In November of 2008, Toronto Maple Leafs Interim General Manager Cliff Fletcher targeted the Blues as a target for a possible trade. He wanted Lee Stempniak, a then-25 year old winger who had a 27-goal season just two seasons before. He traded oft-injured defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo and streaky-forward Alex Steen to the Blues for Stempniak.
“I have yet to know a player trade in any sport that there isn't an element of risk in it," Fletcher said to the media after the deal was approved by the NHL. "There is in every trade because the party on the other side is making the trade because they think they're making a good deal. And we think we're making a good deal.
"Hopefully we're both right."
Remember that fateful scene in Book XI of John Milton’s Paradise Lost when the almighty God punished Adam and Eve for not obeying him? He sent his Son to Earth to tell them of their fate, which was being tossed from the Garden of Eden.
Oh, I guess you didn’t read that one.
Well, you don’t need to. In a much smaller sense, the Blues have been punished for their deeds. It seems that terror has fallen upon this hockey team. The Hockey Gods are not smiling down on the Blues, and have even sent their messenger, the medical staff, to tell the Blues of their fate. Six regular skaters for the Blues have been unable to play in recent games. But one question remains; why? Was it that management did not pursue any new talent in the off-season? Did the team get too cocky with their winning ways earlier in the season? Is it because the Scottrade Center sound crew decided to play Linkin Park in the opening of home games?
Whatever it is, things are not looking up for the injury-plagued team. Even though the Blues (or should we just call them the Rivermen), have been stringing together a few wins here and there, players are dropping like flies. Here is the latest on the notorious six that are currently not in the lineup:
For someone who was often a healthy scratch in Montreal, Matt D’Agostini has found a safe home in St. Louis.
D’Agostini, drafted in the sixth round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by Montreal, was never expected to be a top-line talent. That showed while wearing a Montreal jersey, scoring just 25 points in 94 games played, including just 4 total points last season. Fans were upset and the coaching staff in Montreal was disappointed, earning him a reoccurring spot in the press box. But a change of scenery seems to be all the fourth-line mucker needed.
The then-23 year-old winger got a first-class ticket out of Montreal last March, when he was traded at the deadline for prospect Aaron Palushaj. Fans were constantly calling D’Agostini a nuisance to the Canadiens, gladly welcoming the trade. D’Agostini saw only seven games the rest of the season for St. Louis, recording no points. But after missing the playoffs, the Blues gave D’Agostini a chance. And boy did it pay off.
St. Louis Blues President John Davidson announced in mid-June that the club reached a deal with D’Agostini, signing him to a one-year, $550K contract. Heading into camp, D’Agostini would have to battle the likes of Brad Winchester, Vladimir Sobotka, Cam Janssen and B.J. Crombeen for a secure spot on the third and fourth lines. Not only did he play hard and make the team, but he really got believers with his hard work and patience in the pre-season. After scoring a goal in the pre-season, D’Agostini continued his production in the Blues’ second game of the season. He scored two goals in a Blues’ route over the Anaheim Ducks, resulting in a 5-1 victory.
We’ve all watched it. We’ve all suffered through them. We’ve all ripped our hair out over it. That Blues power-play has been atrocious this season, hasn’t it?
Currently ranked 26th in the league with a 13.3%, things almost cannot get any worse. Factor in that the Blues have the third-worst power-play on home ice (10.9%), are currently on a 0-16 slide (including 0-9 at home) and you get a team that seems unbearable to watch. There has not even been a power-play goal since Alex Pietrangelo scored in the middle of the first period against the New Jersey Devils twelve calendar days ago. So what should the Blues do to fix this major problem? Here are a few ideas that could change things.
Ty Conklin and the Blues defense just could not stop the Blackhawk onslaught Tuesday night, despite an early third period comeback.
The Blackhawks, who came in to the game with a 13-11-2 record, opened up the scoring Tuesday when forward Jeremy Morin swarmed Blues’ defenseman Nikita Nikitin behind his net, forcing a sloppy pass that was cut off by Patrick Sharp of Chicago. He slid it to Tomas Kopecky, who cannot be loved by many as he is also a former Red Wing. He blasted it past Conklin for the 1-0 lead at 4:38 of the first period.
That wasn’t the only offense in the first though. St. Louis had an answer for the Hawks, when David Backes carried the puck into the offensive zone and slid it to line-mate Vladimir Sobotka. With an extreme amount of patience, Sobotka carried it low and threw it in front, as Patrik Berglund was there to bang in the pass for his sixth of the season and the 1-1 tie at 16:59.