First of all, let me just say that blogs suck. I know this. You know this. Hell, even MSNBC is starting to notice. So, the backlash is coming. Eventually, everyone is going to distance themselves from these free-form crapalanches of wasted words and innane inner thoughts.
And yet, I remain undeterred.
I really wanted to have a forum on the stlouisgametime.com site that was constantly updated and had some fresh info. If you're a regular GT reader, you probably want new info and whatnot all the time. That was the one thing I wished that Jeffio's Game Night Revue had capitalized on. We have super hardcore readers. We have knowledgeable readers. We have opinionated readers. Let's give them a place to go to see new content and to react. And hence, our blogs and our message board.
I'm not a programmer of internet websites. I have a guy who is trading his services for advertising to do this simple site for us (visit darwinsweb.com for a truly responsive and customer-oriented hosting service, by the way. Kevin at darwinsweb is flat-out outstanding). So a blog is the only way for me to vent this crap. And hence, I plan to try to fight through the impending blog backlash.
Yes, I'll be the one guy proudly burning the rubber off his Firebird tires out in front of the internet house with his virtual mullet flowing. Skynyrd Rulez, baby!
Which brings me to another subject. I mentioned in an article a few months back that I hate talking hockey. Most of the time. Because most of the time, I end up talking to half-way fans and other phonies who are just regurgitating what they heard Mike Claiborne say on KFNS or read in Jeremy Rutherford's column online.
Those two gents have views. They have info. They have original thoughts. They're good. Spinning off them is obvious and tired.
But you GT people. I like talking to you. You actually know what the hell you're saying. You're not afraid to go against the grain and say that the Blues are terrible shooters, not that the Dallas goalie is fantastic (which is true, but a Blues fan also recognizes that the Blues refuse to deke on the breakaway). I had a regular GT reader talking to me before the game and he was saying, "let's just hope it doesn't come down to a shootout, because all our guys do is take a quick wrister."
Holy shit. THIS IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!
And that's just one example. The GT fans can talk knowledgeably about why the Blues always lose in the third period (more on that below). They can talk about the frustration knowingly ("you still have to come out. They're still our team. That's fans." This is an actual quote I overheard). They can tell you how long Gamache has been scratched (he of the offensive jump who would ignite the team). GT people know their shit.
And that is why we have the message board. I wanted to put one up, but was afraid that it wouldn't get enough action and end up being a shriveled little disappointment. Like Eric Weinrich.
But it's up after I was coerced by Chris Moresi. And we are there. As GT staffer Chris Reed said on WGNU's Sports Overdrive show tonight, "we're there every day."
Which reminds me. Chris Reed, who is on the official GT masthead as a "Creative Consultant" appeared on the WGNU (920AM) Sports Overdrive show Thursday before the game. I thought he did an amazing job for the paper, proving again that we have fanatical and passionate folks on staff. He and the host, Brian Stull, got along great and seemed to click well. As I was out selling on the street, I listened in with one earbud to the show. I laughed a lot and, while Reedo and I don't always agree about hockey or the Blues, I thought the show was super-entertaining. [As an aside, I don't always agree with the staff and their views. I don't think that's important, either. We're all crazies. We all have our own opinions. We won't always agree. I don't want sycophants on staff. I want us to disagree. I want YOU to disagree. We're all fans and none of this is objective.]
And if you're wondering what a "Creative Consultant" does for a fan-based hockey paper, well, he provides occasional comedy bits and provides the editor/publisher with great ideas and inspiration for his columns. Chris doesn't write for me, but many of our hockey conversations end up morphing into my writings on this blog and in the paper.
If you heard the show, you know why.
By the way, be sure to check out the Sports Overdrive show every night. Brian Stull does a great job there and I always hear a different take from him than you'll hear on the other stations. Plus, tonight they had on a girl who personally partied across the land to determine the Top 10 Party Schools. Look yourself in the mirror and try to convince yourself that you wouldn't support that as a sport.
Every night, from 6-7 pm on WGNU 920 AM. You can also stream the show from your computer at www.wgnu.net.
So, you can tell that I've been putting off the whole Coyotes v Blues thing, right? Well, it's because it's far too frustrating. How many times do you have to get caught with the guy with the stupid goddamn YELLOW VISOR on the ice to realize that The Visor has to go? Check the boxscore on NHL.com. Eric "The Visor" Weinrich was on for all three goals that occurred with five Blues on the ice (with a goalie in net). Both of the big goals in the third were scored with The Visor out there.
How does this happen? Sillinger has two goals and is clearly looking for the Hat on home ice against the latest team to trade him. Going into the third with a one-goal lead against a CuJo who seems surprised that shit keeps going in over his shoulder.
And they lose.
Know how? Aside from Weinrich playing wayyy too much, the problem is this: the Blues are a team full of third and fourth liners, and that only goes so far.
Here's the theory.
I don't remember if it was a coach (not NHL, don't get excited) who told me, or a scout whose words I read, or what, but this I remember: what I heard/read sounded dead-on.
The difference between a prospect who can play on the top two lines in the NHL and a guy who will play on the bottom two lines is the player's skills away from the puck. While it seems like the really gifted players are always on the puck, it's just not true. Next game, watch the good guys and see how often they are really touching the puck. It's not as often as you think. Ilya Kovulchuk and Rick Nash and Jarome Iginla, the three guys who shared the Rocket Richard Trophy for scoring last season, are never lagging that thing all over the ice. They appear, get the puck, and quickly get rid of it. Think of Brett Hull. Everyone always said that he "disappeared" and then showed up between the circles, shooting.
The same applies to playmakers. Brad Richards and Peter Forsberg and Ron Francis and Adam Oates don't/didn't carry the puck as much as you think either. They almost never go end-to-end with it.
And none of the players on the top lines in the NHL are constantly pressuring the puck in the offensive zone and the neutral zone. They are elsewhere.
The guys who end up playing on the bottom two lines? They are the swift skating guys who are all over the puck. In every zone, they are there. They want it in the offensive zone, they're crashing it in the defensive zone. In fact, it's this attitude that gets many of them noticed by scouts when they are in junior leagues.
"He's always around the puck." Not necessarily a compliment. In junior, lots and lots of guys can score. The guys who know where to go when they don't have it end up on the top lines. The guys who chase it when they don't have it end up scoring less, but are always around it.
The current Blues team is FULL of third and fourth liners. The Blues are always around the puck. They fly to it in every zone. They want nothing but to crash guys, steal it and carry it up ice. They expend their seemingly boundless energy chasing it.
And that works great for the first two periods. But by the time the crashing, banging, team chock full o' fourth liner Blues get to the third period, they are pursuing a little less (as are the other teams' bottom two lines). But there aren't any elite top line guys around to take over.
And that's when the third period lead evaporates.
It makes for exciting hockey, having 10 third and fourth liners out there for a whole game. The guys never quit. They never say die. They just don't have the skill to stay with teams that have legitimate talent on the top two lines. Eventually, those guys are going to get their chances for the other teams. And we don't have those guys.
Can you imagine how good this team would be if 22 goal Mike Sillinger was playing on our second line?
Someday, folks. Someday we'll be back there.