posted on October 10, 2008 03:28
With a loss by the Detroit Red Wings Thursday night, the St. Louis Blues sit firmly atop the Central Division standings with no record and no points. And yes, it may be the only day this season the Blues can claim a piece of first place. No one knows.
That’s the thing about this season: no one knows what’s going to happen. After an offseason that saw no free agent signings beyond depth players for Peoria, one trade and it was for a backup goaltender, and letting a couple players walk in free agency so that a 20-year-old Swedish kid and a 21-year-old college player could make the team out of training camp, fans should already be drunk before the first faceoff. Fans should be marching on the Drinkscotch Center with pitchforks and torches demanding heads roll and refunds be given. That's before Erik "Tiger Woods" Johnson destroyed his knee on the golf course. That means 18-year-old Alex Pietrangelo who four months ago put on his first Blue Note ever at the NHL draft will be in the opening night lineup. And yet, the game was on the verge of a sellout Thursday. Optimism is apparently a strange thing.
Blues managing partner Dave Checketts said in radio interviews mid-week that tickets sales are ahead of last year’s pace. And if you’ll remember, last year was pretty good with 20 sellouts in 41 home games. What the fuck? Not only do Blues fans love Boyes, they apparently love the kids too – five of the players who are expected to see ice time early this season are 21 or younger. What’s interesting is that this is the youngest team the Blues have fielded in a couple generations. And the fans are responding. Damn the torpedoes and pass the Wild Turkey. This ride is bound to get bumpier before it gets better.
The Blues are reaching a critical juncture of this rebuilding project. This three-year period without the playoffs is the longest in franchise history. And in those three years, the Blues haven’t come close. But the fans can bank on the kids. And improvement. Hopefully. If we don’t see it, start sharpening your pitchfork…
The Nashville Sexual Predators are in town tonight. You might remember a neck-bearded, smelly forward with an Eastern European accent named Alexander Radulov. He’s playing in Russia because he’s a moron. And probably loves borscht. Because of the lack of a transfer agreement, there’s threats of lawsuits and arbitration and no Radulov for the Preds despite being under contract.
Other than that unwashed Russian, Nashville pretty much returns the same team that surprised the Central Division with 91 points and a playoff birth. Of course the fucking Detroit Red Wings eliminated the Predators in six games, but at least they made the second season. Leading the way for Nashville will be center Jason Arnott and forward J.P. Dumont who both scored 72 points a season ago. Arnott turns 34 tomorrow. There’s a reason why he’s on his fourth team: he normally follows a good season with a mediocre one. And after notching his second highest point total in his career, he’s pretty much screwed this year. As far as Dumont, he’s on the rise. Scoring 66 points two seasons ago and 40 before that, he is primed to lead the Predators offensively.
Winger Martin Erat may actually be related to rodents. He probably has to trim his whiskers before each game. Meanwhile, David Legwand has no distinguishing characteristics whatsoever.
Marek Zidlicky was the leader on defensively for the Predators last year before departing in a trade to Minnesota. His 38 assists a year ago were third on the team and first among defensemen for Nashville. He had more power play points than any other player on Nashville last season, something that will really hamstring the Preds' as they try to improve on their 27th ranking last season with the man advantage. Shea Weber, 23, missed two different stretches last season with injuries but could be a budding star if he stays healthy. The defensive corps is a mostly young group with a lot of potential.
Dan Ellis has taken over as the starting goaltender in Nashville. The 28-year-old dude came out of nowhere. Before last season he had one career start in the NHL – in February 2004. He kicked around the minors as a backup goaltender before emerging last season in Nashville. He earned the starting job in March 22 when Mason was benched for shitty play and minor leaguer Pekka Rinne was delayed because of a snowstorm. Even with his job in constant jeopardy almost the entire season, Ellis tied for the league lead in save percentage at 92.4 percent.
Forward Jordin Tootoo is 5’9 and all prick. The little gutless bastard is a dirty player who deserves whatever he gets in a game. If Janssen suits up for the Blues, they’ll dance. And I hope Tootoo will oblige. That guy tried to intentionally hurt Christian Backman last season on a late hit. He keeps his elbows up. Almost every one of his hits could be considered a charge. There’s a different between playing hard-nosed and physical vs. reckless and dangerously. Tootoo doesn’t know the difference. Or if he does, he doesn’t care about the other guys in the league.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. I’m more optimistic about the Blues than most pundits. Our vendors have forgotten how cold it will get by December. And I can’t stand the mustard-colored bastards from Music City. Fuck those guys.