Lighting the Lamp, With Rick Ackerman
Rumors are spreading faster than zombies during World War Z that Blues goaltender Brian Elliott is available via trade to any NHL club in need (Edmonton, Calgary?). Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun claimed via twitter that Elliott's name "has popped up on the rumor wire", citing his $1.8M salary. With excellent starts by Jaro Halak in St. Louis and Jake Allen in Chicago, it makes sense that the Blues might want to create more salary cap space and leave more room for possible trades later in the season. And the Blues are well stocked with young, capable net minders in Kalamazoo (Jordan Binnington), Val-D'Or (Francois Tremblay) and Sweden (Niklas Lundstrom). However, it is a well-known fact that Garrioch has had a long-running personal vendetta against Elliott, who played for the Senators from 2007 to 2011. After Elliott was traded to Colorado, Garrioch tweeted several times about Brian "it's not my fault" Elliott, as well as derogatory tweets such as "Brian Elliott has lost five straight with the Avs. I'm sure it's not his fault. Bad bounces" and "Brian Elliott left the rink without speaking to the media. Speaks to his character, doesn't it?" At any rate, it will be interesting to see what Blues GM Doug Armstrong does with three quality goaltenders available and three more good rookies waiting their turn. Since the Blues have no pressing needs right now, Armstrong will likely do nothing, or wait until later in the season in order to maximize the return, most likely a high amateur draft choice or some promising rookie already in the system. How about Calgary's Mark Jankowski, drafted 21st overall in 2012 or Edmonton's Bogdan Yakimov, a third round selection in 2013?
Blues Nation is hoping the Sharks' rookie sensation Thomas Hertl is all right following a collision with Ottawa's Clarke MacArthur and will be able to play tonight. After scoring his league-leading seventh goal 55 seconds into the game, the 19 year old wunderkind was forced to leave the game with just over two minutes left in the second period. MacArthur was not penalized on the play. Hertl was also hit in the head by Vancouver's Alex Edler during the Sharks' 4-1 victory last Thursday. Edler was suspended by the NHL for three games for the illegal hit. A first round draft choice in 2012 out of the Czech Republic, Hertl became the first NHL rookie to score four goals in a game since Jimmy Carson did it for Los Angeles in 1986. And by now, just about every hockey fan in the world has seen Hertl's fourth goal against New York, a between-the-legs trick shot that capped a four goal performance and created tremendous excitement and admiration. However, not everyone was enthralled with the goal (notably Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates) and some resented that it came with the Sharks leading 7-2, accusing the teenager of showboating and purposely embarrassing the Rangers. And Shark coach Todd McLellan did keep Hertl off the ice for the rest of the game, perhaps fearing retaliation from any angry, upset Rangers. Many, including analysts Barry Melrose, Ray Ferraro and Darren Pang, did come to Hertl's defense, though, including Sharks center Joe Thornton.
Jumbo Joe actually stole some of the spotlight from Hertl after the game with a singular comment when he overheard a reporter ask teammate Patrick Marleau if Hertl crossed a line by showboating. Thornton said, "Shut up, have you everplayed the game?" As an afterthought, he then added, "I'd have my cock out if I scored four goals. I'd have my cock out, stroking it." Normally, this kind of locker room talk is not made public; however, Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province saw fit to print it, much to the chagrin of the Sharks, who replied to Botchford in the San Jose Mercury News. In a prepared statement, Sharks director of media relations Scott Emmert told beat writer David Pollak, "I don't think it would be a surprise to anyone in the industry that 'locker room talk' exists. Professional reporters understand that concept and respect it." Emmert said printing the exact quote was "a pathetic attempt to generate some page hits and controversy by reporting an off-the-cuff and off-the-record comment made by someone who wasn't even being interviewed at the time." No matter what side one takes, it was a hilarious, colorful comment that just shows hockey players are human beings and prone to telling it like it is.
On a side note, Blues television commentator Bernie Federko is well aware Thornton is coming to St. Louis tonight. Thornton is only seven points behind Federko on the all-time points list of NHL players. Federko, number 51 on the list, had a total of 1130 points in his career; Thornton, number 54, currently has 1123 points. Between them are Mike Bossy and Joe Nieuwendyk with 1126 points.
Through four games, the undefeated Blues' best hit-men are Ryan Reaves (15) and Vlad Sobotka (12). The total for the team is 80, an average of 20 hits per game. Roman Polak and Barret Jackman both lead the team with 12 blocked shots; the team total is 52, an average of 13 per game. The Blues have taken 130 total shots and allowed 106, outscoring opponents 19 to seven. Alexander (don't call me Alex) Steen leads the team in goals (4 tied with David Backes), points (8) and plus/minus (+5, tied with T.J. Oshie).
Alex (don't call me Alexander) Pietrangelo has a team high five assists.