It’s been a while since the St. Louis Blues have truly been a relevant team in the NHL. While they had a recent playoff run in 2008-09, they were absolutely stomped by the Vancouver Canucks. Before the lockout, the Blues were a perennial playoff team who ached for postseason success; now they might accept such a fate.
Young players such as T.J. Oshie, David Backes, Chris Steward and Alex Pietrangelo lead the Blues, but the squad seems a bit lacking in the area of veteran stability. The Blues took steps to rectify that situation today by signing experienced forwards Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott to one-year contracts. Jeremy Rutherford reports that each player will make $2.5 million, although performance bonuses could drive their salaries up to $2.8 million.
As many have joked on Twitter and elsewhere, it’s a bit odd that both Langenbrunner and Arnott played for the not-so-successful New Jersey Devils last season. That being said, they both enjoyed high moments in the Garden State; Langenbrunner served as the team’s captain while Arnott scored a Stanley Cup-winning overtime goal for NJ.
Of course, each guy is also obviously past his best days. The Devils traded Langenbrunner once it became clear that they would bring in head coach Jacques Lemaire again. (Langenbrunner clashed with Lemaire quite a bit during the 2009-10 season.) Arnott opted for a trade deadline deal when given the choice, helping the Washington Capitals transition a bit but ultimately falling well short of their goal of winning a Cup.
These seem like solid deals, especially since the Blues limited their overall risk by only giving them one-year contracts. How do you feel about these signings … could they be enough to propel St. Louis to a playoff spot in 2011-12?
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.