GDB LII: Bag skates and the Blues

Back on December 21st the Blues scored four powerplay goals in a 7-2 drubbing of the Oilers at Rexall Place. They won their next game before losing six straight, firing Andy Murray in the process and replacing him with Davis Payne, an Oiler draft pick in 1989.

Under Payne, the second youngest coach in the NHL at 39, the Blues are 6-5-2 and are five points back of 8th place Calgary. The Blues have the 7th best road record in the league, 14-8-4, but it’s they stink at home, 9-14-4, and that’s why they are in 13th place in the west.

Brad Boyes leads the Blues with 34 points, and only Nashville Patrik Hornqvist (33) and Boston, Patrice Bergeron (33), have a leading scorer with fewer points. The Blues have eight guys with ten or more goals with Andy McDonald leading the way with 16. They don’t score a bunch and they don’t give up a lot of goals.

O’Sullivan and Stortini out

The Oilers only had 12 skaters and the goalies on the ice this morning. Penner, Horcoff, Moreau, Pisani, Souray, Visnvosky, Jacques and Pouliot didn’t skate. The last two aren’t veterans and must be resting some minor bumps and bruises. Patrick O’Sullivan and Zack Stortini were on the ice for an extra 25 minutes skating and doing drills, and neither will play tonight.

O’Sullivan was asked what the message was from the coaches?

“I need to be better, more consistent. I expect more out of myself. It’s embarrassing for me, but that’s the point of it I think. It’s not fun skating like that. I haven’t done this since my first year. I’m gonna take the message and be better the next game I get to play.”

Of course he isn’t happy not playing, no player would be and I’d expect to see more jump in his game when he gets back in the lineup.

Quinn mentioned O’Sullivan sat out because he wasn’t meeting the coaches’ expectations, while Stortini was just caught up in the numbers game. Depending on how the team plays tonight, I’d expect both to play in Calgary on Saturday. Quinn made it very clear that there were many other candidates who could easily have been given the pass to the pressbox.

Two lines are set for sure:

Penner — Gagner — Nilsson
Moreau — Horcoff — Pisani

It sounds like Potulny is playing with Mike Comrie and Gilbert Brule, so that leaves Andrew Cogliano to skate with Jacques and Pouliot.

I’d like to see Brule play with Gagner and Penner once he gets up to speed. Brule and Penner have worked well together and now is the time to start looking at some line combinations that could work for next season.

I don’t see any of those three being moved, so why not use the final games to let them find some chemistry and continuity. If you look ahead those three along with Ales Hemsky, Jordan Eberle and the potential top-pick could be their top-six next season, so why not find out if those three can click as a line.

Devan Dubnyk was on the ice 20 minutes before practice working with Freddy Chabot. Actually Chabot had a camera and was taking pictures of him from different angles, sliding across the crease and challenging the shooter. Dubnyk will not play tonight, as Jeff Deslauriers will get another crack. He gave up a weak goal early against Chicago, but played decent after that.

Quinn said the decision was made yesterday at practice. He felt Deslauriers practiced better and looked more crisp so Deslauriers will get a shot to win his first game of 2010.

    • Harlie

      classic case of the stats not telling the whole story. He's been in the right place offensively but defensively he hasn't been in the right place and even in the offensive zone unless the puck landed on his stick he wasn't digging hard for it. As I said before I like the guy, I just don't like how he's been playing as of late. I know he has the tools…he just has to use them.

      p.s i paid particular attention to O'Sullivan's play during the last game and that is why I was so hard on him during that GDB. He played terribly even though his name came up on the stats.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      I've liked the guy as of late, but I guess Quinn wants more. This is the problem with the team, we have someone that is playing well at a desginated role why do we have to add to that role?

      Let the players play the roles they are suppose to and fill the holes that come from that via trade or free agency this off-season.

  • Harlie

    I'm glad to hear that O'Sullivan is paying for his craptastic play of late. Last game he was a total powderpuff just floating around. C'mon man, you are making millions of dollars a year in an occupation where it is expected that you get hurt or hurt someone. So take off the glass suit and get your hands dirty already.

  • Jmask5

    Is it a coincidence that every forward acquired as a result of the Pronger trade has had Stone Hands?

    Lupul, Cole, POS all couldn't find the back of the net with a GPS.

  • Ball Buster

    Can anyone tell me why the last place team in the NHL consistently allows the veterans to sit out practice? Way to set an example boys! For me this is a glaring sign that the leaders are not of the ilk don the beloved Copper and Blue. I'm thinking ACME can be the new sponsor down at Rexall 0.75.

    • Ball Buster

      I've wondered that for awhile myself. Moreau missing the bag skate, and then playing the next day raised my eyebrow, but it seems a lot of the vets don't feel they need to show up for practice. Not sure if they're nursing something, but doesn't matter because the young guys come to practice when they aren't always up to snuff.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      I was thinking the samething, but I'd hate to see one of them get injuried in practice taking them off the trade block.

  • Ball Buster

    Obvious comment of the day:

    Nilsson on the top line, even with Comrie and Brule coming back, smacks of Tambellini asking Quinn for a showcase.

    I wonder what team needs Nilsson's skill set though?

    Off the top of my head, I can't think of any teams out there sorely missing a complementary 2nd liner who can put in 10 minutes of so-so hockey and help out on the 2nd PP unit. I mean, Sykora cleared waivers just last week didn't he?

    • Jason Gregor

      If he was shopping him heavily he'd be playing for sure. And I'd like to think Tambellini doesn't need to keep a guy just to prove a point, if anything if he moves him more a prospect of better asset he'd look much better than keeping him and watching him stay inconsistent.

      @DUKE

      Can anyone tell me why the last place team in the NHL consistently allows the veterans to sit out practice? Way to set an example boys! For me this is a glaring sign that the leaders are not of the ilk don the beloved Copper and Blue. I'm thinking ACME can be the new sponsor down at Rexall 0.75.

      This morning was an optional skate, and trust me morning skates on game days border on pointless in my opinion. When the entire team is on the ice it isn't a fast paced skate. More just getting the legs going. Some guys elect to do a light off-ice work out instead.

      The Blues had an optional this morning and had maybe seven guys out there. Lots of teams do it.

      @JW

      Well, I don't want to give O'Sullivan too much credit (he's been bad) but is he one of the two worst forwards on the team right now?

      There are other candidates for sure, but O'Sullivan's decision making process has been awful, and I think this is a subtle message from the coaches that he needs to be better. Expect a rotation of players in and out of the press box leading up to the Olympic break.