Tag: St.Louis Blues

St. Louis Blues G Jordan Binnington The New Andrew Hammond (Aka Hamburglar)?

Jordan Binnington, the 25-year-old, 2011 3rd round pick has been quite the story this season. Binnington came onto the Blues this season when the Blues were in last place and looking to be a guaranteed top-5 draft pick for this years NHL draft.

Well, the one thing the Blues lacked was goaltending and it played a major role in their failures in the early part of the season. Along came Jordan Binnington. Much like the Ottawa Senators and Andrew Hammond aka “The Hamburglar” when he took the league by storm from mid-February to early April in 2015. Hammond was one of the hottest goalies in the league and completely changed the fate of the Senators season during his run. During his run when the Senators had Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner sidelined, Hammond posted a 20-1-2 record, 1.79 goals-against average and .941 save percentage. Hammond propelled the Senators into the playoffs placing them fourth in the division that year but they eventually lost to Montreal 4-2 in the first round.

Well, it seems Jordan Binnington is on that same type of run. Right now Binnington is 15-2-0 with a 1.61 goals against, .936 save percentage in 18 games started. He earned NHL star of the week accolades just two weeks ago and just earned Rookie of the Month for February.

But, I don’t think the Blues want Binnington to be the next “Hamburglar”. After Hammond had his famed season he went onto post a 7-11-4 record with a 2.65 GAA and .914 save percentage the following season. And since his 2014-15 storied season he has played in 26 games total.

Either way Binnington has helped shoot the Blues back into playoff contention, in the top three in the difficult Central division and now a legitimate playoff team that many will over look. Binnington continues his unbelievable season, he has lost 1 game in the last month and 12 starts. Following his first lost of the season on Jan. 21, Binnington went to win the next nine games he played in. Binnington seems to show an uncanny amount of confidence in net and with the media after and before games. The 25-year-old phenomenon continues to impress and hopefully for the Blues he is not just a one hit wonder.

Jordan Binnington And Dylan Strome Earn NHL Stars Of The Week

The NHL releases three stars of every week and this week it happened to consist of two “unlikely” names per say. The first star was Jordan Binnington the rookie sensation in St. Louis who has surged the St. Louis Blues to a seven-game win streak and a wild card spot. Star number three was Dylan Strome the Chicago Blackhawks center, who was sent to Chicago from Arizona for Nick Schmaltz.

Binnington earns 1st star of the week 

The reason this is being reported is because it is awesome news for these two guys. First off Jordan Binnington was drafted in 2011 3rd round, 87th overall never made his way up the NHL ladder and from 2011-2018 until he was called up he spent all of his time (besides one year when he played in ECHL for the Kalamazoo in 2013-14) in the AHL, emerging as a starter in 2014-15 in the AHL and at 26-years-old Binnington finally got his shot in the NHL this season when the Blues needed some resurgence at the goaltending spot.

Binnington has started in 11 games this season with a record of 9-1-1, a 1.77 goals against (GAA), .929 save percentage and 2 shutouts in his time so far. In his last five games he has five wins, most notable win coming in shutout fashion vs the best team in the NHL (Tampa Bay), allowing seven goals in those five games. All the talk about Carter Hart and his resurrection of Philadelphia is over shadowing what this kid Binnington has done for the Blues.

Strome earns third star of the week

Dylan Strome another young player who has had his fair share of difficult stretches finally gets a chance in Chicago and has been lights out since coming to Chicago. It doesn’t hurt playing the power play with Patrick Kane and some 5 on 5 time with Kane, Jonathan Toews and Alex Debrincat, nevertheless Strome has been a major reason the Blackhawks are back in playoff contention. Since his arrival to Chicago Strome has recorded 11 goals and 19 assists, 30 points in 32 games. During his 32 games in Chicago the longest Strome has gone without a point has been three-games so far. The kid has been on fire and earned himself third star of the week (this week) recording 2 goals and 5 assists in three games.

Strome was drafted in 2015 1st round 3rd overall by the Coyotes after playing the 2015-16 season in the OHL recording 111 points in 56 games (37G, 74A) Strome headed to the NHL in 2016-17 where he only played seven games. In 2017-18 he played 50 games in the AHL and 21 games in the NHL recording 9 points that year. At the start of this season the Coyotes expected him to be a number two, borderline number three center, Strome played 20 games with Arizona recording 6 points and -10 rating before being shipped out to Chicago. The Coyotes essentially gave up on Strome after just 48 games. They did receive Nick Schmaltz in return but it was still a very questionable decision by Arizona and Strome is surely making them regret it now as he continues to roll in Chicago.

The Wild Card Race In The Western Conference Is A Joke

I tried to make this sound as polite as possible but what a disaster this Western Conference wild card race has been. It goes to show one of the many reasons that the last three Stanley Cup winners has come from the Eastern Conference but also this could mean that maybe these teams a top the Western Conference are not that good. But back to the main point of this article.

How can a conference have a wild card race like this, a team that is basically below .500 is in the run for the wild card right now. A team that was once 16 points out of a spot is in the run for a wild card and in the last wild card spot (Blues). I am just completely blown away by the fact that at this point in the season, 52 games in 63 percent of the season played we still have no idea what is going to happen in the Western Conference wild card.

The current wild card layout is as follows: 

Minnesota Wild (26-23-5) 57 points (1st wild card spot)

St. Louis Blues (25-22-5) 55 points (2nd wild card spot)

Vancouver Canucks (24-24-7) 55 points

Colorado Avalanche (22-22-9) 53 points

Edmonton Oilers (24-25-5) 53 points

Chicago Blackhawks (22-24-9) 53 points

The fact the Edmonton Oilers are two points out of a wild card spot is embarrassing, they have won 6 of their last 15 games a record of 6-9 in the last 15 makes you a playoff team I guess now.

The Canucks who have won 4 of their last 14 games, a 4-10 record is a playoff contending team. Just looking at this race it is a complete disaster, any team can squeak in at this point so if you are a gambling man just throw money on all six teams to make the playoffs you’ll probably walk away with some money at this point. Not to mention the Ducks who have won TWO games in their last seven and a half weeks and have been outscored 31-6 are four points out of a wild card spot. Argument closed.

The reason this race for the wild card in the West irks me a little is because any of these teams that get into the first round are going to get bounced in four to five games. Which honestly just kills NHL viewership, ratings and the growth of the game in a sense. If you are not a die hard NHL fan there is not a chance in h double hockey sticks you are watching a Blues-Flames playoff matchup.

Can anyone else shed some light here? MY prediction is that the Canucks and Blues sneak into the playoffs. Or should I say those are the two teams I would like to see make it.

What do the St. Louis Blues do? Rebuild or Push Ahead?

The Blues regulation loss to the New York Islanders Saturday night makes it now their 19th loss of 39 games. They currently sit 7th in the Central division and 12 points out of a wild card spot. The Blues did not anticipate a season like this and Saturday nights lost to the Islanders is a perfect example of (1) how “unlucky” this team has been (2) the lack of will, and depth scoring this team has and (3) failure to capitalize on leads. The Blues lost last night leaves them with a lot of questions to answer. With the Islanders only managing 14 shots on goal the WHOLE game the Blues still lost 4-3 in regulation. Therefore we must ask what are the Blues options right now?

  1. Push ahead, say whatever, we wash this season away and get back after it next season. Realistically the Blues have no chance of making the playoffs right now and in the off-season they signed Patrick Maroon, David Perron, Tyler Bozak and still have Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn on longer-term contracts as well. The Blues can just continue to play, be competitive and try to win the most games they can because losing out is never something a team wants to do. Especially a team with as much talent and success as the Blues have had in the past. The Blues traded away their 1st round pick this summer for Ryan O’Reilly therefore their picks this year if they do not have this 2019 1st rounder (explain later) would be a 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th round.
  2. Tank, try to finish within a top-10 2019 first round draft pick spot. This would be the Blues best option realistically, the conditions on the trade for O’Reilly earlier this summer was “if the Blues finish within a top-10 draft pick spot they have the option to keep the pick and give the Sabres their 2020 first round pick.” Therefore, Blues lose, who cares you are already 29 of 31 right now, it makes no sense to win.
  3. Trade Vladimir Tarasenko, get two first round picks for this 2019 draft year (assuming they keep their 2019 this year), I will say the term rebuild loosely but “rebuild” on the fly and get a good return for Tarasenko. The Blues end up doing this, they will definitely get a first rounder from a desperate playoff team, a mid-level prospect and potential bottom-9/top-6 forward. This seems like the second best option.
  4. Get Jake Allen out of net, and out of St. Louis and try to find a #1 goaltender. The Blues have been to the playoffs numerous times now in the last ten years and each time they have failed to convert. Partially, not the only reason but some of it is because they lack goaltending. I would say get rid of Allen and try to find someone like a Petr Mrazek that could potentially be a solid goaltender but really anything is better than Allen right now. The Blues have two prospect goalies, Ville Husso and Evan Fitzpatrick. Husso who is not playing well in the AHL right now but has put up decent numbers in his pervious two AHL season and International play. Fitzpatrick who has not put up great numbers in the ECHL this season nor the QMJHL his previous season but is a 2016 second rounder.

The Blues in my opinion, I may not watch the Blues a ton but still watching them enough to realize they do not have the goaltending to get the job done, their scoring depth is too inconsistent and Tarasenko is playing on the third line. It seems the Blues should just turn the page to 2019-2020 already and start looking at what they can do to be the best team for the start of next season.

NHL News; Will the Devils, Blues, Vegas and Florida stay at the bottom of the pack all year?

I figured this would be a great time to freak some Devils, Blues, Vegas and Florida fans out, upset, anger and annoy them with a great article! Seriously though, what is going on with the Golden Knights, Panthers and Blues? The Devils I am giving a half pass because they have played 2-3 less games then some teams but either way they just lost to Ottawa 7-3, not a good look.

(26) New Jersey Devils: 6-6-1; 13 points

New Jersey Devils 2018-19 season startVery early in the year and the Devils just played a back to back but it is not a start many Devil fans would like to see especially since they came storming out the gate 4-0-1 and have since as you can tell cooled off. The Devils had a miraculous year last season, a surprise season for many fans. But, now since they have been successful they are expected to do the same thing again. Should we expect that from them though? Apart from their top line of Palmieri-Hischier-Hall they do not have a lot of scoring depth those three produce around 85% of the teams points and lead team in scoring. After those three’s 16, 15 and 12 point totals the next in line is Travis Zajac with 10 points who honestly we can be realistic here will be good for 40 points at most. After that is Demon Severson and Will Butcher with 8 points, Brian Boyle with 7 points(3 coming the other night), Sami Vatanen with 7 points and Blake Coleman with 5 points. Therefore out of these top guys, four forwards clearly do the heavy lifting, three defenseman chip in every once in a while and then after that there is a dramatic fall off. Not to mention Will Butcher has 7 power play points of his 8 points, therefore 5 on 5 Butcher is nearly irrelevant besides playing defensively. So, unless the Devils bank on 2-3 power plays a game Butcher is not good for much production. Hall will have to produce 90+ again, Palmieri will need to continue on this trend while his career high is 57 points, Hischier will need to also break his last season total and be in the 60 point range. Keith Kinkaid will need to continue his unbelievable play, there is a lot of moving parts here for this Devils team but there is also a lot of what ifs. They play in a relatively weaker Metropolitan division therefore it should not be too hard for the team, but I could see the Devils missing the playoffs this season.

(27) St. Louis Blues: 5-5-3; 13 points

The Blues certainly had different expectations for this season, after acquiring Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak, Patrick Maroon and David Perron and now Robby Fabbri back healthy the Blues should definitely be higher in the standings. Yet, they find themselves looking up from the bottom. The biggest crutch to this team has been their goaltending. Jake Allen has a 3.99 goals against, .879 save percentage. Plus their back up, not taking credit away from the guy but it’s Chad Johnson can he be the same player as Carter Hutton? I don’t think so. On the year he has two starts a 2.47 GAA and .919 save percentage. Yes, it is early but the worse you start out the harder it is to climb yourself out come the All-Star break. The Blues have seen a different type of Ryan O’Reilly to start the year leading the team with 19 points and 12 assists but also they do get secondary scoring (how could they not?), Tarasenko has 13 points, Schenn has 9 points, Perron has 12 points, two players have 8 points and 3 players have seven points. They get depth scoring but if they do not find something to do with Jake Allen and get some help in the goaltending department it will be a disappointing year for the Blues. I think with how competitive the Central is it will be near impossible for the Blues to crack a top three spot, wild card is their only option come playoff time.

(28) Vegas Golden Knights 6-8-1; 13 points

Vegas Golden Knights 2018-19 seaosn start Not how the Golden Knights expected this season to start, maybe they are coming down to earth and playing at the level many thought they were going to be at. I mean they have Jonathan Marchessault, Max Pacioretty, Paul Statsny, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, Alex Tuch and Erik Haula. But injuries have been the major problem for this team. They have dealt with Pacioretty, Statsny and Tuch on the IR and now Haula got hurt Tuesday vs Toronto and the Golden Knights continue dig a deep hole. Like I said before once you dig the hole deeper and deeper it is hard to get out come All-Star break time. The Golden Knights will need to a surge of production once they have everyone healthy and not playing five-road games. Marchessault and Karlsson are the only ones with 10+ points on the team which concerning. Like I said the hole is getting deeper and deeper, and in a Pacific division right now with a hot Edmonton team and Calgary team it will be catch up time for Vegas if they do not come out of this road trip either splitting it or taking 3 of 4 games. They already dropped one… I think the Golden Knights will be playing catch up all season and will miss the playoffs.

(31) Florida Panthers: 3-5-3; 9 points

What the heck happened with Florida? Although they did something like this last year, 31st? That is bad and not easy to bounce out of. When you are in a funk it is tough to get out of that funk, it feels endlessly and that’s how the Panthers feel right now. They have played just 9 games cause of the Global Series games but they head home for three games then hit the road for 2-weeks (6 games). This is going to be a good test for Florida. They may do the same thing they did last year, chase all year and be a borderline playoff team come April. They should be much better considering who is in their division but with a hot Montreal and Buffalo team the Panthers have some work to do and do it quick. They need to walk away with 2 of 3 wins on this homestand to get some confidence back, they have the scoring and forwards upfront to be a top contender but it is tough after playing two Global Series games in different countries and all that traveling. I predict the Panthers wake up in mid-November and chase all year.

Winners and Losers of Free Agency Day 1

Colorado Avalanche: The Avalanche signed Matt Calvert to a 3 year 2.8 mil and Ian Cole 3 years 4.25 mil. They lost Blake Comeau, Nail Yaukupov and Jonathan Brenier at the moment. The Avalanche added a lot more than they lost. Calvert may not be a superstar but at 28 years old with the ability to produce around 30 plus points a season is a solid addition. He also helps a ton with depth and brings a solid physical and gritty presence. Ian Cole being added to the blue line is big, a Stanley Cup champ and a player that helps mold and mentor some of those young defenseman on Colorado is big. Cole is a solid number five defenseman, played major minutes in Pittsburgh when they dealt with their blue line injuries, he’s proven to be durable and a guy you know what you are going to get.

St. Louis Blues: Tyler Bozak 3 years 5 mil AAV, David Perron 4 years 4 mil AAV and Ryan O’Reilly in a recent trade. The Blues did in fact let go of one of their best prospects in Tage Thompson, a hopeful top six forward in Vladimir Sobotka and a solid forward Patrick Berglund plus a 1st and 2nd round pick. The Blues did give in a lot but they are clearly going all in. With the addition of O’Reilly, Perron and Bozak the Blues top six(if everyone is healthy) is now… Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn, Bozak, O’Reilly, Perron. I mean that is solid in itself plus the fact you still have Robby Fabbri and Alexander Steen in the mix to make that forward group of 8 that deep is very, very good. A bit much on the Bozak contract a bit much on the O’Reilly trade but still the Blues improved significantly.

Arizona Coyotes: Coyotes lock up Oliver Ekman Larsson to an 8 year, 8 mil contract add depth and speed in Michael Grabner for 3 years 3.5 mil AAV. The Coyotes now have Alex Galchenyuk, Derek Stepan,  Clayton Keller, Christian Dvorak, Richard Panik, Dylan Strome and Grabner. Nothing crazy but hell of a lot better than what they had in the past. They made the right moves, and locked in their two top defenseman in Hjarmlsson and OEL, which is big while also adding Grabner is a very solid first day.

Chicago Blackhawks: Adding Cam Ward for when Corey Crawford is out or needs a break is huge. Brandon Manning may not be the best defenseman but anything on the back end is better than what the Blackhawks had last year. Chris Kunitz may be a fourth line addition but with the aging core, and younger players coming in the league, Kunitz is a very solid veteran to have on the team.

Philadelphia Flyers: Adding James Van Reimsydk the New Jersey native back to their roster is big. JVR spent his early days of his career in Philly, and now he is reunited with Cladue Giroux. JVR spent 3 seasons in Philadelphia totaling 99 points in 196 games. JVR was a 1st round, 2nd overall pick by the Flyers in 2007, now the Middletown, New Jersey native gets to head back home to win back Flyer fans once again.

Losers: 

New York Islanders have to be clear losers after day one, with losing John Tavares and adding Vlatteri Filppula and Leo Komarov as well as signing back Tomas Hickey, the Islanders faced their low point this free agency. But look at the positive, Matt Barzal is a stud, you got rid of Jaroslav Halak, Garth Snow is gone and you have Bary Trotz and Lou Lamiorello doing the business now. Plus your first round picks in 2018 are going to(hopefully) be great. Oliver Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson now have a ton of pressure on them even more without John Tavares there. Islanders grade with two small additions, losing Halak, adding Hickey back, I’d say a solid B-.

New Jersey Devils clear losers after losing John Moore and only adding Eric Gryba is a very bad move. John Moore their captain, and veteran defenseman and only Gryba who may not even make the team is a terrible decision on the Devils part. A big blow on the Devils management, it is not a HUGE loss but when you lose a veteran defenseman like that in the locker room to help the Devils young guys is the biggest lose. Solid F by the Devils.

 

Notable Goaltender Free Agents: Lehner, Mrazek, Hutton

Carter Hutton: Hutton has been said to be getting a lot of traffic from teams around the league. A lot of teams can use Hutton’s services. The question is though will Hutton settle for another backup goaltending job or will he go to a team that will offer him a starting role. It seems that Hutton wants to leave St. Louis indicating he wants to be a starting goalie. Luckily some starting roles are open. The Islanders, Sabres, Red Wings, Flyers, Canucks and others can all use a starting goalie. Hutton has started in 114 career games posting a 63-39-17 record, with a 2.42 GAA and .915 save percentage. Hutton was undrafted emerging in the league with Chicago in 2012 shortly being moved to Nashville the following season where he started in the most games of his career. Appearing in 34 games with a 20-11-4 record, 2.62 GAA, and .910 SV %. Hutton appeared in just a combined 53 games in the following three years. Until seeing more time this past season appearing in 26 games posting a 17-7-3with a 2.09 GAA and .931 SV percentage. Hutton came in for relief after Jake Allen had some minor mishaps in the crease, which Hutton was a solid and reliable number two which is probably why he has gained so much interest around the league. Hutton has got calls from a few teams and most notably the Blackhawks, where he started his career in 2012.

Petr Mrazek: Mrazek is another young goaltender hitting the free agency market. After being sent over from Detroit to Philadelphia at the trade deadline it has been rumored that Mrazek will not be getting an offer from Philadelphia this offseason making him a qualified free agent. Mrazek was drafted in the 5th round in 2010, making his appearance in the NHL 2012, appearing in just 34 games during his first three years. Slowly after that, he started getting more frequent time from 2015-2017 appearing in 93 games posting a 45-37-15 with a 2.69 GAA, .911 SV percentage. After having a falling out in the 2016-17 season, Mrazek appeared in just 15 games with Detroit after being sent to Philadelphia. Last season Mrazek posted a 14-13-6 record with a 3.05 GAA and a .905 SV percentage in 33 games. Where will Mrazek end up is unknown right now as it only came out a few days ago that he will be a free agent now. A lot of traction will be coming after Mrazek as he is a 26-year-old goaltender with a ton of upside.

Robin Lehner: Another 26-year-old goaltender on the free agency market. Lehner has been said that he will also not be receiving a contract offer from the Sabres, therefore, he will be a free agent. Lehner was expected to be a solid number one this season after failing to do so and posting a 14-26-9 record, the Sabres have obviously decided to move forward. Lehner has career numbers of 72-97-35 with a 2.82 GAA and .915 SV percentage. Lehner has been the “starter” in Buffalo for about two seasons now, after beating out Andres Nilsson last season, Lehner was given the ropes in Buffalo. Being drafted by Ottawa in 2009 in the second round and spending 5 seasons with them appearing in 76 games and failing to post an above .500 record in net, Lehner was sent over to Buffalo in 2015. Not making his mark as a number one goaltender yet, Lehner still has plenty of time to prove to some NHL clubs that he is a worthy number one.