Throw Jaro under the bus? No way.

February 12, 2011

IMG_5367.jpgphoto © 2011 Bridget Samuels | more info (via: Wylio)


Wow. So – Jaro gets some hate tonight after making a couple of mistakes. Yet – other players made mistakes, costly turnovers, stupid penalties…brain farts…and get a free pass.

So – just a couple of things. Jaro’s been inconsistent this year? Yes, he has. I didn’t expect anything different. He played a lot of games late last season, took his team deep into the playoffs. Then he’s traded to St Louis. He has to get used to a new team, new communication, new defense. He’s also the #1 starter for the first time. He’s in a new Conference – the much tougher Western Conference.

The first 10-12 games of the season, he was fresh – now, he’s not. He’s played more games than he’s used to…the defense in front of him has at times been decimated by injuries and other players have not played up to their potential. He’s been battered in net because it seems nobody except Barret Jackman is interested in trying to stop the opposition crashing our net.

There’s also another thing. The Blues are not an easy team to anchor. We allow too many breakaways and turnovers and our much vaunted defense is simply not good enough. Yet.

That’s the thing – YET. What did JD say when introducing Jaro? He wanted a goalie who could GROW with the team – Jaro was not bought in as a saviour… yet most seem to expect him to be. The expectations are that, no matter what happens in front of him, no matter how shitty the team plays, Jaro will pull their asses out of the fire. And he has done – many times. He just can’t do it all the time.

Halak is 25 and in his first year as a starter.  How many other goalies went from backup to starter and impressed in their first season as #1?  Not many.  So, take a breath, step back from the ledge and realise that, of all the problems this team has…Jaroslav Halak is NOT one of them.


Here we go…

January 31, 2011

If you missed the All Star Game then check out the Guardian Project that was unveiled during intermission – have to say I rather like “The Blue”.

Well, the second half of the season starts tomorrow and the Blues really need to come out strong. Some good news to start with – it looks like Barret Jackman will be back tomorrow. Bad news – the status of Erik Johnson is unknown after he took a deflected puck to the face in practice today. As the saying goes, if the Blues didn’t have bad luck they wouldn’t have any luck at all. As far as Andy McDonald goes, Chris Kerber has just tweeted that McDonald is NOT expected back tomorrow but that the weekend looks more likely.

In other news, the Blues have recalled Philip McRae and Nikita Nikitin from Peoria – and have sent down Stefan Della Rovere.

Now, if the Blues are to make the playoffs there are a number of players who need to raise their games – and one of the most important is Jaroslav Halak. Halak has not had a good January – and yes, I know the defense has been hit, the forwards haven’t been backchecking enough and that our special teams and turnovers have almost crippled the team. But – this is the very time that Halak needs to come up strong. And I have no doubt that he will. Word is that he’s been working with Blues goalie coach, Corey Hirsch, on his positioning. They’ve been watching video and using Scott Mellanby as a screen whilst pucks are fired at Halak. Halak is working on staying farther out in his crease – a lot of his problems recently have been from drifting back into his crease and getting caught there. Staying at the top of the crease and being aggressive is what he needs to do. Of course, it might help if there was a defenseman, apart from Barret Jackman, who will get physical with opposition players who set up camp in Halak’s crease.

I have faith that Jaroslav Halak will rediscover his game – it’s not been easy for him. Having to adjust not just to a different team (with not as strong a defense as Montreal) but also adjusting to a different Conference. The West is much tougher than the East. It has to be remembered that Halak is also adjusting to something else: being a number 1 goalie. This is his first season as number 1 – it’ll take time. Personally, I think the All Star break is just what Halak needs. He can regroup – take a step back and start again.

Brace yourselves – because I think Halak will come up very strong in the second half of the season. He’s our franchise goaltender and whilst this season may be looked upon as a transition period, I’m very excited about how this guy is going to develop in the next few years.

Brad Boyes – A Riddle Wrapped In A Mystery Inside An Enigma

December 19, 2010

UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 11: Brad Boyes #22 of the St. Louis Blues skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on March 11, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Yes, I know the above quote from Winston Churchill referred to the Russians, but it also seems to fit Brad Boyes. There are not many players who are as much of a riddle, mystery and enigma than Brad Boyes. With a poor season last year and the Blues in the midst of an offensive injury “crisis”, the time is perfect for Brad Boyes to step up and show what he’s made of. Worryingly, Boyes has all but disappeared on the ice. The Blues are Boyes’ 4th NHL team and he’s 28 years old – so, is there a pattern here?

Boyes was drafted in the first round, 24th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2000 Entry Draft. Boyes spent time with the Erie Otters in the OHL and St John’s Maple Leafs in the AHL – registering 23 goals and 28 assists in his first AHL season before being traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs to the San Jose Sharks in 2003, along with Alyn McCauley and a first round draft pick in 2003 for Owen Nolan. Boyes played one NHL game for the Sharks, spending the rest of his time in the AHL with the Cleveland Barons.
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Halak the way you move…

July 11, 2010

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When the Blues traded for, and subsequently signed, goalie Jaroslav Halak, there was much rejoicing on Blues websites and forums. FINALLY, after years of “veteran backups” we have a young, very good goalie with the potential to become the best the Blues have seen for an awfully long time. However. The doubts still niggled away. The main one has been this almost whispered concern that Halak could turn out to be the Blues version of Cristobal Huet.

Huet had been another Canadiens goalie who had ousted Jose Theodore as starter. Huet had taken the Canadiens to the playoffs and had a great game against the Hurricanes, stopping 42 of 43 shots. The Canadiens lost the series to the Hurricanes but Huet was re-signed and was selected to the All-Star team. He was traded to the Capitals and then picked up via free agency by the Chicago Blackhawks, signing a 4 year, $22.4m deal. Since that time, his “streaky” play has led to rookie, Antti Niemi ousting him as number 1.

The Halak situation is completely different. How different is summed up by TSN analyst Pierre McGuire in an article in The Montreal Gazette. McGuire predicted Huet would crash and burn when the Canadiens traded him to the Capitals. McGuire was convinced that players had already figured out how to beat him. So what about Halak? Could the Blues be in the same situation? Not according to McGuire:

“This is totally different (from Huet),” McGuire said. “(Halak) is a player who is in his prime and this is a guy who’s really worked hard to get to where he is. Huet was not even close to being in his prime -he was past his prime and he had never made it in his prime. And he was a guy that really was a byproduct of players not being familiar with him … the tendency to drop early and beat him up high.”

The work ethic is the key. No matter what league Halak has played in, he has worked extremely hard to be the best he can be. He may not be the most naturally gifted – but I’ll take Halak’s hard work and good positioning over natural talent any day of the week. Halak has HAD to work hard to get where he is – and that builds character, it gives an inner strength and self-belief that simply cannot be taught. Halak has had his knocks and he’s bounced back stronger every time.

This is a player you can build around. This is why fans are excited. And this is why the Blues signed him to a 4 year, $15m deal. Halak will be the Blues #1 next season – and as his agent, Allan Walsh said on twitter: “St. Louis made a major commitment to him and Jaro is thrilled.”

Halak himself had this to say: “I’ve been looking forward to playing in St. Louis ever since the trade was announced. I believe in my abilities and hope to do some good things for the Blues.”

The future is bright – the future is Halak.


The Montreal Gazette
Blues Official Site

Eric Brewer – Oh Captain, My Captain

January 27, 2010

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Eric Brewer is very similar to Cam Janssen – in one respect.  Mention either name and you’ll get an instant polarisation of opinion.  Fans will either leap to their defence or fall over themselves to get the first insults in.   Eric Brewer is the Blues fans current whipping boy: he gets insulted on forums, booed when on the ice and yet, this is the man who is the Captain of the St Louis Blues.  You would think there’d be a little more respect for the man who wears the “C” on his chest.  So, time for a closer look at our enigmatic and quiet Captain and see if we can figure a few things out.

Eric Brewer’s NHL career started after being drafted 5th overall in 1997 by the New York Islanders – behind such luminaries as Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Olli Jokinen and Roberto Luongo.  He signed officially with the Islanders in 1998 – on an entry level contract with signing bonus.  Brewer was very highly regarded and played 63 games in his rookie season – amassing eleven points, 32 penalty minutes and 63 shots.   The following season saw Brewer demoted to the AHL after playing only three games for the Islanders.  Brewer was with the Lowell Lock Monsters for two weeks until he was recalled to the Islanders.  After a further 26 games with the Islanders – where he managed two assists – Brewer was demoted once again…this time for the remainder of the season.  However, it was at this stage that the first of Brewer’s “injury jinxes” hit and he missed over two months with a sprained knee.
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Bruins 4 – Blues 2

November 24, 2009

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Oh dear, oh dear. Once again, the Blues found it impossible to put in an effort for 60 minutes. 20 minutes seems to be what the Blues do now. The first period was good. The second period was bad. The third period was sloppy and slow. So, what do they need to put a rocket up them? In the Central Division, the Blues are last. 6 points behind the fourth placed team, Detroit. However, three of our next four games are against division opponents – namely, Nashville, Detroit and Columbus. Should the Blues stand pat – and see where we are after these games? We’re carrying 8 defensemen – with Junland, Strachan and Bell currently in Peoria. All very well to think of trading one or more…but who is available out there to help the Blues anaemic powerplay? Or even to simply put the puck in the net? It seems the Blues have lots of playmakers and no finishers at the moment.

Anyway – here are last night’s game reports:

The next few weeks are going to be very interesting for Blues fans.  Will the Blues be patient – and wait for players like Paul Kariya (no goals in 14 games) to solve their issues and start scoring?  Or will they dip into the trade market?  A number of supposedly good teams are having trouble –  the Ducks and Hurricanes to name two – so it could very well be the case that a change of scenery for a player or two could do some good.

Alex Steen – Fulfilling His Potential

October 14, 2009

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Alex Steen was the Toronto Maple Leaf’s first round pick in 2002 – drafted 24th overall. In his first season with the Leafs he scored 18 goals and registered 27 assists – leading to high expectations that he’d progress, blossom and become one of the stalwarts of the Maple Leafs forward lines. It didn’t quite work out that way. His second season with the Leafs saw his production fall slightly – 15 goals and 20 assists – and in his third season he registered 15 goals and 27 assists. Not bad numbers by any means but the Leafs wanted more. Much more. Steen was good defensively but in the beginning seemed to shy away from becoming a real physical presence on the ice. He did become more physical – dishing out good hits and being good on the forecheck but the writing was on the wall in Toronto.

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