Bluenotes 1-25-11: A rough month for the St. Louis Blues

Back with his weekly update, NHLHS St. Louis Blues correspondent Jeff Quirin goes over the latest Blues news, including a forgetful January, injury updates and a key player on the block?

A weekley does of news, notes, analysis and opinion on the St. Louis Blues. Catch my daily Bluenotes at

A January To Forget

After a fairly successful December, the opening month of 2011 has been a polar opposite. Going from an 8-4-2 record to a 2-7-2 mark with just one game left before the All Star break. The feeling at 14th and Clark is becoming a bit anxious.

Scoring is down (GoalsFor/Game down 2.84 to 2.54). Defensive coverage often resembles swiss cheese (GAA up from 2.61 to 3.72). Whole periods are spent playing on brain vapors. Team after team sitting on top of Jaroslav Halak like a park bench.

Too much doom and gloom? Possibly, but it’s the reality of the Blues situation.

Luckily, with a little good fortune from the hockey gods, the Blues are just five points out of 8th place in the Western Conference today. Sadly, they are in 14th place and must leapfrog at least six teams to complete a second half comeback.

A difficult task, but one that is manageable for the time being. It’s been done before.

At least the All Star Game is on the horizon. A break for the team to forget the failures and tackle February fresh.

Coming Back From Injury

The Blues have no doubt missed TJ Oshie, David Perron and Andy McDonald. By far the three most dynamic forwards on the payroll. Getting at least one back would be a major lift to the lineup.

Oshie was the first to return. Out since November 10th with a broken ankle, he was not expected to return till around February or even not at all this season. The quick healing spark plug dressed in the Blues second victory of the month against the LA Kings on the 18th. He added his second goal of the season on the 20th against Detroit.

Both McDonald and Perron have been out with concussions. On the 18th their status were updated as well. With baseline tests passed, they could resume workouts. McDonald was symptom free and started his conditioning work. Perron is still experiencing symptoms and is under the care of a specialist currently. He can do light bike work to see if the stress increases the frequency and/or severity of the headaches.

McDonald traveled with the Blues on the current road trip and practiced with the full squad Monday. He is sporting a “Messier” helmet. One designed to protect the head more than the standard issue models.

Diamonds in the Rough

Little fan fare came from the deals to acquire Matt D’Agostini and Vladimir Sobotka. However, they have paid immediate dividends.

D’Ags has filled in on right wing and as the fourth center. In each role, demotion or promotion, he has gone about his business, kept his play simple and role relavent. So far the Habs castoff has 10 goals and 24 points in 48 games.

Sobe has done much the same. Getting under the skin of the opposition on the 4th line and finding a home on David Backes’ left wing. His numbers may seem small, five goals and 21 points, but his contribution extends well beyond what the scoresheet tracks.

A nice return for a forward who had yet to prove his merit at the AHL level  (Aaron Palushaj) and an undersized College defenseman who will struggle to transition to the professional game (David Warsofsky).

Quick Hits

It will be interesting to see if the Evgeni Nabakov waiver snatching finally draws more attention to the waiver wire process. After losing Marek Svatos and Kyle Wellwood to waiver claims, how is a team to improve itself? I can’t imagine the NHL wants to encourage teams to go and overpay on the trade market. Because right now, that’s what it will take to bring in reinforcements.

“News” broke Sunday that the Blues could be shopping Erik Johnson. While there could be some logic to such a move, it’s not happening. Scoring help is needed, but that’s not the way to go about it.

Some criticism has come EJ’s way. perfectly understandable given his satistical regression and inconsistent play. Though, he hasn’t been bad enough to be labeled a “bust” as some have.

The Peoria Express is fully functional. Shuttling warm bodies between the Blues AHL affiliate, Peoria Rivermen and St. Louis. Currently defenseman Nikita Nikitin and forwards Phil McRae, Stefan Della Rovere are up. Forwards Chris Porter, Ryan Reaves and defenseman Ian Cole have all been up with the big club.

Doug Armstrong had a legitimate reason for not recalling Nathan Oystrick, but there are some who feel he has out played Nikitin in Peoria and deserved the call up over the 24-year-old Russian. Since Oystrick will have to pass through waivers afer he plays 10 NHL games, they likely don’t want to risk losing him to the wire. In 14 games this season, Nikitin hasn’t shown much.

Halak’s January has been worse than  his November. Hard to imagine, but its true. Posting a 2-6-1 record with a 3.39 GAA and .883 save percentage in 10 starts compared to a 4-5-1 record with a 2.92 GAA and .895 save percentage.

Little news has come out regarding the investor situation. Basically managing owner Dave Checketts has said their plan is still on track for an early 2011 resolution. TowerBrook Capital Partners will still be involved, just with a lesser investment.

Interesting to note that it’s been reported that the financial situation prevented the Blues from closing on a Jamie Langenbrunner deal. A nice thought and surely the Blues wanted to be in on the talks, but how far could they have gone? Why waive his clause to come to St. Louis? His former club, Dallas, is in much better position.

Kudos to David Backes, the Blues All-Star representative.


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