Nevertheless, 'it's really cool to be back' Tarasenko says as 60 players hit the ice for the start of training camp.
CBC grad last played with Blues in 2010-11.
The 60-player roster has been split into two teams.
Training camp kicks off with many players back, but Hitchcock says 'full-on competition' is there.
Coach promises to place greater emphasis on checking.
Detroit was the first to clinch a first-round victory, sweeping the Phoenix Coyotes in four games. Nashville won their first ever playoff series, beating the Anaheim Ducks in six games. Chicago came roaring back from a 3-0 series deficit against Vancouver and forced a game seven, only to lose in overtime. And don’t forget Columbus, who finished last in the division and 16 points out of a playoff spot. Where does that leave the Blues?
With all of the success of the Central Division, the Blues and Blue Jackets have to feel out of the picture. The Blues, who finished ten points out of a playoff spot, still battled against these surging teams in the regular season.
The Blues have proven that they can beat winners. The Blues had a winning record against their Central Division foes this season, going 12-8-4 (the Blues received 28 out of a possible 48 points). They had three Central Division games in a row spanning from December 23 – 28 against the Red Wings, Predators and Blackhawks. The Blues won all three games, outscoring their opponents 9-4 and recording one shutout.
The best performances probably came in the six games played against the Nashville Predators. The Blues went 4-1-1 against the Predators, scoring 14 total goals and allowing just eight goals. Jaroslav Halak shut-out the Predators on three different occasions, which is quite the accomplishment when considering that Nashville finished the first round in six games, yet still are tied for the lead in playoff goals-scored (22 goals for). Simply put: Nashville will score goals when the game counts.
The Blues’ distant future looks very bright. The immediate future could use some work, though.
With the playoffs in full swing, it gives teams like the Blues time to look over their roster a little more closely and decide what is needed for the coming season.
With T.J. Oshie and David Backes leading the offense and Jaroslav Halak the goalie expected to do it all, that leaves one question; who is leading this young defense?
Alex Pietrangelo made a name for himself last year; if not for an archaic NHL rule, he would be up the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year. But at the young age of 21, it is tough to assume that this guy can play against the top lines of opposing teams and shut them down every night. He, like Shattenkirk, Nikitin and Cole, needs a veteran defenseman who can show him a few tricks.
Roman Polak is hardly a veteran at this point in his career and Carlo Colaiacovo is steady but is not a guy that can take the reigns and steer the young defense on the ice.
For the fifth time in six seasons, the St. Louis Blues failed to make the NHL playoffs. With that kind of mark, it may be tough for fans to see the positives that stem from their beloved team. This is where I come in.
The Blues finished the 2010-11 season Saturday night with a 2-0 win over the Nashville Predators. Going 38-33-11, the Blues amassed 87 points which placed them in eleventh place in the Western Conference standings. The Blues do finish with three fewer points than last season; however, there were some bright spots.
The number one question heading into this season was how the Blues would find a way to score goals. Paul Kariya and Keith Tkachuk left the roster and management did little to fill their spots. It seems that they did not need to.
Brought in at the trade deadline last season, Matt D’Agostini was the biggest surprise on the roster. D’Agostini, who’s career-high in goals was 12 in 2008-09 with the Montreal Canadiens, shattered his old mark and put up 21 goals this season. D’Agostini found himself on the top line many games this season, showcasing his strength and fancy puck work. D’Agostini was also the workhorse of the team, joining David Backes as the only two Blues who played in all 82 games this season.
The Blues welcomed back three players who have been out of the lineup for multiple games. Fan-favorite T.J. Oshie was returning from a team suspension (2 games), and forward Alex Steen (10 games) and defenseman Barret Jackman (10 games) were returning from injuries. The Blues also saw a big milestone reached by David Backes.
Backes scored at 14:27 of the second period, which was his 100th career NHL goal after a nice pass from Kevin Shattenkirk. The goal was Backes’ 29th of the season.
The Blues added a goal from Matt D’Agostini, who had the first goal of the game and broke Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff’s Blues shutout streak of 144:41. The power-play goal was assisted by Backes and Shattenkirk and was D’Agostini’s 21st goal of the season.
But it was not enough as the Blues could not hold their lead and fell to the Flames 3-2 in regulation.
Blues young star T.J. Oshie was MIA at practice Monday morning and Head Coach Davis Payne did not seem to be okay with his absence.
Payne called Oshie’s absence “unexcused” and is meeting with GM Doug Armstrong tomorrow to discuss an appropriate punishment.
Oshie’s teammate Patrik Berglund slept in once last season, causing him to miss a team practice. His punishment was being a healthy scratch for the Blues’ next game. A similar punishment is expected for Oshie.
Oshie has posted 10 goals, 20 assists and 30 points in 44 games this season. He missed 31 games earlier this season with a fractured ankle.