Cam Janssen gets suspended

February 25, 2010

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The NHL announced today that Cam Janssen has been suspended for five games without pay as a result of a “late hit to the head delivered to an unsuspecting opponent” during the Blues game  on 13 Feb against the Washington Capitals.

Janssen will miss games at Phoenix on Mar. 2, at Dallas on Mar. 4, at Colorado on Mar. 6; at the New York Islanders on Mar. 11 and at Columbus on Mar. 13. He will be eligible to return on Mar. 14 at Minnesota.



Capitals 3 – Blues 4 (S/O)

February 14, 2010

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What a game – end to end stuff.  Both teams playing great hockey and, to be honest, the Blues played the best hockey they’ve played all season.  What made the difference though, was not Alex Ovechkin.  The difference maker was Chris Mason.  Mason was sublime – especially in the shootout which led Darren Pang to make the comment of “he could stop a pea through fog right now”.  Another “Pangism” to add to the ever increasing collection.

The Blues were the first on the board about midway through the first period.  Great work by Roman Polak – who had a fantastic game, managing to keep Ovechkin under wraps – who worked the puck from behind the Capitals net and laid a brilliant pass to an open Patrik Berglund.  Berglund made no mistake and the Blues were 1-0 up.  Mike Knuble levelled it less than 2 minutes later during a 5 on 3 powerplay.  Apart from the goals, there was another talking point during the first period.   The Capitals’ Matt Bradley was too busy admiring his pass when he was levelled by Cam Janssen.  A fight developed between Janssen and Quintin Laing and, when the dust had settled, the officials gave a few mystifying penalties.  Laing got 5 minutes for fighting; 2 for instigator; 2 for unsportsmanlike conduct and a 10 minute misconduct penalty.  Janssen, on the other hand, was given 5 minutes for fighting; 5 minutes for “interference” of all things and a game misconduct which saw him ejected from the game.   Unbelievable.  At least this time, BOTH teams saw very strange calls from the officials.

The second period was a bit of a goalfest.  A two on one breakaway and brilliant pass across ice from Paul Kariya saw TJ Oshie put the Blues 2-1 up.   Less than three minutes later, an unstoppable wrist shot from Alex Semin tied the game for the Capitals.  The Blues went ahead again on a powerplay goal from Erik Johnson that really zipped past Theodore in the Capitals net. Once again, the lead lasted less than three minutes as the Capitals tied the game late in the third with a powerplay goal from Mike Knuble.

The Blues pressed hard in the third period, outshooting the Capitals 12-7 but they couldn’t find a way past Theodore.  Ovechkin had his chances for Washington but was stifled by either Mason or Polak.  With 9 shots between the two teams in overtime, the game headed into the shootout.  This was where Chris Mason came into his own and elevated his game once again.

Surprisingly, Patrik Berglund was first up for the Blues and his shot was directly at Theodore who made an easy save.  Chris Mason then kept the shootout at 0-0 by making a superb gloved save on Alex Semin.  Next up for the Blues was TJ Oshie – who tied Theodore in knots but the puck just slid off his stick and went wide.  Boos greeted Ovechkin who has only scored 1 out of 5 shootout attempts.  Better make that 1 out of 6 as he was blanked by Chris Mason.  Brad Boyes was next Blues shooter – and having had three game winning shootout goals, the Blues must have felt confident.   Boyes, like Berglund, tried to go five-hole on Theodore but once again, the Capitals goaltender read it all the way and casually brushed it aside. With Chris Mason making a pad save on Backstrom, we were into sudden death.

David Perron took the ice and put the Blues 1-0 up in the shootout with a shot that hit the post, then the back of Theodore before bouncing into the net.  Lucky?  Maybe.  But they all count.  So, it came down to Brendan Morrison against Chris Mason.  Mason was in the groove though – and made a pad save on Morrison.  As the puck flipped up, Mason casually caught it in his glove.  Cue celebratory scenes reminiscent of the last season against the Blue Jackets when the Blues made the playoffs.

A well deserved two points for the Blues, taking their winning streak to three games.  Kudos in particular to Chris Mason, Roman Polak and TJ Oshie.  Okay, your game reports:

With the Olympic break, there is no more Blues hockey now until March.  However, keep your eyes on Team USA at the Olympics with Erik Johnson and David Backes.  The Czech Republic are worth a cheer as they have Roman Polak in their squad and Chris Mason is on reserve for Team Canada.

Maple Leafs 0 – Blues 4

February 13, 2010

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With the Blues standing pat at the Olympic trade freeze deadline, pressure was on to get the two points needed to drag themselves back into the playoff race.  The Blues did it – and they did it in style.   With the Blue Jackets, Predators and Wild all losing, the Blues made up some ground in the standings.

It was never going to be easy – the Maple Leafs have been rejuvenated with the addition of Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Dion Phaneuf.   An entertaining first period saw ex-Blue Lee Stempniak hit the post, Cam Janssen and Colton Orr getting into a scrap (one that was stopped rather quickly by the officials) and Andy McDonald picking up his 19th goal of the season to put the Blues 1-0 up.    It was a great goal – Brewer lifted the puck out of the Blues zone for McDonald to chase.  McDonald’s pass across ice was deflected and shot on goal by Erik Johnson.  The rebound came out to Patrik Berglund who played a neat little pass to McDonald to slot into the net.  Really excellent work by Berglund who is slowly rediscovering his form of last season.

In the second period, the Blues found themselves on the penalty kill three times and it’s worth mentioning just how good the Blues penalty killing is because, despite having three powerplays, the Maple Leafs were limited to four shots for the entire period.  The penalty kill is working hard – and it’s also starting to pay dividends in the offensive zone.   The Blues scored two shorthanded goals in this period.  The first followed good work by David Backes who pressured Tomas Kaberle into a dangerous turnover.  Backes took the puck behind the net and attempted a wraparound goal.  The puck squirted out to TJ Oshie who, with Giguere sprawled on the ice, made no mistake with a practically open net for his 12th goal of the season.

The Blues second shorthanded goal was a absolute delight.  A solo, unassisted goal by Alex Steen who broke out of the defensive zone and carried the puck behind the Maple Leafs goal.  He battled for the puck against, at first, two Maple Leafs, and then four.  Steen never gave up and, surprisingly, came away with the puck and scored a briliant wraparound goal on a very surprised Giguere.

The Maple Leafs came out for the third period 3-0 down – and they really piled the pressure onto the Blues.   Chris Mason was superb – making 15 saves in the final period alone – and the Blues wrapped up the game with just over 6 minutes left.  Crombeen took the puck behind the Maple Leafs goal and centered for Jay McClement.  McClement dragged the puck to the right and passed across goal to Crombeen who had a simple tap in.

For the Blues, it was a job well done and it must have been very sweet for Alex Steen to score and Carlo Colaiacovo pick up an assist against their old team.  Two sorely needed points now take the Blues to only four points behind the seemingly freefalling Calgary Flames who currently hold 8th place.  Anyway – your game report:

So, in their final game before the Olympic break, the Blues face the Washington Capitals at Scottrade.  Alex Ovechkin is in town – and the Blues have one hell of a game on their hands.  Puck drops at 7pm – and this one is going to be a doozy.

Blues make minor trade

February 11, 2010

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The Blues today sent AHL D-man, Steve Wagner, to Pittsburgh in exchange for D-man, Nate Guenin.

Steve Wagner was signed as a free agent by the Blues in 2007 and has appeared in 46 NHL games for the Blues with 4 goals.  Nate Guenin has played 41 games with the AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins with 3 goals and 2 assists.   He has played 14 NHL games with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Guenin will report to Peoria.

Red Wings 3 – Blues 4 (S/O)

February 10, 2010

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Well, the Blues made heavy weather of it, but they won – and thoroughly deserved it. Okay, so they should have won in regulation and not handed a playoff rival a point but, the way things are going for the Blues, we’ll take what we can get.

The Red Wings goals were scrappy affairs – two of them being reviewed because they went in off skates. Of course, both were called good goals – and this time the officials were actually right. The one that caused an eyebrow raise was the Red Wings tying goal – the puck disappeared beneath a scrum in front of goal yet there was no whistle. Strange as the Blues had a play whistled dead a few nights ago when everyone could still see the puck…except the official.

However, let’s concentrate on the good things. Paul Kariya scored on home ice for the first time this season. And just to rub it in, he actually scored twice. The Red Wings scored first – despite being outshot 20-12 in the first period and it took until midway through the second period before the Blues got on the board. Paul Kariya dropped a pass back to David Perron, who tied up the Wings defender in knots before unleashing a shot on goal. The puck was tipped in by Kariya, who had planted himself in front of net, for his first at Scottrade this season. Kariya worked really hard in the game – and really deserved his second goal. He hustled behind net and robbed the Wings defender – he was hooked on the play and the puck broke free. Kariya again, went to the front of the net and was there to deftly slot home his second goal. The Blues scored twice in the second period despite being outshot 14-8.

The third period is traditionally a time for Blues fans to get nervous – and the butterflies seemed to have been banished when Andy McDonald scored his 18th of the season (following great work from Erik Johnson) to put the Blues 3-1 up. No lead is safe for the Blues though and the Wings scored twice late on in the period to take the game into overtime.

The Blues outshot the Wings 6-3 in overtime – including an excellent 3 on 2 breakaway where Steen passed to Brewer but his shot was brilliantly saved by Howard. Mention must be made of Jimmy Howard who, more than once, kept his team in the game.

It was left to the delight of the shootout to settle the game and, with the Blues 2-1 up in the shootout following goals from Oshie and Boyes, Chris Mason made a great save on Zetterberg to claim the extra point for the Blues. A very well deserved extra point.

  • The Blues Official Site has the recap, highlights and interviews with Chris Mason, Paul Kariya, Brad Boyes and Davis Payne.
  • St Louis Game Time sum it up by saying the Blues “tried to blow it” but couldn’t quite manage to.
  • Dan O’Neill of the Post Dispatch notes that the Blues blow another lead but win in the shootout with comments from Davis Payne, Paul Kariya and Chris Mason.

Next up, Blues play Toronto on Friday.

Blues 2 – Avalanche 5

February 9, 2010

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It’s getting tired now.  More stupid calls from the officials and, for the second time in two games, a Blues disallowed goal.  Any conspiracy theorists out there would have a field day with all this.  The thing is though, it didn’t really affect the outcome.

The Blues again missed chances.  Again, defensive lapses and turnovers led to goals for the Avalanche.  The same old story.  It started so well – Eric Brewer scoring his 6th of the season to put the Blues 1 up after just over 3 minutes of the game.  The Avalanche tied the game less than a minute later before Erik Johnson put the Blues ahead again in the 8th minute.  It took until the 17th minute of the period before the Avalanche tied the game again on a powerplay goal.  That, however, was the best it got for the Blues.

The Avalanche then scored 3 goals in just over 4 minutes in the second period – with Chris Mason allowing 5 goals on 15 shots.  He had a bad game and was pulled for Ty Conklin.  Conklin made 18 saves for the Blues but it was too little too late.

It looked like the Blues might be coming back into it when TJ Oshie appeared to score.  Both Oshie and Scott Hannah were chasing a puck into the Avalanche zone.  The puck hit Hannah and went into the net.  Oshie was called up for Hooking and, amazingly, the goal was disallowed.  It’s just the way the Blues luck is running at the moment.  The Blues had their chances and simply couldn’t find a way through.

The Blues played a sloppy game – and didn’t deserve to win – but what does this say about their playoff chances?    It says a lot – the Blues are currently 7 points out of the playoffs and Nashville, in 8th place, have 2 games in hand over the Blues.   Tonight’s game against Detroit is now crucial – but we’re going to need teams above us to start losing too.  Can we do it?  I doubt it.  They’re not playing well enough.

Anyway – your game reports:

Tonight, the Red Wings visit Scottrade – a must win for the Blues.  With the Olympic Trade Freeze on Friday, the Blues have decisions to make.  According to Andy Strickland, the Blues have already made it clear to other GM’s that Carlo Colaiacovo is available.

Blackhawks 2 – Blues 1

February 7, 2010

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Well this was a game of “if only’s”. If only the Blues hadn’t presented the Hawks with a 2 goal lead in the first period. If only the officials hadn’t made so many bad decisions. If only the Blues could have solved the Hawks goaltender, Niemi, who had a stunning game. If only the Blues wouldn’t give up so many turnovers.

The game was never boring, never routine. The Blues weren’t embarrassed by the Hawks – they stayed with them, creating enough chances to win the game but being denied by a combination of superb goaltending by Niemi and some very strange if not downright absurd officiating. Patrick Sharp scored the Hawks first goal, following a turnover by the Blues. An out of position Chris Mason had no chance as Toews found Sharp in front of goal.

The Hawks second goal was a bit like watching a comedy routine – except the joke was on the Blues. Roman Polak and TJ Oshie both went for the puck and Oshie tripped over Polak. The puck broke free and the Hawks broke away with Toews scoring past Mason. The first period was also graced by two fights – with rather unusual players being involved. Barret Jackman squared off against Cam Barker – not a great fight because Barker decided he’d rather be involved in a wrestling match and tried to hug onto Jackman the whole time. Jackman managed to break an arm free and land a nice punch on Barker who fell to the ice.

The second fight occured near the end of the period when Eric Brewer took exception to Andrew Ladd trying to hastle Chris Mason. Brewer took charge, dropped the gloves and after a brief battle, ended up on one knee before getting up and landing a final punch that caused both of them to end up on the ice. Good to see the Captain leading from the front.

A hard fought but scoreless second period once again saw the Blues outshoot the Hawks only to be denied by the acrobatics of Niemi. This period also saw one of the strange officiating decisions – when the Blues actually scored only for the goal to be waved off. A perfectly good goal denied because the referree was very poorly placed and thought the play was dead. He was the only one in the building who thought so. We also had a blatant interference on Brad Winchester that went uncalled. Add this to the first period drama when Winchester was tripped and, as he fell to the ice, his stick came up – the official insanely called a high stick penalty on Winchester – then you start to get an inkling of the idiocy that seems to happen as regards NHL officiating. However. That’s as maybe because the Blues went in at the end of the second period still 2-0 down.

The Blues pulled a goal back in the third period whilst on a 5 on 3 powerplay – Oshie and Perron combining to get the puck to Steen who unleashed another of his trademark lasers that Niemi had no chance with. It was too little too late though and the Blues hard work came to nothing. They deserved at least a point in this game – but due to a combination of Niemi, turnovers, poor decisions by forwards… not forgetting awful officiating – they didn’t get it. However, if the Blues lose out on a playoff spot, it won’t be the officiating that gets the blame. The Blues put themselves in a poor position by, once again, giving up two early goals to high quality opponents. You can also point to the Blues utterly abysmal home record, their previous inability to hold onto a lead (how many games were the Blues up by 3 goals only to lose the game?), the excessive turnovers, sloppy defensive play, forwards unable to score…the list goes on and on.

For most of the season, the Blues have not been getting scoring by players whose job it is to put the puck in the back of the net. You can forgive the youngsters – Oshie, Berglund etc because they were fast tracked to the NHL, didn’t spend time in the AHL learning their game and have gone through the classic “sophomore slump”. David Perron is building up the points though – and Oshie and Berglund are now playing much better. The youngsters are getting there. We just need a little patience. The issues seem to be with the older players. Kariya – came back from surgery pronouncing himself better than before yet hasn’t scored on home ice for an eternity. Brad Boyes – can’t seem to buy a goal at the moment. The Blues need a scorer – and I’m not sure that Boyes is the answer. Management, thankfully, appear to recognise the needs of the team – being revealed earlier this week as being the “mystery” team involved in the bidding for Kovalchuk. Quite rightly, the Blues balked at giving up too much for a “rental” player. Free agency is another matter – it’ll be interesting to see how the trade deadline pans out for the Blues … not to mention the off season.

Anyway – your game reports:

  • The Blues Official Site has the game recap, highlights and interviews with Chris Mason, Brad Boyes and Davis Payne. Strangely, the highlights don’t show the disallowed goal. Take that for what you will.
  • St Louis Game Time Game Day Thread – not for the fainthearted. And not for anyone related to an NHL official…
  • Jeremy Rutherford of the Post Dispatch states that the Blues were “seeing red” with comments from Davis Payne, Carlo Colaiacovo, Chris Mason and Brad Boyes.

And if, like me, you’re still not in a happy place following some of the incidents in last night’s game then here’s a little something to cheer you up.  Our Captain.  Leading from the front (courtesy of