart. It cost them an at-the-time core player, Erik Johnson. I would love to see another deal like that.

This season is a culmination of a style of play that plagues the Blues for years now. It has to end. I and so many other fans just want to see the players held accountable, and trading them away is really the only way to do that. They need to understand that this is not acceptable. The fans deserve better. Our city deserves better.




Around the League with Ex-Blues

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T.J. Oshie, perhaps the most-missed of all ex-Blues, has 14 points this season for the Capitals.

The St. Louis Blues certainly have their hands full in trying to bring consistency to their play, put wins (and points) together, and settle down the drama surrounding the team and the coach this season. I wanted to take a pause with that and see how some ex-Blues are doing so far this year.

Continue reading “Around the League with Ex-Blues”

4 Things We Learned from the Win against Toronto

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Zach Sanford has played well since being recalled from San Antonio

Blues fans all over sighed in relief as the team won, impressively, in Toronto on Saturday night.

The worst start to a season in decades has fans and the coaching staff concerned. An early record (before the Toronto game) of 1-3-2 is not reflective of the team on paper, at least. And it’s not what everyone expected, given the heightened expectations after an offseason full of change and optimism.

The team’s problems are well documented at this point. Defensive breakdowns, inconsistent energy levels, and blatant missed coverage are among the most prominent. But that all was put to bed, at least for one game. The great win in Toronto revealed four things to us:

  1. The Blues are capable of playing a solid, thorough game. They blocked more shots, won more faceoffs, put more shots on goal, and ultimately, outscored their opponent. They won despite the Leafs having a greater team CF% (Corsi For percentage, measuring on-ice events for or against).
  2. Jay Bouwmeester should not play top or even middle pairing minutes anymore. Well past his prime at 35, and slow, he has become a liability when logging lots of ice time. In the loss versus the Canadiens, Max Domi got past everyone to give the Habs an early 1-0 lead.  He couldn’t get back to defend against him, and even gave up skating all-out before the play was over. The younger defensemen are capable and have earned more ice time, and as St. Louis Game Time speculates, it’s his last season with the Blues.
  3. Zach Sanford can play in the NHL. While he missed pretty much all of training camp due to bereavement leave, he played well in San Antonio, with 2 goals in 4 games. He earned a call-up to replace Chris Thorburn, and it paid off with his 1st NHL goal of the season against Toronto. He has a quick, accurate shot.
  4. The Blues have enough depth that they don’t need Kyrou and Thomas around for the entire season. Robert Thomas is coming to the end of the 9-game period that the team has to decide whether to keep him all year or send him to juniors. With Sanford, Thorburn, and Soshnikov all viable 4th-line forwards, unless Thomas is head-and-shoulders better than those 3, he should be sent to juniors to continue his development.

So not only was it a win at the right time. The victory over Toronto developed storylines from early in the season that should aid Mike Yeo in massaging his club into a consistent winner. The defense should play well if A) everyone is healthy and B) the right players play the most minutes. Having Sanford healthy, and Fabbri on the way, means that the Blues don’t need Robert Thomas to stick around. And, perhaps most importantly, this win can only help the Blues get some of that swagger that Brayden Schenn referenced recently.  Winning produces swagger.