Due to prior commitments, I've only been able to watch the last two Blues games so far this season. So from my perspective, this year isn't off to that great of a start. Still, 7 points from 5 games isn't too much to gripe over, and week long road trips out west can be hard on most teams. The Note will conclude their current Canadian travels tonight in Calgary.
The obvious story with the Flames is the off-season trade of Brian Elliott for a mere 2nd round draft pick, plus the ever so much fun conditional draft pick. The fact that Elliott put together one of the greatest goaltender careers in St. Louis Blues history is simultaneously inspiring and embarrassing, but it's a fact nonetheless. And unlike years past, Ells had finally won over the majority of the fans support as the starter, after backstopping the squad to their finest postseason campaign in 30 years. But Doug Armstrong was apparently dead set on making Jake Allen the starting job if it killed him, so he sent Moose packing up north.
Cal & Gary aren't off to the most promising start in front of Ells, however, having only collected 3 points from their 1-3-1 - that's their record, not their defensive scheme. Things have been even worse when you consider their opponents in those 5 games: Edmonton twice, Vancouver, Buffalo, and Carolina. None of those teams - including the Flames - even came within 10 points of a playoff spot last season. And Moose hasn't looked particularly good behind them, either, posting an 0-3-0 record with a 4.72 GAA & an .839 sv%, with an even strength save percentage at .889. Small sample size and everything, but in his time in St. Louis he only once posted an ESSV% of less than .926, and even that was a .919. Flames fans are already fiercely debating his usefulness.
All that aside, our friend Ells won't be in net tonight, as new head coach Glen Gulutzan confirmed that
Chad Ochocinco Chad Johnson will be between the pipes. He's fared better in his 2 starts, with a 1-0-1/1.89/.923 line. Gulutzan (great name, btw) can keep us from honoring Brian on the ice, and the Army can keep him from setting more Blues franchise goaltending records just despite the front office, but none of them can take away his time in St. Louis or his place in Blues fans' hearts. Mr. Gershwin, if you please...
TONIGHT'S PERFORMANCE: @ the Calgary Flames
CURTAIN TIME: 9:00pm central (for real this time - I always restart every season forgetting that Alberta is in the mountain time zone)
BROADCAST NETWORKS: Fox Sports Midwest (TV), SN360/SN1 (Silly Canadian TV), 1120am KMOX (radio)
#stlblues lines— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) October 22, 2016
That's right: Schwartz at center.— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) October 22, 2016
#stlblues D pairs— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) October 22, 2016
Gotta say, I like experimenting with Jaden Schwartz at center on Vladimir Tarasenko's line...assuming Hitch is seeing if he can go the rest of career refusing to play Paul Stastny with Tarasenko just despite the front office.
CENTRAL CHARACTER: LW Robby Fabbri - After his huge coming out party during the playoffs last year, the Robby "Don't-Call-Me-Robert" Fabbri has been all over the ice this early season, and seeing "top line" duties as a reward. He's already recorded 2 assists, but it's only a matter of time until he breaks out with a goal or two. With how wide open and fast paced the Flames young guns like to make games, don't be surprised to see it happen tonight.
MAIN ANTAGONIST: RW Troy Brouwer - Elliott wasn't the only Blues postseason hero to head to Canadian Cowboy Country this summer. The man who finally slayed the dragon known as the Chicago Blackhawks was one of two unrestricted free agent veteran power forwards the Blues had going into last offseason. For obvious reasons, the club put their eggs into the long-time team captain basket of David Backes. So by the time he had signed with the Bruins, Brouwer had already signed with Calgary, leaving Armstrong without his plan B. The Brouwer Ranger already has 3 goals this year, and he's had a long history of doing well against his former teams. If you're one of those who think the Blues drop in size and strength could harm them this year, Brouwer will be one to seriously test that theory. According to M&G's preview he likely won't see a ton of ice time with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan , so I'd expect him to see a lot of Colton Parayko as often as Hitch can without last change.
PLAYBILL: Speaking of, be sure to check out Matchsticks & Gasoline for all of your Calgary Flames questions. Make sure they thank us for Rob Ramage and their 1989 Stanley Cup, then politely thank them for Brett Hull.
What are your expectations for tonight's game? Calgary is a young exciting team I actually hope does well, but this should still be a winnable game if the Blues play their game. Then again, what exactly IS the Blues' game now? Do we know for sure? Do we know anything for sure? Can we know anything for sure? Can we know anything at all? What is the reason behind all of this? And biggest of all, why the fuck is there an outdoor game tomorrow? Have your academic debates in the comments as we hang out and wait for yet another late ass puck drop.