Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Peepin' Foes: St. Louis Blues

John Davidson returns to the Garden Thursday night with his St. Louis Blues in tow for a 7pm game against the Blueshirts (on MSG Network). Well, we know the Blues will be in town, hopefully J.D. will be with them as it is always so, so great seeing him back on the broadcasts; it makes you hate Joe Micheletti that much more every time.

Where We Are: As Andrew Gross pointed out his posts today, Torts is in a terse mood and trying new lines, exactly what you want from your leader while you make a final run at the playoffs. And even though it is probably best for the team (and us fans) not to make the postseason, the Rangers are only three points behind Boston, who has just one game in hand.

Where They Are: Amazingly, St. Louis fans are having the same conversations we are having - is it best for the team not to make the second season??? They have a higher hill to climb than the Rangers, trailing eighth place Detroit by seven points but they had won four of five out of the Olympic break prior to losing Sunday and Tuesday (to Minnesota and Colorado respectively).

Who To Watch For: J.D. is doing things right and his rebuilding efforts are coming to fruition - there is a lot of young, good talent on that roster. From Olympians David Backes, Erik Johnson and Roman Polak to future Olympians Patrik Berglund and T. J. Oshie, the Blues will be loaded for a few years to come. Berglund has eight points in his last nine games. There is solid veteran talent in Walt Keith Tkachuk, Paul Kariya and Barret Jackman, provided they are healthy. If not, there are a few guys mid-stride in Andy MacDonald, Thomas Alex Steen and Jay McClement that are capable of contributing.

What To Watch For: See just how much chemistry the new Ranger lines have. A half empty Garden - they aren't winning and are playing a random West team devoid of 'name' stars so who wants to spend a ton of money to see them on the day after St. Patrick's? See the young tough kids taking advantage of the Pillsbury-soft Ranger blueline to get at Hank. Brad Boyes scored 43 goals two years ago, 33 last year and has just 12 now ... which means that the Rangers should give up a hat trick to him.

What We'll (Hopefully) See: Signs of life from Marian Gaborik, Vinny Prospal and Olli Jokinen. The Chris Mason in goal that has allowed eight goals in his last four periods of play, not the one that shut down the Islanders. Cam Janssen vs Sean Avery in a who-can-be-a-bigger-pain-in-the-ass contest. B.J. Crombeen vs. Jody Shelley in a legitimate, not pre-planned, not fight for the sake of fighting fight.

Also Check Out: SBN's St. Louis Game Time is the top St. Louis site IMO but you can also stop by Let's Go Blues and Jeremy Rutherford's MSM blog Morning Skate.

3 comments:

Jim said...

Tonight will be my first game ever seeing the Rangers at the Garden (I've seen them play at Contintental and the Rock a few times). I'm excited for my first home game experience, but also anxious seeing as the Rangers have been playing like, well, the Rangers recently and St. Louis is good on the road.

Scotty, in your opinion, what's a better jersey purchase - Gaborik NYR or Gaborik Slovakia Olympic team?

Anonymous said...

I don't see why it will be best to not make the post season... almost everyone is pimping that line now.

Let's be honest here for a moment: a 9th, 10th or 11th place finish isn't going to get Slats axed. Sure, some disappointment and stuff, but even if we lost every game from here on out, they'd still be a stone's throw away from 8th.

Even if the team lost every game to get the worst possible finish, they'd still be in the middle of the draft. Every pundit has said this draft blows outside of the top 3, and it's not like there's a great track record in this franchise for drafting.

Even going one and done in the playoffs will provide valuable experience to the younger guys on the team.

There really isn't anything to gain from missing the playoffs or tanking at this point.

-j0ehoe

Scotty Hockey said...

Jim - I would go for the Slovakia Gabby over the NYR - that is a beautiful sweater and, should he ever go elsewhere, you could still wear it.

j0e - Mind you, I was one of the first to pimp that line. And you are absolutely right in that everyone says that the draft is weak after the top 3. And you are likely right in that a miss won't rid us of Glen. But still, the experience of playing a few extra games won't be as meaningful as the heartbreak of falling short - it would be a driving factor for next season. We did one or two and dones the last few seasons and it didn't get us anywhere. The same players came out and played the same half-assed hockey that they did before that cost them a chance at the Cup.

And, I would be lying if I didn't say that one of the best factors of not making the playoffs is not having to pay for tickets and robbing Dolan of his revenue. No matter how frustrating the team is, no matter how aggravated I am with them, I am going to pay to watch them play, because I am that much of a diehard (or masochist, take your pick).