When things are not going right for a hockey team, it’s easy to point fingers at the goaltender.
It is true in this case when it comes to puck control. Two games in a row, Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak has misplayed the puck, almost directly resulting in two goals against. Friday, he was caught behind the net, resulting in an easy goal for the Wild. Saturday, he shot it out of play, resulting in a delay-of-game penalty. The very next play, Minnesota took control and scored a goal. Simple solution; Halak needs to stop playing the puck. Completely.
That is where the finger-pointing should stop. Taking puck-handling out of the equation, Halak is proving that he can be a number one goaltender. He just needs a better defense in front of him.
I’m as tired as you are of watching the Blues lose big games that they needed to win. Since the start of 2011, the Blues are a dreadful 4-9-4 and have shown a strong lack of drive. Blues writers and fans have been pointing a lot of fingers at Halak. He is the number one goalie who is supposed to pull the Blues out of their slump and raise them into the standings by shutting teams down.
182 goals, 360 assists, 542 points and a career +98. These are not exactly NHL-superstar numbers, but great can mean so many different things.
Craig Conroy, a St. Louis Blue from 1996-2001, held a press conference Friday announcing that he will retire from the game and accept a position in the Calgary Flames front office.
The news comes after Conroy was placed on waivers by the Flames a little over a week ago. He took some time after clearing to weigh his options and he ultimately decided that the next phase of his hockey career should begin immediately as a special assistant to Flames GM Jay Feaster.
"I think the emotions were the first few days," said Conroy. "I'll never say it wasn't disappointing, it was disappointing. ... I was fortunate that they gave me (time) because I'd probably be up here crying like a baby if it was that day or just after I cleared waivers.”
It’s time to put the excuses away for a few minutes. This team has to get better in the coming weeks and excuses are just slowing them down.
Injuries are devastating. If any two roster players go down with an injury, it will affect the team’s play. We all know this. We’ve all heard this from the Blues management, coaching staff, players, media, fans and custodial staff. I’m included somewhere in there.
It’s time to stop asking “Why is this happening?” and start asking “How can we fix it?”
After dropping their last game before the All-Star break to the Flames in an undesirable fashion (scoring on their own net has added a new element to the formula of losing), the Blues have gone winless in their last four games, and have won just twice since the start of the new year (2-9-2 record in January). This has caused the Blues to drop to 14th in the NHL standings, five points out of the 8th and final playoff spot. Something has to change.
Firing the head coach will put the team in the wrong direction. About 13 months ago, the Blues tried that. John Davidson let veteran coach Andy Murray go and brought in Davis Payne to lead this team to victory. It was working for awhile, but even that has gone sour. So blame Payne for that? No way. He is working with what he is given; it just so happens that what he is given is not producing.
Entering the game just one point behind the Flames for twelfth place in the Western Conference standings, the Blues dropped their fourth game in a row, which was also their tenth loss in 12 games.
Ty Conklin went between the pipes for the Blues, since Jaroslav Halak was lit up in Colorado Monday night. Tonight was not much better for the Blues’ back-up. He made 16 saves on 19 shots, while his counterpart, Miikka Kiprusoff, made 28 saves on 29 shots, including a dazzling stop on Alex Steen mid-way through the third period on the breakaway.
After a few chances early, the Flames scored the first goal… technically. While on the power-play, David Moss took a shot from the right wing boards and Conklin kicked the puck to the middle. Erik Johnson was there for the rebound, but inadvertently fired the puck into his own net. Moss’ 11th goal of the season gave the Flames a 1-0 lead at 5:34 of the first period.
The power-play chances just kept coming for Calgary.
The current NHL waivers system has to be changed. Blues President John Davidson has dealt with the absurdity of the rule first hand and his demands for change are right on the button.
Currently, the National Hockey League has a rule in place that states that if an NHL team signs a player that has played overseas after the start of the NHL regular season, that player must enter a 24-hour waiver period.
Davidson dealt with this twice, as his Blues saw two players nabbed away from thier grasp. First the team signed former-KHLer Marek Svatos to an NHL contract, but the Nashville Predators stepped in and picked him off waivers. Then the Blues signed another former-KHLer, Kyle Wellwood, but the San Jose Sharks took him off the market. Needless to say, Davidson was a tad-bit upset over his inability to control his own signings.
"I have no problems with the teams picking them because they didn't break a rule," Davidson said while being a guest on NHL Home Ice XM 204 on Tuesday. "The rule is what it is, but it could be tweaked.“It's hard to understand how you can take a player who is finished somewhere else, becomes available, and you do all the work. You do a formula to finding a contract, you make late-night phone calls, you get lawyers involved. Then you try to get him here, when nobody else had thought of it and the other team says 'Oh, I'm going to take that player.'"