After a gritty win Tuesday night against the New York Rangers the Blues have extended their record to 4-0-0 for only the second time in franchise history, not that anyone is counting.
I say gritty because it is a polite way of saying shitty. After a strong first period Tuesday night Carter Hutton once again had to come to the rescue, stopping 33 of 34 shots and looking pretty calm cool and collected in the process.
The rest of the Blues team failed to get much going after an opening minute goal by Carl Gunnarsson and another first period goal by Brayden Schenn. The possession numbers for the team (as reflected in the graph) are not good, only Alex Pietrangelo, Joel Edmundson, Paul Stastny and Vladimir Tarasenko finished above the 50% possession mark.
Despite getting hammered in their own end the Bray/Jay line continued to get the best opportunities in the offensive zone, so much in fact that Mike Yeo replace Ivan Barbashev with Vladimir Sobotka to try and give Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn as much help as the team could afford.
Dmitrij Jaskin was a healthy scratch after missing a morning team meeting and although I am all for keeping Jaskin as far away from the second line as humanly possible it has become painfully clear that there just aren’t a whole lot of viable options to fill that spot.
Barbashev has looked lost and Tage Thompson has just looked, well, tall. Sobotka is an option but all that does is add some dead weight to Vladimir Tarasenko and Paul Stastny. No thanks. Please hurry back Steen.
Don’t the Blues have an impressive young goal scorer stuck in the AHL? What was his name, oh yeah I remember, SAM FREAKING BLAIS. I don’t give a shit if he is a natural left winger, get him the hell up here and see what he can do. Just saying.
Anyways, seeing as how my lineup predictions have been about as accurate as a Jay Bouwmeester slap/wrist shot these last couple days I might as well go ahead and take another stab at it.
Assuming that Jaskin is still in the Yeo’s doghouse and the team doesn’t want to wear the shine off of Carter Hutton, I am going to say:
Sobotka moves back up to the top line with Vladimir Tarasenko and Paul Stastny.
Thompson gets another chance with Bray/Jay.
I’m sure Magnus Pajaarvi stays in the lineup and I’m willing to bet that Oskar Sundqvist does too. And unless Yeo is willing to break up the 4th line by either moving Scottie Upshall or Kyle Brodziak then Barbashev draws back in.
4th line will stay the same, because why not.
Snake is back in goal and stays there, and I mean literally stays in the crease and not five feet either side of it, the whole game.
And there you have it, the probably, maybe, could be, official lines.
As for the Florida Felines, who are only two games into the season and have only faced one opponent so far, things are not exactly a ray of sunshine.
The Jagr-less team has faced the Tampa Bay Lightening twice this season and has lost on the road and won at home.
After disastrous results last season in which the Panthers missed the playoffs new head coach Bob Boughner, who so far is still being allowed on the team bus, has a less than impressive roster to work with.
Jonathan Marchessault, Jaromir Jagr, Reilly Smith and Jussi Jokinen, who accounted for a combined 72 goals last year [ESPN], are gone.
The Panthers tried to fill the void in the offseason but came up a little short.
The top line of Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Evgeni Dadonov are worthy of their title. However, after them the talent drops off rather quickly.
Nick Bjugstad, who Boughner described as the team’s best forward in their win against Tampa, is returning from injury and should put up some decent numbers. Vincent Trocheck is a decent 2nd line center. Radim Vrbata had 25 goals and 35 assists with the Phoenix Coyotes last season.
The team’s captain Derek MacKenzie barely qualifies as a fourth line center and when he steps on the ice makes Jori Lehtera look like Connor McDavid. The fact that this guy is their Captain should about sum it all up.
The defensive core on the other hand should be the team’s strength.
Young Aaron Ekblad and old Keith Yandle are an impressive top pair and should be a corner stone of this team throughout the season.
The rest of the defense could all be worthy of second pair minutes.
Unfortunately, it is what’s behind them that could raise some cause for concern.
Roberto Luongo is 38 years old and is starting to show his age. James Reimer is expected to pick up the slack and may well be the team’s number one before the season is over. Seriously, that is not a joke even though it is kind of funny.
Last year the Panthers were expected to win their division again but instead missed the playoffs. This year the expectations are lower but the results maybe as well.
Thanks for reading and Go Blues.