Pre-season predictions don't mean much to me. Some dude looking at last year's standings, looking at each team's off-seasons, trying to figure out who's going to win each conference... it's just opinion. It's even more fantastic when you're thinking about this season, which will probably be either lockout-shortened or just lost altogether.
Now, just because I said that I don't put a lot of stock in predictions (and power rankings) doesn't mean that I don't enjoy it when my team's ranked pretty well up there. Is it a jinx? Oh, probably so. But then again I'm a Blues fan and I've been conditioned to expect the gut punch at some point during the year. But isi it pretty fun when your team's picked to win the Western Conference? Yup.
The Hockey News hasn't released their predictions for first overall yet, but if you scroll through the other 14 teams on their list, you'll see one team missing from each conference. In the East it's the usual culprit, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The West? Your very own St. Louis Blues. My reaction? The usual Blues' fan mix of incredulity and "aw, yeah! We got recognized!" Of course, mixed in with that was a hint of "great, now our goaltenders' hips will explode and we'll finish last in the division." But still, it was more of the second of the bunch.
Still, the fact that THN picked the Blues is a bit of a mystery. The forwards didn't upgrade, but I guess they're counting on Chris Stewart actually playing this year and Andy McDonald and Alex Steen not being injured. Fair enough. Defense? Well, Colaiacovo's probably gone, so yay Ian Cole. Enjoy the big leagues. Goalies? Will Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott repeat last season or just regress to the mean? So many things about the Blues don't scream "Western Conference Champions," so either competition's weaker this year or The Hockey News is trolling every Central Division fanbase at once, including our own.
Of course, if the season's only half as long as it should be and the Blues get on a hot streak, then sure. Anything's possible.
BTW, here's exclusive footage of THN deciding their list. I'm sure that they had Detroit and Chicago in mind here.
So, it's August. There's a lockout looming around the corner, the Blues haven't done diddly squat, and hockey news is slim. This is the time of the year that I like the least, because I get to either do one of two things: not write because there's nothing to write on or I can pull stuff out of nowhere. I've done that a few times this week on St. Louis Game Time, so allow me to do so here.
For your viewing pleasure, here are some of the worst pieces of St. Louis Blues attire that I could find on the internet. It's sad, but the first two are actually team sanctioned. They're student night giveaways, and they're terrible.
First off, here's Teej:
And here's Petro:
Trendy. After the jump, more tackiness.
This is what passes for news in August. Seriously. The Stanley Cup was in Kirkwood, MO on Monday to presumably remind fans that the Kings plowed over the Blues in the Stanley Cup playoffs en route to their first franchise Cup. A "ha ha you don't have one and we do" moment, I suppose.
Actually, no. Former Blues video coach and former assistant coach (now with the Blackhawks, who seem to be stockpiling people the Blues have fired) with the LA Kings Jamie Kompon brought the Cup to the kids of the Kirkwood Youth Hockey Association. Even better? Proceeds of sales of pictures with the Cup raised $3200 for the Five Acres Animal Shelter. Says Kompon of his decision to bring the Cup to St. Louis:
"St. Louis is our home away from home," Kompon said. "My wife and I simultaneously said that we're definitely bringing the Cup to St. Louis. There was no questions, no discussion, it's coming here. We definitely want to give back to the place where we started. You never forget your roots."
Well, I guess rubbing it in is ok just this once.
Okay, I know that everybody is still hung up on who the better blues goaltender is: Jaroslav Halak or Brian Elliott. It's a valid question, but one that probably needs to be laid to rest seeing as how the Blues consider both of their goaltenders to be starters. Sure, there was the question mark of Elliott in the playoffs, but when you put a guy in to start six games in a row when he's never been under that kind of pressure before... come on. It won't end the way that you'd like for it to.
There was a reason for sustained questioning heading into last season, as Elliott had to fight for a spot coming into camp, and he had a terrible season the year before playing for Ottawa and Colorado (a 3.51 GAA and a .893 SV% is the opposite of good). I wasn't particularly happy about the signing, though I am glad that he proved me wrong. This season, there is still worry, but the phrase "regression to the mean" should mean nothing until the season starts. Chances are good that Elliott will slip a little bit, and it's to be expected. It's also expected for Halak, returning from a high ankle sprain, to not be as stellar as last season. Why? Because last season was a record setting year that will probably never be repeated. I hate being a negative nelly, but look at the stats. A 1.89 goals against a game? How do you even hope to improve on that?
That's not called being negative -- that's called being a realist. Another point of realism: last year showed that the Blues had two starting goaltenders. They're 1A and 1B. Halak gets paid the starter salary of $4,250,000. Elliott will be getting the (high) back-up salary of $1,700,000. There's your answer. Halak will probably start more games than Elliott. Hitchcock will continue riding the hot guy. He'll probably continue playing whoever manages a shutout in back-to-back games. He knows what the team needs, and what the team's doing.
The Blues have an excellent tandem, so can we please stop asking who the starter is?
Well, ok, not for Rick Nash himself, or the current situation he finds himself in as a new member of the New York Rangers. Heck, no moment of silence necessary for the Columbus Blue Jackets, since they got some good pieces back. No, Blues fans. I think everyone here knows what the moment of silence is for.
And probably more notably, this:
So, no chance to trot out the Oshie exploding Nash on a big hit .gifs six times a season. Now? Now we're limited to just one. Considering the fact that Nash's out of the Central now, however, I think the Oshie/Nash jokes are something most're willing to give up for the benefit of not dealing with him quite so much.
Image courtsey of Spectr17.
Take heart, Blues fans having a panic attack over whether or not the Blues' UFA/RFA dealings have been sufficient. The Central Division won't be the same next year... call it some fortuitous addition by subtraction for the Blues. Shea Weber signed a 14 year ginormous offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers last night, and if the Nashville Predators can't/won't match, then Weber's off to the Atlantic Division. This means quite a bit for the Central.
It means it's not the hardest division in the NHL anymore. Not just Weber's possible departure, but the whole damn summer. Here, witness:
- With Ryan Suter and Shea Weber no longer a part of the Nashville Predators, that might make it tougher for Rinne to constantly shut out the Blues 1-0 (note the word "might." I have full faith that Rinne can still do this). At the very least, it makes the Preds less of a threat to play against.
- The Blackhawks, while still a threat thanks to their firepower, have a goaltending tandem that's easily exploited.
- The Detroit Red Wings have lost Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart both (but hey, Kyle Quincey!) and they could also lose Tomas Holmstrom, who is a constant pain in St. Louis' ass. And oh, Jonas Gustavsson as backup. This has not been their best off-season in Hockey Town.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets will still be not very good, and might be not very good without Rick Nash.
So, there you go. Before anyone freaks out about how the Blues didn't throw insane amounts of cash at an UFA defenseman or how they lost out on Zach Parise (again, that wasn't going to happen anyway), here. Just look at the rest of the division. The Blues've basically maintained the status quo from a division winning team that finished third in the NHL. They'll probably continue the SQ by re-signing Carlo Colaiacovo, and Vladimir Tarasenko will be a blast to watch hopefully.
Calm down. The Blues might not've gotten better, but this isn't the Central of just a few seasons ago.
Cam Janssen needed to apologize for his comments on the Thom and Jeff Show. They were terribly unprofessional, and as I was explaining to someone on Twitter last night, when you're the representative of multi-million dollar businesses like the Devils and the NHL, you need to remember that everywhere you go. This, more so than the words said, is what bothered me. What he said though, wow. Hard to take back stuff like that. Good to see that he kind of didn't. From the Devils' website:
"Earlier this week, I participated in an internet-based radio show in which I used some poor judgment which I now regret. The New Jersey Devils were unaware of this interview, which I arranged myself.
"I would like to apologize for my poor choice of language. The tone of the interview was very casual and off-color, and I lost focus on what is and is not acceptable and professional. I am deeply sorry to anyone who was offended by my language. Moving forward, I hope to eliminate that type of language from my vocabulary. I would also like to take this chance to express my support for the work the You Can Play project is doing, and for the gay community in general.
"I apologize for the embarrassment my comments have caused to the New Jersey Devils management, as well as my teammates."
Ok, yes, that was probably more than likely motivated by the ire that the Devils felt. He mentioned that it was unprofessional, and yes it was. But Janssen doesn't apologize for what he said. He apologizes for how he said it. Granted he probably could have said "yeah, if I have something against a guy I'll use it out there" instead of "Oh, if he's sucking cock, he's getting his ass kicked." I also agree with Patrick Burke's stance that if you don't let Janssen learn from it it's doing no good. You don't learn lessons by being screamed at every time you goof, and the person doing the screaming isn't getting any brownie points either.
You know, I never really disliked Cam Janssen while he was on the Blues. Did I think some of his hits could have been a bit cleaner? Duh. Do I think that he's a meathead? Sure, but the sound clips that the Blues fans were treated to were those of the "lovable meathead" variety. Just a goofy guy playing hockey, right? Pride of Eureka, MO and all of that.
Is he a good hockey player? No. Did he always know his place? Sure, even if by default because there wasn't any room to not know it. He's not Ryan Reaves. He's not a fourth liner capable of creating chances. He has minimal hockey sense... and it appears that he has minimal sense, period.
From an interview with Thom and Jeff comes the Devils' enforcer's private thoughts on his role on the ice, amongst other things. It doesn't paint the best image.
Sadly, B.J. Crombeen's four year time in St. Louis has come to a conclusion. The Blues've dealt him to the Tampa Bay Lightning (along with a fifth round pick) for Tampa Bay's fourth-rounders in this and next year's draft. Beener might not've gotten the Blues much as far as a trade return goes, but he gave the fans in St. Louis something priceless - awesome facial expressions (also, if I need to give credit for any images, please shoot me a line and it shall be done).
This is one of those "better late than never" posts, I suppose. I've noticed this for a while and I've commented about it a few times on Twitter in the past month or so, but the synergy between the Blues and Cardinals, especially the FoxSports Midwest broadcasts, is something to behold.
Some folks disliked the fact that the Blues had the World Series Champion Cardinals honored at a game, with Tony LaRussa toting out the trophy and dropping the puck, and with constant mentions of the Cardinals players that were up in the box. The thing is, this wasn't just the Cardinals overshadowing the Blues on their home turf. A lot of the Blues players frequent Cardinals games, and vice versa (Chris Carpenter is in attendance at Blues games quite a bit).