Maybe I am a little late in seeing this week’s power rankings, but I feel it deserves a closer look from hockey fans in St. Louis.
Every week, The Hockey News compiles a list called The Hockey News Power Rankings, in which they rank all 30 NHL teams based mostly on their play from the week before, but also taking into consideration how they have looked as a whole throughout the season. This list is compiled every Monday.
So not including Tuesday’s win over Detroit and Thursday’s victory over Florida, the Blues had gone 2-0-1 in the previous week, allowing them to go 8-7-1 on the season. The wins came against the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning (both 3-0 victories mind you), and the overtime loss came at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs (a game in which the Blues were down 2-0 and rallied back to take the game to overtime).
So where did the Blues place in the power rankings?
That 23 means 23rdplace and the 25 means that the Blues were in 25th place the week prior.
NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan announced Wednesday afternoon that Blues forward Chris Stewart has been suspended three games for his hit on Niklas Kronwall of the Detroit Red Wings. The incident occurred at 11:14 of the first period of the Blues and Red Wings’ Tuesday night matchup.
Here is all that you need to know about the incident itself and the suspension that followed.
Niklas Kronwall had the puck in the Detroit zone and tried to pass the puck to teammate Brad Stuart along the blue line when Blues forward Patrik Berglund slightly tipped the puck to keep it in the Red Wings’ zone. Kronwall retrieved the puck and skated toward the right-wing boards. As he curled back, he was approached by Chris Stewart. The Blues forward came from behind Kronwall, leaning toward Kronwall’s right. Stewart gave Kronwall a shove at the numbers and Kronwall flew into the boards. Kronwall lay on the ice while both Red Wings and Blues players swarmed the area as a scrum ensued. Stewart was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind. Kronwall did return to the game, but not until late in the second period.
Niklas Kronwall on the hit:
"I think I got lucky there. I think it could have ended a lot worse."
Just days after the Blues relieved Head Coach Davis Payne of his coaching duties and replaced him with former Columbus Head Coach Ken Hitchcock, the team struck a deal late Thursday night that will send defenseman Nikita Nikitin to Columbus for defenseman Kris Russell.
The trade leaked just minutes after the Blues lost in a shootout to the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-2.
Nikitin, 25, played in seven games this season for the Blues, registering 0 points and a minus-5 rating. Nikitin was selected in the fifth round, 136th overall, of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Blues. He has one full season played in his NHL career, recording 1 goal, 8 assists and 9 points in 41 games played last season.
The native of Omsk, Russia has been a healthy scratch in eight of the last nine games.
You may have seen my first proposal. I had the idea to just go the easier route and make fewer complications for the NHL Board of Governors. I figured that the less work done on a new divisional alignment plan, the less time it would take for NHL fans to understand the new concept.
Since that time, I have received a lot of feedback on what a new alignment should look like, as well as ramblings of fans from certain cities who are asking for better travel for their clubs.
Needless to say, I have caved in and seen the error of my ways.
We all got an idea of what NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman wants when he made it public in July that this current alignment just no longer works. He wants four divisions opposed to six, also alluding to the possibility of a return of divisional playoffs.
A four-division set-up would mean that the divisions would not be as equal as they are now. Currently, the NHL has two conferences and six divisions. Within each conference, there are three divisions. Within each division, there are five teams.
A two conference – four division set-up would call for uneven divisions. Two divisions would have eight teams and two divisions would have seven teams.
As I am sure all of Blues Nation already knows, the Blues relieved Head Coach Davis Payne of his coaching duties and replaced him with NHL coaching veteran Ken Hitchcock. On the outside looking in, this looks like a smart move. The Blues have posted a dismal 6-7-0 record this season, with players like Chris Stewart (3 points) and Patrik Berglund (5 points) off to very slow starts. But do the numbers really justify this move?
If you are a member of Blues management, you may not like my answer to this question.
Payne, who posted a winning record with the Blues (67-55-15), was hired in January 2010 and coached just one full season with the NHL club. Payne replaced former Head Coach Andy Murray after it was apparent that the Blues roster was not responding to his coaching techniques. Now with Payne in Murray’s shoes, everyone wonders if it was the same situation this time around.
It was not. Payne was getting results. There were other members of the organization who were not.
Our friends over at St. Louis Game Time posted an article Monday afternoon about how Payne was not the one who should have been let go. Instead, they suggested that assistant coaches Brad Shaw and Ray Bennett should have received the axe. This is a correct assumption.