Jeremy Rutherford wrote:
The Blues are sending Patrik Berglund a wake-up call tonight, making him a healthy scratch in only the fourth game of the season.
Berglund has averaged 11:37 of ice time in the first three games. He has one goal, no assists and he’s a minus-2. But it’s not Berglund’s lack of point production as much it is his overall infectiveness that’s taking him out of the lineup. He doesn’t play with the aggressiveness and the simplicity, making the easy pass, that you’d expect. When he fell into this rut last year, it was attributed to Berglund’s first time playing an 82-game NHL season. But three games into the season, stamina is no longer an excuse.
So here are the lines tonight with Berglund out . . .
Andy McDonald-David Backes-Paul Kariya
Brad Winchester-Keith Tkachuk-Brad Boyes
David Perron-T.J. Oshie-Cam Janssen
Alex Steen-Jay McClement-B.J. Crombeen
A couple of notes regarding the forwards:
- Kariya is playing on the right wing, rather than the left side. He’s played on the right side in the past and some believe he looked better on the right.
- Backes has no points through three games. The rap on Backes is that he’s a notorious slow starter, but Murray said today that it’s too early to say the trend has continued again this season.
- The last two years, we’ve heard that Tkachuk was going to play a lesser role . . . that he would play on the third and fourth lines. Three games into the season, he leads the team in points (6) and he’s playing on a line with Brad Boyes.
- Perhaps the most interesting part of tonight’s game for me will be watching Oshie play center. He played a lot of center in college and projected to be a center in the NHL. It’ll be fun to watch him skate and get into some of the dirty puck battles behind his own net.
- Janssen is playing on a skilled line with Perron and Oshie. Murray did this last year, too. He plays his enforcer on a skill line, but he doesn’t send him out for every shift. One of the other forwards will double-shift in Janssen’s spot.
- Janssen would probably prefer to play on a grinder line so that he can play his regular game, but by putting him on a skill line, the Blues are able to keep their defensive stopper unit together and have a bit of an offensive threat all each of their other three lines.
The success of the Blues’ stopper unit has been well documented, following its success against the Detroit Red Wings. Well, the unit will have its work cut out tonight.
The Los Angeles Kings have scored 15 goals in three games, and they have one of the hottest lines in the league currently.
Ryan Smyth-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams have 18 points in three games: Kopitar (3 goals, 5 assists), Smyth (3 goals, 3 assists) and Williams (1 goal, 3 assists).
Here’s the rest of the Kings’ lines . . .
Teddy Purcell-Jarret Stoll-Dustin Brown
Alexander Frolov-Michal Handzus-Wayne Simmonds
Raitis Ivanans-Brad Richardson-Peter Harrold
Sean O’Donnell-Drew Doughty
Jack Johnson-Rob Scuderi
David Drewiske-Matt Greene
One area in which the Blues want to be better tonight: face-offs. After three games, the club ranks 27th in the league in face-offs, winning just 43.2 percent of their draws. The league-high is San Jose, which has won 58.5 percent of its draws.
Here’s the Blues’ breakdown:
Jay McClement: 22 wins, 29 losses (43.1 percent)
Keith Tkachuk: 23-21 (52.3 percent)
David Backes: 9-14 (39.1 percent)
Patrik Berglund: 8-10 (44.4 percent)
Andy McDonald: 5-11 (31.2 percent)
Brad Boyes: 7-4 (63.6 percent)
T.J. Oshie: 0-8 (0 percent)
Alex Steen: 2-2 (50 percent)
Brad Winchester: 0-1 (0 percent)
McClement on face-offs: “I’ve struggled. The second game against Detroit, I was really bad. I think personally I just have to bear down more, and the rest of the guys, I’m sure it’s the same way. As centermen, we need as much help as we can get . . . with our wingers winning the pucks that are up for grabs. I guess that’s the biggest thing . . .when you’re struggline, just try not to lose it clean and make sure you keep the puck in there. Tie (the opponent) up and give some time for help.”
Blues defensive pairings:
Darryl Sydor-Roman Polak
Erik Johnson-Alex Pietrangelo
Carlo Colaiacovo-Mike Weaver
- Tyson Strachan has been recalled from Peoria but with be a healthy scratch tonight.
- Johnson played more than 25 minutes on Thursday, but Murray said today that he expects Johnson’s minutes to be more in line with the other defensemen tonight. Part of the reason for Johnson’s increased minutes Thursday was that the Blues were trailing late in the game and the Blues were looking for offense from Johnson.
- I owe defenseman Mike Weaver an apology. I mentioned in Friday’s article that he was out of position on Atlanta’s first goal. The goal was scored because of a misplay by Carlo Colaiacovo and because T.J. Oshie didn’t stick with his man in front of the net.
Chris Mason will be in goal tonight.