Blues moving on and getting over the retirement of Keith Tkachuk

keithtkachuk1.jpgPreparing for the season this year in St. Louis is going to be a lot different for most of the Blues. This time around, they’re not going to have the veteran presence of Keith “Big Walt” Tkachuk around. Tkachuk announced his retirement at the end of last season and some members of the Blues have already made it clear that not having “Big Walt” around is going to make a big difference as Jeremy Rutherford tells us.

“It’s different,” Blues defenseman Jackman said.

Jackman, the Blues assistant captain, said several players will have to step up to compensate for Tkachuk’s absence. 

“Walt, he’s a character guy,” Jackman said. “He’s always talking, he’s always making everybody feel welcome. That’s a big voice that missing. But definitely over the next few weeks and throughout the season, you’ll see a lot of guys step up and fill a role. But maybe two or three guys will fill that one role that Walt had. 

“I think a lot of guys will grow and, maybe with another year under their belt, will come out of their shell. Or you’ll see the true character of a lot of people.”

The Blues are a young-ish sort of team. The two oldest players on the roster are backup goalie Ty Conklin and center Dave Scatchard, both 34 years-old. After that, shockingly, center Andy McDonald is 32 and defenseman Eric Brewer is 31. Everyone else is under 30 and after the last two seasons saw the Blues make a late push for the post-season, getting a veteran presence might not be necessary. After all, a young team that grows up together going through the successes (making the playoffs in 2009) and the failures (missing the playoffs in 2010) finds a way to get mature together the same way.

Whether or not that learning pans out into taking another step forward remains to be seen, but with the rise of players like T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund and seeing a return to goal-scoring from Brad Boyes, the Blues could be in the mix in the Western Conference. While the Central Division will be tough with Detroit, Nashville, and Chicago right there as well as a game Columbus squad it won’t be easy, but if the Blues can keep it together with Jaroslav Halak in goal, they could be a very difficult team to deal with.

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    After lopsided loss, Julien says it’s ‘not about the young D’

    Claude Julien

    The Boston Bruins’ young, makeshift defense failed to come through Thursday night as the B’s were thumped, 6-2, on home ice by the Winnipeg Jets.

    Without injured veterans Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the defensive pairings were as follows:

    Torey KrugAdam McQuaid
    Joe MorrowKevan Miller
    Matt IrwinZach Trotman

    And let’s just say, turnovers were a factor:

    That was Irwin getting checked off the puck there.

    “I had the puck behind the net, and I went to one side of the net, and then I just didn’t use the net to my advantage,” he explained afterwards, per CSN New England. “He got his stick in there, obviously stripped me of the puck, and we all know what happened after that. I take full blame for that one.”

    But head coach Claude Julien wasn’t willing to blame inexperience for the poor outing.

    “It’s not about youth. It’s not about the young D,” said Julien. “It’s about our game without the puck. I think we might have gotten a little excited here about our offense and forgot about the other part of our game.”

    And to be fair, even Boston’s more accomplished d-men had their challenging moments.

    Here’s Krug failing to get position on Nicolas Petan in front of the Bruins’ net:

    All in all, it was a tough night.

    “We’ll correct those [mistakes] tomorrow in practice,” said Irwin. “We’re a confident group in here. We liked our offense. We liked the chances we were getting. All those mistakes, D-zone, are something that we’re going to work on and get better every day.”

    The Bruins host their rivals from Montreal on Saturday.

    Greene named 11th captain in Devils history

    Dion Phaneuf; Andy Greene
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    Andy Greene has been named Bryce Salvador’s successor as New Jersey’s team captain.

    Greene, an undrafted free agent that’s spent his entire nine-year career with the Devils organization, becomes the 11th captain in the franchise’s history and third American to wear the “C” (Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner were the others).

    A former standout at Miami of Ohio, Greene — who served as an alternate captain in each of the last two seasons — has developed into a steady, durable blueliner that hasn’t missed a game in three years. He’s also locked into the Devils long term, having signed a five-year, $25 million extension with the club last summer.

    That deal kicks in this season, and runs through 2020.

    As for the rest of the leadership group, four players will serve as alternate captains this season: Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, and Adam Henrique.

    Elias and Zajac both wore an “A” in New Jersey last year, while Cammalleri and Henrique are first-timers.